Let your eyes explore one of Rodney Hatfield’s paintings for a few moments and you will notice there is something emerging from beneath the final layer of paint. Each work builds from the initial underpainting to sometimes numerous revisions, with these previous iterations bleeding through into the finished piece. This artistic element, called pentimento, is a signature of Hatfield’s, allowing the viewer to appreciate not only the final composition but also how he arrived there.
“Sometimes whole paintings that I’ve lived with for a while and decided I didn’t like, I’ll paint over,” Hatfield elaborates. “But, in doing so, I will leave other parts of the original surface showing through. They will become, then, a part of the new painting.”
For as long as Hatfield has been an artist, there has been this evolution in his work. He thought eventually he would get to a point where he could sit down and finish a piece in one session, but has since found resolve in his artistic journey. “I’ve made peace with the fact that this is my process. I’m OK with that,” Hatfield says. “It’s kind of the idea of letting the painting lead
me. The more I try to enforce myself on an idea for a painting, the worse it gets. The more I can let go and sort of let the canvas be a partner in the painting and everything, the better I do.”
Hatfield also allows himself the freedom to explore using a variety of tools, with the traditional paintbrush being the one he uses the least. “I like the idea of using these other things because they’re even less precise— rollers, sticks, palette knives, sponges, rags, just about anything,” the artist says. “The brush makes you want to exert control, at least for me. I like the primal approach to it, and using these crazy tools to paint helps.”
This July 20 to August 9, Hatfield will present a new series of works at Selby Fleetwood Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The show, aptly titled Pentimento, will include colorful works that show off his well-honed techniques.
Mr. Hornblower, for instance, was done 90 percent with palette knife and developed as the work came together. In another painting, Oracle, Hatfield primarily used a roller and a limited color palette to arrive at the ghostly looking piece. He shares, “I wanted to see how many variations on a color that I could get. I used black, yellow and white.” For Songbird, the idea was to paint a bird, but the avian creature he started with was much different from the one that appears in the finished piece.
Selby Fleetwood Gallery 600 Canyon Road • Santa Fe, NM 87501 • (505) 992-8877 • www.selbyfleetwoodgallery.com
Mr. Hornblower, oil on canvas, 40 x 40"
Oracle, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36"
Rodney Hatfield in his studio.
Songbird, oil on canvas, 36 x 36"