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Scenes of fields and farms captured in oil will be on display at the Arts Council for Wyoming County, 31 South Main St.
“I was born on a farm in Oatka. When I was small, I started school in Perry, then when I was young I moved to Silver Springs,” said artist Phil Hewitt, whose “Farm and Fields Exhibition” opens with a reception at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the ACWC gallery. “All my friends had farms. I was on farms all the time.”
Hewitt began painting seriously in 1996, and although not formally trained, he has devoted himself to becoming a skilled painter with the help of books and DVDs.
Hewitt said painting is something he has to do, like breathing. He’s drawn since he was a child.
He said he’s also been attuned to the natural world all his life.
“My brothers and I were always outside in the woods or playing in the hay fields. We had an area just outside of town that we used to call Six Valleys, a combination of woods and fields, and most day you could find us there until almost dark,” he recalled. “Even as a young boy, I loved looking at the roll of the hills and the cows in the pastures. I could feel the spirituality in the woods among the trees.”
Hewitt drove trucks for 25 years before going to work at the Department of Corrections. He retired in 2010 and then worked for his neighbor who was a farmer. Hewitt said he never had the time to paint or draw when he drove trucks.
The pieces take Hewitt a couple hours to paint. The collection of about 30 pieces in the exhibit are recent works.
Hewitt, who also paints with acrylics, said he tries to paint things that he has a feeling for such as old, smaller farms “that are disappearing as a way of life, and places that I’ve seen as we travel around.”
He describes his work as “impressionistic representational.”
“The longer I paint, the more I try to simplify, to find the feel of a place,” he said. “I try to think about how it feels to walk across a plowed field or a field of waist-high grass.”
When asked what he wants people to take away from his paintings, Hewitt said some sort of connection with the work. The artworks mix scenes of small farms he’s seen and his own imagination.
“That’s probably the highest praise,” he said. “When you do work (like art) ... it’s always about a connection with somebody.”
A Quick Look
WHAT: “Farms & Fields,” an exhibition of paintings by Phil Hewitt.
WHERE: Arts Council for Wyoming County, 31 South Main St., Perry.
WHEN: Through April 30. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The gallery is closed to the public Sundays through Tuesdays.
OPENING RECEPTION: 6:30 p.m. April 8. The opening reception is concurrent with the opening of “Travels in Fiber,” an exhibit of fiber art by Nancy Kraus, who is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m.