Brian Hibbard ended up in North Carolina, after trying to literally walk away from his art. He and his wife planned to hike across America. They started in California after training on the east coast, but after a few days striding over unfamiliar, rocky terrain, their dog’s feet blistered and split. They gave up, bought a Westphalia van, lost it to a, thief in Colorado, and ended up living in a camper perched atop a mountain.
Compared to that, Hibbard’s life years later seems downright staid. He’s standing outside his solar-paneled studio dressed in a utilitarian ensemble of polar fleece, navy twill and hiking boots. If the paint streaks on his clothes were dirt instead, he might easily be mistaken for a hand on the Santa Fe ranch where he refined his work ethic.
Instead of replacing the art he’d studied during his college years, Hibbard’s sojourn in the Southwest returned him to it with a renewed sense of focus. Since coming back to his Southern roots and staking his claim on a beautiful farm in North Carolina , the man in the primer-striped shorts has become one of the most in-demand, talented and hard-working artists in the region.
This Southern artist takes a modern approach to classical painting, depicting rural landscapes, regal horses and rustic barns. Hibbard has a methodical, workmanlike approach to his vocation, which he pursues through even the occasional bout ‘of artist’s block. Hibbard prides himself on meeting deadlines and returning phone calls in a timely manner. Even in this recession “It’s amazing how busy I’ve stayed,” Hibbard says. “Since I do this full-time, I’m able to jump on opportunities when they come up. If somebody calls, I try within a day or week to jump on it. I really take pride in that.”
And the calls have been coming. Hibbard is currently represented by 14 galleries across the country. Even though he’s stayed busy, it isn’t all toil. Hibbard makes time for flashes of inspiration by taking a drive in his old military painted chevy. These jaunts in the country often become the muse for his latest series of landscape paintings or metal sculptures. Outside his studio overlooking lush green fields, two sculptures, a horse made from motorcyle parts and other found metal objects and the gigantic head of a woman, languish in the afternoon sun. Inside, the walls are donned with a paintings that are a true feast for the eyes.
Although he experiments with nontraditional media and abstraction, the artist’s touchtone is classical technique. Birds, Horses and organic figurative works make up his oeuvre of classical , yet modern pieces as well as ethereal tributes to the great outdoors. Hibbard works on panel, not canvas, for most of his paintings. For some of the figurative pieces, Hibbard employs experimental media like tar, mineral spirits and resin. He emphasizes the sculptural element even more in some of his abstract work, like one painting caked with broken bottles and resin. Writer Orson Scott Card said it best when describing Brian’s work as having “ an interesting palette of muted colors that include a strange, metallic brown that suggest copper. His trees and clouds are rimmed with slight shadowing that is… at once representational and yet theatrical. I fell in love with all of his work.” We believe you will too.
My paintings and sculptures bridge ancient and modern sensibilities. The subjects are often classical figures and portraits, but my use of materials is pure expressionism. I am most comfortable working in large scale. It is a great format for viewers to “step into” and experience.
My approach to my work includes both tradition and intuition. I pay careful attention to proportions, values, scale, and especially contrast. I begin by capturing my subject in a representational fashion. Once this foundation is made I then switch to a more contemporary mindset. I begin to view the painting more abstractly focusing on form and surface. Design and linear elements, colors, metals, and patinas begin to work into the piece and often completely cover the substructure. I tend to experiment with various media like tar, metallic latex, and even resin. I view my work upside down or view them through a mirror to find harmony in the mix. This phase is rather spontaneous and intuitive. Some of my work comes together quickly while others evade me for months even years.
There is a close relation between how I work and the way I live. My worldview is grounded in reality, guiding principles and what I believe to be true. If I live or paint by only what I can see or understand there is no room for invention. At the same time, the freedom and joy of exploring new potentials, if not grounded becomes lost and has no direction. There is a necessary balance between what is real and our freedom to create, interpret and explore within this reality. What really makes my art alive is both embracing this concept and exposing the contrasts.