“Always in flux…”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Charles Hildebrandt
Paul Zimmerman: How did you develop interest in art?
Charles Hildebrandt: Both my father and grandmother were painters, and painted landscapes and portraits. There are many memories of my father heading off to paint plein air, and sometimes I would accompany him.
I always had a sketch pad as a kid, and loved to draw detailed images of sailboats and aircraft.
PZ: Landscape is a major theme in your paintings. Why is it important?
CH: I feel like landscapes, especially now, are always in flux. With the ever-changing nature of landscapes and the world around us, we can capture a particular thought or feeling about a landscape that is somewhat of a time capsule.
PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your paintings?
CH: Many of the paintings are an interpretation of a scene that I have witnessed, or natural elements of many different kinds that come to mind and are melded together to form a painting. I may see a sky in one setting, and then another subject matter to use in another setting. Furthermore, much of the work has roots in a particular emotion or event.
PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when your start a new piece?
CH: Maybe to think about how, when completed, the painting will make a person feel. Or, perhaps what they will interpret and internalize from the painting.
PZ: How do you know when the painting is finished?
CH: That can be really difficult, because sometimes you just want to tweak or alter a bit more. The completion point is when, in your mind, you feel like you can give no more to the work that satisfies it’s creation.
PZ: Has your practice changed over time?
CH: Prior to practicing mostly landscape painting, mixed media pieces were the focus. These consisted of different materials, and incorporated photography into their creation. It wasn’t until after my father passed away that I began to paint consistently.
PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
CH: Homer, Henri, Bellows, Vedder
PZ: How would you define art?
CH: That is so hard to put in a dictionary-like literal definition; I would say that art is the process by which we express ourselves using different mediums.
PZ: What are you working on now?
CH: Currently working on a couple of paintings, one involving some recent experiences on the NC coast.
PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?
CH: I believe the pandemic, in some form or another, has undoubtedly affected the creative process. Over the past year, as the pandemic has dragged on, inspiration and focus have been trying at times. I think artists have been forced to delve more deeply and widely in the need to create.