Jef­frey Hein: Growth and Ful­fill­ment

American Art Collector - - Front Page -

Born in Wind­sor, New York, Jef­frey Hein took his first draw­ing class when he was 17 at Ricks Col­lege un­der Ger­ald Grif­fin. Af­ter tak­ing four years off to serve a mis­sion and treat­ment for can­cer, Hein re­sumed his stud­ies in paint­ing and draw­ing in Utah. In 2002, he dropped out of col­lege to es­tab­lish him­self as a full-time artist. About six years later, he was feel­ing like he wasn’t be­ing chal­lenged enough men­tally and con­cerned that he had plateaued in his growth. With a de­sire to be a bet­ter artist, he be­lieved that to move to the next level he needed to make his work harder and more chal­leng­ing. Hein says, “My end goal was to be­come a bet­ter artist, so I had to in­crease my weight men­tally get­ting rid of any­thing that made it eas­ier.” Hein’s pre­scribed so­lu­tion was to let go of pho­tog­ra­phy as a tool and to take some time to study the tech­niques of the Old Mas­ters in depth. From 2008 to 2011 Hein stopped sell­ing paint­ings in or­der to de­vote all of his time to re­train­ing him­self to paint “the old-fash­ion way.”

Not long af­ter this sab­bat­i­cal, af­ter teach­ing a work­shop in Hous­ton, Hein visited the Mu­seum of Fine Arts, Hous­ton. Stop­ping at the Por­trait of a Young Woman by Rem­brandt, he re­mem­bers, “I was en­thralled with the sub­tle ren­der­ing of form, the va­ri­ety of hue and tem­per­a­ture in the skin, de­tails in the cloth­ing and hair, and the amaz­ing il­lu­sion of depth that he was able to cre­ate.” But there some­thing else about this work that moved Hein, it is what he de­scribes as “the spirit of the model.” Hein says, “I imag­ined the many hours, cen­turies ago, that Rem­brandt spent with this woman as he painted her. Per­haps dur­ing breaks they would dis­cuss their per­sonal lives, Rem­brandt’s past or fu­ture projects, her life as an aris­to­crat, or maybe they dis­cussed their fam­i­lies or the weather. I can imag­ine her peek­ing around the easel to see the progress and per­haps even mak­ing com­ments such as ‘is my nose re­ally that big’ or ‘it’s in­ter­est­ing how you see me.’” This ex­pe­ri­ence, and many oth­ers like it, have only so­lid­i­fied Hein’s ded­i­ca­tion to work­ing with­out pho­tog­ra­phy. He wants his work to be a record of a di­rect in­ter­ac­tion be­tween him, the sub­ject and the medium.

It was, in part, this new process of paint­ing from life that drew for­mer Mayor Ralph Becker to se­lect Hein to paint his por­trait as the 34th mayor of Salt Lake City. The paint­ing, which will be un­veiled this year, will hang in the Mayor’s Hall with the other may­oral por­traits dat­ing back to the city’s founder, Brigham Young.

Work­ing with Becker over the past year, Hein de­vel­oped a com­po­si­tion that de­picts his com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment, his love of na­ture and the se­ri­ous­ness he brought to his of­fice. Hein says, “I’ve never seen the mayor drive a car. He would show up on his bike, even if it was bit­ter cold, snow­ing or rain­ing.” Hein even re­counts that one day the mayor packed two suits and an ar­ray of ties in a huge back­pack and rode them to Hein’s stu­dio on his bike. So, in­cor­po­rat­ing the bike was im­por­tant and rep­re­sented Becker’s ded­i­ca­tion to pre­serv­ing the health of the en­vi­ron­ment. To give a nod to his love of na­ture but also his com­mit­ment to the city, Hein worked in a land­scape and cityscape as well as flow­er­ing shrubs in the fore­ground. Fi­nally, through his ex­pres­sion, Hein was able to por­tray the se­ri­ous­ness that Becker brought to his of­fice.

All of these el­e­ments came to­gether to cre­ate a paint­ing that is one with the sub­ject, por­trayed through build­ing a col­lec­tive his­tory be­tween the artist, the work and the sub­ject.

Mayor Ralph Becker, oil, 49¾ x 32½"

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.