The Artwork of
Kevin M. Haller
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Artist Statement

WHY I PAINT
The beauty around us is amazing.  Capturing it on a canvas is the very next thing that I want to do--always.  I love the challenge and thrill of picture-making, and creating a visual trail of life experiences brings me great enjoyment.  Most importantly, I hope that my art lifts the human spirit. 

In a way too, I feel that my paintings say thanks to the Heavens from me. 
HOW I PAINT
My painting process has three stages: Inspiration, Design, and Execution. 
Inspiration
When starting a painting, I consider how the subject matter is impacting me, and why it compels me to make a painting.  My painting process depends on understanding clearly the inspiration that I feel.  This is not a simple thing to do, nor can it be ignored.  The obective of the painting is at stake. 

Stirring this same emotion in the viewer becomes the objective of the painting.  Vague understanding of the emotion, such as "I want to paint that field because it is so pretty", does not suffice.  A vague objective could only lead to limited success.  The analysis must be more mindful, such as "I am awed by the array of beautiful orange hues that I see in that field. The evening light is casting a orange veil over the field, transforming the dull brown into gold.". 

When I have my inspiration in hand, my painting objective is also clarified, and I can now begin the design of the painting. 
Design
My goal is not to copy nature but to inspire like nature.  For me, this approach leads to the best art.  As the need to copy diminishes, artistic interpretation is encouraged, and this gives priceless "life" to my painting.  Further, beautiful pigments can be utilized, not sacraficed to match a tree trunk.  And most importantly, the essential point can be stated most effectively as the desire to make a copy does not compete with this goal. 

Much effort, however, arises from this approach.  An image must be created that the world has not seen before.  Specifically, I must orchestrate an image that inspires exactly as nature is inspiring me.  This is the heart of the challenge and thrill of painting! 

I approach this design effort like a scientist.  I use many design techniques that draw from the science of art.  Foremost, I spend a lot of time in front of the subject, outdoors (en plein air).  The most accurate knowledge will come from this firsthand experience.  I also take reference photographs, and make thumbnail sketches. 

For the design, I apply time-honored picture-making principles, as well as science.  The concepts (and the source artist) that most impact my work are the following:
   -Large masses must speak the idea - Robert Henri
   -Exaggerate the essential - Van Gogh
   -Simplify the value pattern - Bernard Dunstan
   -Paint what you see, not what you know - Ken Howard
   -Indicate that you noticed something - Walter Sickert
   -Apply the Golden Ratio - Leonardo Da Vinci
   -Utilize rhyming - J M W Turner

I conclude by confirming the design on the canvas.  I paint the major shapes in approximate color using very thin paint, adjusting until convinced.  This foundation layer limits major alterations later and leads to confident brush strokes from the first mark to the signature.  Once this designing is complete, I'm ready to begin Execution.  Additional design decisions will be needed ongoing, but these are expected to be minor in scope only.  Execution is banking on clarification of all major decisions, such as what is the sky shape. 
Execution
Execution is my final stage, where I apply the paint with full and final vigor to the canvas.  During this process, artists are presented with infinite creative choices.  How an artist responds reflects his insights and dreams, and in aggregate defines his unique style.  For each of the decision areas, the possible responses fall somewhere along a continuum of infinite points: 
   -Representational vs Abstract
   -Color Dominance vs Value Dominance
   -Brushstroke Broken vs Bruskstroke Significant
   -Paint Thin vs Paint Thick

This assemblage of painting thoughts and dreams describes my unique style. 

Representational vs Abstract
For me, the thrill and benefit of painting is the ability to communicate a feeling.  I feel that I could only accomplish this by making art that is representational.  However, while reproducing an appearance is essential, I am not inclined to provide photo-realistic detail.  I'm a poet.  I anticipate fewer marks saying things best.  Over time, I have found this especially true in regards to capturing the essential "unseen".  As an example, when I paint a horse, this approach captures its spirit along with its muscle and bone. 

Color Dominance vs Value Dominance
Color is my fascination.  I live by that sword, and die by it.  I want my paintings to be so color-effective that the color alone tells 80% of the story.  To be clear, my goal is not pretty color, but effective color.  When I apply each color, the judgement that I consider is this: 
   "Does this color--amongst all neighboring colors--speak the message from 6 feet away?"

Though color is my master, I certainly do not ignore value.  I am intrigued by and convinced of the impact of the major value patterns in the composition.  In my paintings, the large value patterns are evident and always arranged mindfully. 

Brushstroke Broken vs Bruskstroke Significant
"Broken", impressionistic brushstrokes is one of the best ideas in the history of art.  I never tire of looking at them.  Further, after creating my many paintings, I have noticed firsthand that it is very effective.  I look for my brushstrokes to also show the underlying "drawing" of a painting.  As beautiful drawings shows beautiful and consistent marks, brushstrokes in a painting must perform that same function. 

