“I believe art has the power to move people and that the most effective, beautiful, and truthful way to do that is through realism.”
On Painting With Compassion
BY JONATHAN HODGE
As a painter, I’m inspired by the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. As a New Orleans native uprooted by Hurricane Katrina, I was very moved by the thousands who lost lives, family, or belongings. And with the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters, as well as man-made ones, I feel constantly challenged to find glimmers of hope in these struggles, and to paint them as realistically and with as much compassion as possible. I believe art has the power to move people and that the most effective, beautiful, and truthful way to do that is through realism.
In my multi-figure, large-scale painting “Katrina,” there is a group of people on a raft wading through floodwaters. It is inspired not only by the hurricane but also by several art historical sources, namely Theodore Gericault’s painting “The Raft of the Medusa.”
It took me many months of planning to determine the composition and to coordinate with models. I created preparatory studies of the lighting, figure arrangements, and the color palette as well as drawings of expressions of individual figures. These numerous small pieces helped me envision the big picture to come as well as avoid pictorial problems later on.
Working From Life: Struggle and Delight
The other artwork included here reflects my interest in working from life and always striving towards technical proficiency in terms of materials and techniques. There is so much to be learned by directly observing and recording reality – it’s a constant struggle and delight.
The recent sale of “Katrina” at the Haynes Galleries has served as an incentive to continue working large despite the many logistical difficulties involved in doing so. Currently, I am developing a body of small and large-scale works depicting the turmoil of 2020.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jonathan Hodge was born and raised in Louisiana, and received his BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 2012. In 2012, he presented his artwork at the Seventh International Conference on the Arts in Society held in Liverpool, England, as part of the Cultural Olympiad before studying for four years under Juliette Aristides. Recently, he participated in exhibitions at the Maryhill Museum of Art and Haynes Galleries and has been working on private commissions. Currently, Hodge lives and works in Seattle, WA.
Register here for Realism Live, a global virtual art conference in October 2020.