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About a year ago, we met Don Hartman’s six quirky boys in “On Vacation” in an exhibit at Town Hall Arts Center’s Stanton Gallery in downtown Littleton. They were the start of a series, we now learn, as we anticipate “Wait a minute, I think I’ve seen these before.”
Hartman said that at that time, he had started working on girls on vacation to complete his envisioned series of “On vacation with the boys and girls.” The 12-painting series is now complete, he says, and the group will return to liven up Town Hall’s gallery from Jan. 8 through Feb. 16. Onstage at Town Hall will be a sort of delightful fantasy: “Peter and the Starcatchers.”
“Imagine otherworldly critters on vacation with family and friends taking selfies and vacation snaps and then sharing them. That is the show you see today …” says painter Hartman. “I transfer the sketch onto a canvas.”
He said there is no planned reception, but he will be present at the opening night of “Peter and the Starcatcher” on Jan. 12 to visit with people in the gallery. He will also have photos of his process as he painted these distinctive characters. (Boys on white illustration board and girls on black background.)
“Starting with a simple sketch (of a clearly-envisioned critter that has sprung from Hartmann’s fertile imagination), I transfer the sketch to canvas, making minor changes in design and space layout,” he said. “I then fill in the canvas with color on what I call a `block out.’ In this sitting I fill the canvas with paint, not worrying if it’s the right color or not. The goal of the `block out’ is to cover the white gesso primer with color and design and begin to envision the painting’s first breath. The next step is refinement of both color and design. Typically, my paintings take eight to 10 sittings to finish. These sittings can be anywhere from four to six hours each with total time to complete a painting being 40-50 hours.
“The handmade frames are of my design and construction. Crafted from redwood and poplar, with a natural finish, the frames are intended to evoke memories of knotty pine walls in club basements, decorated with family photos.”
Hartmann, a native of Baltimore, studied arts and photography at The Maryland Institute College of Art. His daytime job is developing affordable housing for the homeless. He has developed affordable housing in Maryland, Arizona and Colorado. He also developed “American Style Homes” in Takamatsu, Japan. When asked when he finds time to paint, he replies that he generally finds time on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
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