|One of Bud Hensgen's traditional landscapes|
Like many artists, Gallery Underground member Bud Hensgen has never been far away from art."I was always the kid in class who could draw," says Hensgen. "Even when I went into the Foreign Service, I took my paints with me." After his 30-year Foreign Service career came to a close, he began painting even more, taking a class from Jane McElvany Coonce through adult education [Coonce is also a gallery member].
In this class, Hensgen began doing traditional landscapes in oil, which he enjoyed then and still enjoys. He began entering shows and displaying work at venues, making a name for himself as a skilled traditional landscape painter.
To grow as an artist, Hensgen began taking additional classes at the Torpedo Factory through the Art League in Alexandria, VA, studying with well-known abstract artist Joyce McCartin - this time in acrylic. "This," says Hensgen, "was a very different painting experience. There is a spirit of play with abstracts; you go into it with no expectations, and play with the medium." Many traditional painters find when they begin painting abstracts that they have suddenly lost the "safety net" of a photo or object they are basing their painting on - despite this, Hensgen was energized. "You immediately get into a dialogue with the painting; the panorama is so wide when you're not in a dialogue with a "thing" - and only in a dialogue with the canvas," he says
|Acrylic abstract by Bud Hensgen|
This experience encouraged Hensgen to look at other artists' abstract paintings, in museums and in books. "Your horizon really expands when you look at famous abstracts; you learn an appreciation for their work."
Honing his abstract skills with additional classes, Hensgen has now become known for his large-scale abstracts. Hensgen feels that with abstract painting, there is more ego involved. "I find that abstracts are much more personal than traditional works; there is more 'you' in an abstract." Artists who have done both types of paintings will no doubt agree; although many painters will "abstract" a traditional still-life or scene - or use something as a jumping-off point - there is much more of the artist's imagination involved in a pure abstract painting. What Hensgen really enjoys about abstract is the idea of "color as color; form as form; two forms speaking to each other."
Many abstract artists work in series; it can be scary when the series is finished. "When you work on an abstract series and then finish it, you have to get a new inspiration," Hensgen says. "You are walking a bit in the desert." He will, like many artists, continue to work in both mediums, enjoying the journey of working in two very opposing disciplines.
|Hensgen returning to his roots, working on a |
traditional landscape in the gallery
--Sandi Parker, Gallery Underground Co-Director