Artist Interview: Peter Hess

Artist: Peter Hess
Discipline: Painting
State: CA
What is your current state of mind?
What is your greatest fear?
Losing my sense of humor.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
huh, hmmm, ummm, uhh, what?

When and where were you happiest?
I’m not even sure what happiness is. I’m content with contentment, which generally settles
in when things haven’t turned out too badly.
Which talent would you most like to have? Why?
The facility for interacting easily with people.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
There are so many. But I abandoned that quest long ago.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Surviving. Being self-sufficient while remaining interested and productive.
If you have a “greatest regret”… How has that changed you?
There may come a point in life when there is only enough energy for looking back. I have
regrets, but for the moment I prefer to look forward rather than rehashing the past.
What is your motto?
Treat others as you wish to be treated.
Did you have a mentor? How was that?
No. Could probably have used one.
What makes you uniquely you as an artist and person?
I’m not sure I am that unique. I aim to create something original, interesting and attractive.
But, frankly, artists are a dime a dozen. In an odd way, perhaps my cynicism makes me a
little different. Once you accept that there isn’t some divine plan, that you’re one of the 8
billion self-interested homo sapiens squeezing out every other living thing on the planet, it is
somehow liberating. You can get on with what you wish to do in the short time allotted.
What 5 words would you use to describe your artwork?
Meaningful marks on a surface. Meaningful marks on a surface.
What is your dream project?
Pursuit of art without worrying about money.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Still waiting for that one.
If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and Why?
A lemur. They leap, practically fly, with abandon. Attractive, curious, intelligent, they seem
to have few enemies —except humans, of course, which present a threat to every species,
not least our own.
Describe your favorite color to somebody who is blind.
Green is the color of plants, of life, of newness. It smells clean. It is cool, bright and
energetic. Yet, it can be burnished to calm stability.
What was your most memorable a-ha! art moment?
There have been many, but I’ll always remember seeing my first Matisse in person after only
looking at reproductions. I saw passages of raw canvas, pencil lines, drips, unfinished areas. I thought, “Wow, you can do that?” Yes you can. The gesture can suffice for the act.
Tell us about your current body of work?
The paintings and prints I call “Woodworks” are representations of once-living things,
extinguished and pressed into a second life of utilitarian service. While alive, they sustain
and engage us. Turned to timber, they frame our lives from cradle to coffin.
How has your style and practice changed over the years?
Every artist has to invent painting for themselves. For some artists, that need be done only
once. They find a way of working which is serviceable, and which interprets the outer or
inner world for them. That style defines them and how they are viewed. As far as I’m
concerned, I am restless, and my work is often subject to reinvention. But, even as I invent
and reinvent, foremost is always the goal to create original work and craft pictures which are
visually compelling while providing stimulating content.
Where do you see yourself going from here forward in your artistic explorations?
Time will tell.


Bio / Statement:

I have been an art-worker for a long time. In the late ’80s and early ’90s I was cheered to enjoy a modicum of success with shows, sales and some good reviews. I’ve always continued to work, though the external rewards were not always forthcoming. Now, I am buoyed by the response to what I’ve been producing over the last several years. The pictures, I feel, are my
best yet. There have been several significant shows and a number on the horizon. But I’m
reminded that stimulation and satisfaction happen primarily in the studio. One gets many
‘nos,’ and, once in a while, a ‘yes.’ Sometimes a bit of fleeting success shows up. But what
endures is doing the work. It is the only time that I really feel like myself.

Image Specs:

Title: Babel
Dimensions: 48″x36″
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Year: 2017
Title: Cradle to Coffin
Dimensions: 48″x36″
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Year: 2017
Title: Racks
Dimensions: 40″x30″
Medium: Acrylic on panel
Year: 2017