Elusive Muse is pleased to share our exclusive interview with abstract painter, Tony Henson.

Artist Statement

Breaking your hand is not what you want to do as an artist! I broke my right hand – yes, I am right handed – over six years ago in three places. I have three plates and over twelve screws in my hand. After surgery and therapy, it was very difficult to hold a brush and paint with the intensity I was used to. I began using my hands to paint with exclusively. I could introduce texture and movement by scratching into the paint, flicking the paint with my fingertips, and throwing splashes of color on the canvas. My technique and style has naturally evolved since breaking my hand. I use large brushes, palette knifes, squeegees, and from time to time my hands. Currently, with paintings like Drift and Mt Evans, I start with one main color covering the entire canvas. Within this one color, I will have different values and hues of the specific color to give depth and create a subtle quality to the overall painting. I add very dark areas of blacks, browns, and grays at the bottom to give the painting visual weight. In contrast to the dark areas, I paint expressive colorful areas that are influenced by how I view nature here in the mountains of East TN. The large area of color is influenced by my view of nature from my studio. From the deck just outside my studio, I see a large sky with mountains and trees at the bottom towards the horizon. I am not trying to depict a certain landscape. I just use that as a starting point. I believe that great paintings are powerful, simple, and yet have a subtle quality to them. I want to create a sense of immersion for the viewer as I have when I’m painting as well as being surrounded by nature while driving, hiking, or mountain biking. I want the person to ‘enter’ the painting like one would ‘enter’ a great play, opera, or film. Immersion of the art you are experiencing and standing in front of is very important to me. The artists I am looking at are Constable for his landscapes and use of dark areas, Turner for the dramatic use of color, Rothko for the large fields of subtle color, and Joan Mitchell for her brushwork. I’m obsessed with color! I notice it everywhere in everything. My love for color, nature, texture, and movement are influences in every painting I create.

~ Tony Henson

To learn more about Tony or to see more of his amazing work, visit his website at www.tonyhensonart.com

Copyright © 2015 Tony Henson. All Rights Reserved

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…and now for our exclusive interview with Tony Henson

How would you describe your art?
colorful, expressive, inspirational, emotional, unique, textural

How long have you been an artist and how did you become an artist?
I started selling my paintings in 1997 but I have always had an interest in creating art. I watched my oldest brother, Todd, draw Spiderman when I was 3 years old back in 1975. He is 10 years older than me. I thought it was magic to create an image on a blank sheet of paper. My first memory is of this and drawing with crayons all over my bedroom walls. I thank my Mom for never telling me to stop doing that.

What is your favorite medium and why?
Acrylic. It is the perfect medium for my process. I spend about a $1,000 a year on paint and love the ability acrylic offers for different applications. Oil paint would cost me way too much but maybe one day I can afford it.

Pick one work of art from your portfolio and tell us the story behind it. Why does this piece have meaning to you? What steps did you take to create the piece?
Passage – 36×36″ – 2014

This one was created a day before my wedding anniversary on November 28th, 2014. Passage started a new approach to painting which is the name of this series I am currently working on. It was a breakthrough painting of sorts introducing the gradation and line work that I didn’t have in previous paintings. This one was created the same way as all of my paintings in that I start out in a very spontaneous way and slowly edit the painting to make it as visually successful as possible. My benchmark of quality is always being pushed so every year my art gets better. The Walter Sickert quote sums up my process and is on my studio wall – “start like a bricklayer and end like a jeweler.”

PASSAGE OF TIME 2015 58x46 $5500
PASSAGE OF TIME 2015 58×46 $5500

Tell us about one medium, technique or style that you would like to try working with (that you have not tried before) and why you would like to try this.
I’m currently perfecting my technique or application of paint every day I am in the studio. I did experiment with different things and mixed media in college. I have a set of limitations for every series or body of work I produce and attempt to push the formal elements as much as possible.

How do you make time for art?
This is a great question because I just had a conversation with an art instructor I teach with and she said, “I would rather be sleeping while you are painting late at night.” I really dislike artists that say they do not have time to paint. You make time for everything that is important to you – period. In my 20 plus years as a painter, I have only went 9 days straight without painting and that was because I was in Alaska on a cruise. I did produce some drawings though. I paint about 4 times a week from about 9pm to 1am. I teach college part time but have kept these hours for many years even while working a full-time job. Painting is something I need to do just like breathing. I can’t call someone an artist that paints once a month.

If you could imagine the “perfect art day” for yourself, what would it be like?
I’ve had a few of those perfect art days. For me, it is when you have a breakthrough painting like Passage or weep because you are just a vehicle to inspire people with color, texture, and energy……you weep because you just experienced the presence of God. I pray before and after every painting I work on that I will inspire someone with my art as I am inspired by this beautiful canvas that is called Earth.

If you could spend 24 hours with one artist, living or historical, who would you want to spend the day with and why? What would the two of you do?
Gerhard Richter! He is my favorite artist. I would like to ask him many questions as I watch his process of the abstract paintings he creates like what makes a successful painting, why did you edit that, what are you visually communicating, etc. After that, I would ask him to give me advice on my paintings.

Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring artists?
Follow your instincts, don’t be afraid of rejection because it will come, be persistent, paint as much as possible, write about your work, look at as much art as possible, and develop your strengths to make yourself stand out. Good questions! Thank you.

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