During the gallery stroll last Saturday on July 10th, I got a chance to meet and speak with our featured artist: Terry Hitt, whose works range from landscape to abstract. Just a few minutes into our conversation, I immediately became fond of Terry’s infinite passion in art, appreciation of nature, and an overall awareness of his surroundings. His creativity and knowledge quickly inspired me to learn more about him and his art. Terry was nice enough to let me interview him through email.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am 75 years into seeing art everywhere. Sometimes the constant search for just the right scene or inspiration prevents me from enjoying the moment and I have to shut off the artist eye and just be at one with my environment.
My mother was an artist and my father very pious so I became a life long searcher for truth and beauty in all things. I attended the Columbus College of Art and Design and graduated from Otterbein College with a major in Psychology-Sociology and minors in Greek and Art. After graduating from United Theological Seminary I served as a pastorate for a year and realized my calling is in art. I was an illustrator for the Otterbein Press and then went from freelance to associate professor at the University of Dayton and retired from teaching at the end of 1997. I completed an MFA degree at the University of Cincinnati.
You have a Masters degree in Divinity. How did you transition from theology to art?
Since I view art as exploring the meaning of being human and since the meaning of life is central to religion, I think all artists are theologians in spite of ourselves.
Where do you draw your inspirations from? What have been some of your biggest influences when it comes to your work?
I draw inspiration from Nature and all the artists who came before me. Perhaps I am a Pantheist like my Celtic origins since I am awestruck in the presence of Nature. All of art history is of interest to me but I find special affinity with Kandinsky, Matisse, Diebenkorn and Native American rock drawings. Currently I am slowly learning to appropriate Impressionists and Hudson Bay school into my landscapes.
How do you see technology, such as photoshop, play a role in your artwork?
I photograph my subjects of interest in my garden or on hikes then use photoshop to combine various elements into a composition and try various color contrasts in search of the feelings I have while in nature.
Although the film industry and computer games are extraordinary in their detail and fantasy, I don’t think they can replace fine painting because the history of the artist’s process is preserved in the paint.
In excellent paintings, each stroke of paint is just the right mixture of observation and passionate response to evoke a sense of truth in the moment. In addition, the intensely personal act of seeking purpose through art making is at times shamanistic. The magic of art is to make the difficult appear to be easy.
Your work often involves unexpected elements such as animal remains. How do you incorporate different mediums into your art?
I have included natural materials in many of my works in tribute to native peoples and to celebrate the mysterious circle of life/death. The paradox of life is that he who eats is eaten in the end. The materials are dried and coated with either acrylic emulsion or varnish.
As a retired art professor from University of Dayton, what would you say to young artists?
Young artists must never forget that ninety percent of art is hard work and sweat. Trial and many failures precede success. Skill and process must become one.
What can we expect to see from you in the near future? Do you have any shows coming up or are there any projects that you are involved in?
Currently I am working on increasing both my observational skills and painterly response through my love of South Eastern Ohio and Daniel Boone State Park, Kentucky. The play of light on form and contrasts between illuminated areas and deep shadow evoke in me a feeling of primordial beginnings.
Interviewed by Connie Q.