Emerging Artists | Jesse Hitchens

In pursuit of nature’s wonders

Jesse Hitchens, Cypress Sun, oil, 22 x 28.

Jesse Hitchens, Cypress Sun, oil, 22 x 28.

This story was featured in the November 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  November 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

“Trying to capture what I feel when I’m in nature is one of my favorite challenges,” says painter Jesse Hitchens, whose impressionistic style reflects contemporary and imaginative realism. “Ever since I was a child, nature has fascinated me. I have memories of sitting outside watching the leaves blow in the wind and creating infinite patterns.”

Today, the Seattle artist enjoys painting the Emerald City’s diverse urban-scapes, but he also revels in depicting landscapes throughout Washington and across the West. “My love for travel and nature drives me to explore and paint,” he says. Last winter, Hitchens made his first trip to Europe, where he spent a month “locked up in museums and wandering the streets, painting en plein air.”

In May, Hitchens’ seascape CYPRESS SUN received an honorable mention at the Oil Painters of America’s 25th annual national juried exhibition. The work originated from a plein-air study he completed in Cypress Grove at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, CA—the artist’s first stop on a month-long painting trek through California, Utah, and Arizona. Walking through the seaside grove of ancient Monterey cypress trees, he says, “I was filled with an almost palpable spirituality. There are certain places in nature that are so powerful you can feel it.”

For Hitchens, figure painting “comes in a close second” to landscape painting, and the dexterous artist also enjoys painting still lifes. “One of my newest passions is painting the figure in nature, which opens up a whole new range of directions,” he says.

Hitchens earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the Art Institute of Boston. He’s a “huge proponent” of copying masterworks, re-creating the works of John Singer Sargent, Rembrandt van Rijn, Edmund Tarbell, and other artists he holds in high esteem. “Many of the artists I admire had a unique way of simplifying form and values. It’s one thing to just look at works of art, but when you spend hours trying to replicate them, it really gives you more clues as to what is going on in a practical sense,” he says. Hitchens rarely tries to duplicate individual brush strokes, though, because he sees them as the artist’s handwriting, “and,” he adds, “I’m happy to have my own.” —Kim Agricola

representation
www.jessehitchens.com

This story was featured in the November 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  November 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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