New England artist Grant Hacking was born and raised in South Africa and resided there until the age of 25 so he still experiences great pleasure in depicting the diverse animal life native to the African continent. Living in this exotic location provided Hacking the opportunity to travel far and wide during the early years of his career researching material for his innovative wildlife compositions. However, a move to the United States in 1990 coupled with his dedication to a wife and two growing daughters motivated the artist to begin focusing on more localized subject matter as well. His oeuvre now includes figurative work, architecture, coastal scenes, and landscapes, especially those close to his home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
“Strictly speaking, I do not want to be categorized as either a wildlife painter or a landscapist because what I really paint is nature,” he explains. “I try to give equal time to both genres. When the weather is good, I enjoy painting en plein air, and when the chill winds of winter arrive, I return to my studio where painting my memories of Africa instills a sense of warmth.”
Although his technique varies greatly between the two genres – his landscapes are very painterly and a bit abstract while his brushwork becomes tighter when portraying wildlife – the two subjects really complement one another. “I apply what I learn painting landscapes to creating more authentic habitats for my wildlife, and conversely, the technical skills I enforce through my renditions of wildlife go back into my landscapes.”
Painting African subjects from memory also allows Hacking the freedom to create more imaginative compositions. In turn, painting on site gives his landscapes a sense of immediacy and a unique quality of light that can never be duplicated in the studio.
Self-taught, the artist comes by his talent naturally as both parents were professional painters. He relates that it was not until later in life that he realized he had not only learned many of his technical skills by observing his father at the easel, but that he had also gained remarkable insights when it came to exhibiting and marketing his own work.
Because painting is an all-consuming passion, Hacking remains personally involved with his oils from start to finish. “I want to make certain the buyer is getting the most for his investment so I complete the package with frames chosen to complement each piece of art. I construct the rustic wood frames for my wildlife paintings myself while my other subjects are surrounded by handmade gold-leaf frames giving them a sense of elegant simplicity.”
Reflecting upon his career as a professional artist, Hacking notes, “When all is said and done, being a painter is really about making connections. Artists put so much of themselves into their paintings that buyers are often attracted as much by the personality of the artist as they are by a specific work. For this reason, the artist must strive to make certain each painting evokes a personal experience between the viewer and his art, one which allows the imagination to create what the brush leaves out.” by Myrna Zanetell