Paint Thin vs Paint Thick
I do not shy from using thin paint in passages of a painting.  Again, this bias comes from wanting to keep the statement simple so that it is most effective.  Further, I paint in watercolor too, and I suspect that my fascination with transparent watercolor washes influences my approach in both mediums, watercolor and oil.  I do look for thick paint to bring great benefit for my paintings, however, especially for its ability to add color depth and variety. 

WHAT I PAINT
Primarily I paint the beauty of Missouri and South Dakota.  I was born and raised in Missouri.  That patch of land is what I know and love best.  Then I married a girl from South Dakota, and that put pretty scenery in front of me personally and professionally.  The wild, rugged and unspoiled beauty of that landscape has me thinking that Heaven just may be in South Dakota somewhere. 


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Biography

Kevin's passion for art arose from growing up in the Missouri Ozarks (Osage County, Freeburg, MO).  Art springs from nature, and nature is all around you when you live on a rural family farm.  The blessing was magnified by having an identical twin brother (Keith).  Days were filled with non-stop outdoor pursuits by the two.  The fun literally never stopped, and the appreciation of nature grew with every experience. 

Many rivers, creeks, and farm ponds were nearby, and Kevin developed a keen interest in fishing, and this ultimately sparked the desire to paint.  Seeing fishing art on the cover of fishing magazines, Kevin was profoundly impressed that art could generate the feeling and excitement of being there.  In particular, Kevin credits "fishing facts" magazine and Wisconsin master wildlife artist, Wiley Miller.  In his early teens, Kevin purchased a paint set to copy the art that he saw, and his journey of a lifetime began. 

 
Kevin has no academic art training, but he does not lack art education.  He has studied art on his own his whole life, amassing a small library in the process.  This written knowlege as well as nature are his teachers. 

Kevin is blessed by marriage to Penny.  Penny's love and support of his art are the cure for the bad days and the toast on good ones. 


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Recognition

Saint Louis Artists' Guild Exhibition: "Traditions in 2-D"
Exhibition Dates: November 15, 2009 - January 8, 2010
Juror: William LaChance
Fred and Mildred Carpenter Annual Prize for Painting (2nd Overall)
"Forest Park Sycamores, Winter"
Watercolor Missouri National 2009
Juror of Selection: John T. Salminen NWS, AWS.DF
Juror of Awards: Marlin Rotach NWS, WHS
Award of Achievement
"Hay Field Near Custer (South Dakota), Fog"
Augusta Plein Air Art Event, Sunset Quick Paint
Purchase Award
"Sunset Over Balducci Barn"
Southern Watercolor Society 31st Annual Exhibition 2008
Juror: Linda Moyer
"Crabs on THE SUN"
Metzger Memorial All Media Exhibition - Saint Louis Artist Guild
Winsor Newton Award - waterbox (5th Overall)
Juror: Marshall Arisman
"Thunder Over the Hills (Custer State Park, South Dakota)"
2007 Saint Louis Watercolor Society Annual Membership Exhibit "Big Splash"
Daler-Rowney Award
Juror: Carol Carter
"Done Pulling (Hermann)"
2007 Saint Louis Artists' Guild Exhibition: "Warm Washes/Cool Colors"
Harold Bunting Memorial Prize (3rd Overall)
Juror: David Coolidge
"The Frozen Slough"
2007 Saint Louis Artist Guild Exhibition, "The Race Is On"
William Bixby Bequest Prize (Best of Show)
Juror: Jerry M. Ellis, AWS-NWS
"Thundering Down the Track"
2006 Paint Saint Louis Plein Air Competition
Artists Choice Award
Juror: The participating artists (30+)
"2006 World Series Parade"
2006 Lafayette Square Plein Air Competition
3rd Place Watercolor Class<
Juror: Rito Cirillo
"2006 Lafayette Square Plein Air Competition #3"
2006 Lafayette Square Plein Air Competition
Honorable Mention Oil Class
Juror: Rito Cirillo
"2006 Lafayette Square Plein Air Competition #4"
2006 Saint Louis Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition "Spring into Watercolor" Creative Arts Gallery
Honorable Mention
Juror: Skip Lawrence
"Peace"
2004 Saint Louis Artists' Guild "Wet and Wild Watercolor" National Water Media Exhibition
Honorable Mention
Juror: Judi Betts
"My Zinnias"
2004 Saint Louis Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition "Awash in Watercolor" Creative Arts Gallery
Judge's Mention
Juror: Don Getz
"My Zinnias"
2002 Saint Louis Watercolor Society Annual Membership Exhibit "Big Splash"
Savoir Faire Sennelier Award
Juror: Margaret Keller
"Marciana Marina Peace"
2001 Saint Louis Artists' Guild "Aqueous Solution" National Water Media Exhibition
Artmart Award
Juror: Arne Westerman
"Purple Profusion"
1999 Saint Louis Watercolor Society Annual Membership Exhibit "Big Splash"
Artmart Merit Award
Juror: George "Papa" Tutt
"Sanibel Sunset"