Painting & Illustration // Memories of rural landscapes.
“I have always been drawn to rural landscapes. Growing up in Alabama with my family meant long, hot car trips, spent looking out the window as my parents pointed at the scenes which reminded them of their childhood homes in the farmland of southern Ohio. They told their stories and I half-listened with a child’s short attention span. As an adult, these memories hold strong emotion for me, and they represent a time that is lost. I would give most anything to hear my parents’ stories now. I would pay close attention this time. I believe my fondness for these landscapes springs from these memories.
As a young artist, my first great influence was primitive art, specifically Australian Aboriginal art. The bold outlines, patterns and simplified shapes seemed to directly convey the power of the animals depicted. The images were stories, legends. and their energy was there to see. Often, in what is called “”x-ray style””, the Aboriginal artist will show the insides of the animals, as well. Their way of filling every inch of the format with mark-making was very appealing to me.
In the 1990’s, I had a job that had me driving southern back roads for years. Along the way, I stopped to sketch old barns, churches, houses, cemeteries, and animals…whatever caught my eye. I am haunted by these places, thinking of the stories that must exist, all of the untold memories. When you drive back roads, you see many strange and beautiful things, and these are my starting points as I work.
In the South, we enjoy a “”gracious plenty””, as you hear folks say. There are plenty of stories, plenty of legends, plenty of moments in lives long gone. Through time, Southerners have spun their lives into tall tales and songs that burst with the lushness of life. In my paintings, I invite the viewer to look at the details, to pay attention to these stories and small moments. Often they are familiar…things we’ve seen ourselves, legends we’ve heard others tell. They always change a bit with each retelling. These paintings are my stories, embellished in that great, southern tradition.
My hope is that they convey a sense of place-my home here in the South.”
Bethanne Bethard Hill was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on October 12, 1966. She was raised in Birmingham, the youngest of 6 children. She is a 1985 graduate of the visual arts department at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and holds a BFA in painting and sculpture from Birmingham-Southern College.