Donald K Hall talks about his art and ideas:
approach to art, painting, and philosophy of life in general is a
picture is worth a thousand words. My paintings are fueled by my bond
to the land, (in Hawaiian the Aina). My Hawaii art is not
sophisticated, but is as I see it. speaking with a quiet voice to and
from fundamental color and form."
"art scene " in Hawaii is pre-occupied with "Postcard art"... art that
addresses current locations and time as souvenirs or I was here Holiday
images. I would like to think of my Hawaii Art work as art of the
"eternal now", a state where one becomes one with the experience of the
full Hawaiian moment.
My abstract art Attempts to draw on
an inner world that produce the most absorbing color paintings that
bring across a feeling of a highly beautiful transcendental universe.
Are my works masterpieces? Well, maybe some of them - indeed respected
artists have told me when visiting my studio - "This work is a
masterpiece - do not sell it, at least not for a low sum. It is hard
for me to say what is a masterpiece - especially in this day and age
when the focus on the quality of workmanship and craftsmanship in all
art has changed. Are there masterpieces being produced today? Have I
painted a masterpiece? This is not for me to say, and only for
history to judge, which I hope will be kind to me.
Banyan Trees, Palm Trees, Koa Trees, Mankind has a connection with
trees since the earliest time... The tree paintings are an allusion to
the human condition... roots anchored in the ground, head in the
heavens... arms (branches) reaching to the sky. The paintings of my
Hawaii trees are an exploration... the search continues.... painting
trees is not related to the ethnic group from which an artist
comes. Is this "Hawaiian Art? Most Definitely, as the term
"Hawaii Art" and "Hawaiian Painting" defines the geographical location
from where the art comes, and since the work is of the Hawaiian
landscape, this also relates to the content of the paintings.
Plein air: Working directly from
Hawaii nature, from direct observation is the essence of plein air
painting. Nature is the teacher, providing the answers to, lighting,
color, lightness and darkness and values. No need to invent - rather,
in plein air, not to impose the artist's ego on nature, yet to be
receptive, observant. In plein air, through developing the powers of
observation, a greater sensitivity to visual reality emerges.
I paint faces but not portraits. The human face is possibly of the most
fascinating landscape, each line, shape and angle revealing a lifetime
of experience, thought and emotion. It is all there - I just have to
look and put it down on the canvas, Normally, I may not gaze at a
person's face, as it is impolite, disrespectful and elicits difficult
responses. Yet, the portrait painter receives a license to do this, and
in painting the paintings are the record, the universal spirit
recognized in all beings and creation. From this level of awareness,
phenomenal manifestation of the play of the forces existent in
Expressionist: I see this as
but mere labels, tags, attached names, which people fight over and in a
more fundamental level of reality have no real existence, but are mere
appended labels. Is there really "Hawaiian art", or is their just "art"
per se with no labeling? Is there a "Hawaiian artist or Hawaii Artist"
or is there just an artist? When you contemplate an artist or any human
being, he/she is only a human... there is nothing "more Discerned in
his/her biology. So one producing "Hawaiian art" or "Any art" is
producing art whose content transcends the labels of "Hawaiian art" or
"any other art". Universal art is the basis. Critics and political
beings may attach the labels. Shouldn't we strive for that which
Painting is not dead, nor should
working with paint on canvas be considered anachronistic. The tradition
of painting is a continuing and developing one. Progress is yet to be
made, building on the work of the great painters of the not-too-distant
It would seem that the advent of the
"ready-made" earlier in the last century, has usurped the value of
craftsmanship in art. I believe that this is just a detour from the
path. It is only a matter of time in which innovation for the sake of
innovation alone will fall by the wayside. The true values of art will
survive, as art strives for eternity.
My landscapes are both painted in the
open air and my studio. The work progresses through the direct process
of observing nature. Opening the eyes so greater depths of color and
spatial relationship appear. While in the field, what takes place on
the canvas seems as a reduced reflection of all that I experience. Yet
when viewed back in the confines of my studio, it is clear that the
canvas has brought back the vitality of a greater experience.
I feel that it is the landscape or Seascape , which has painted itself,
not by me. I have been but a facilitator through which the landscape
has been painted as a record recorded of its presence. Although not
born in the Islands of Hawaii, I feel the spirit of Aloha every day and
this spirit permeates though my work.One of the joys of painting is the
endless combination that the paint, color and texture manifest on the
canvas. When successfully different colors go into collaboration or
oscillation with each other. Layers of paint are built up with various
degrees of transparency creating unpredictable effects. I like a good,
textured painting which gives me the sense that there is something more
than the image itself. Monet is said to have put each canvas aside, and
pulled it out when the particular atmospheric/lighting effect appeared.
A particular canvas was earmarked for only a certain atmospheric
effect, and thus he would not work on it under a set of conditions
different than those he had decided to be suitable for that piece. This
is wild, but I haven't completely figured it out as yet, however, I do
leave the painting out in my studio and view it for a time before I
release it for sale.
I have continued with the same Hawaii
Art canvas under varied conditions, all of these conditions adding up
in terms of layers of paint, one over the other, contributing to an
unforeseen final mood which is born from all the different painting
sessions coming into harmony not without conflict having taken place
between these same layers/sessions, and their traces evident along with
their resolution. I have held back some canvases for over fifteen years
waiting for the right moment to finish it Hawaiian Reef #42
Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua'a is one of them .
Time seems to be an indispensable
element of the work. Time has no meaning. The span of time from the
beginning of the canvas until the realization of its completion has no
predetermined time line. Time is necessary to see all the subtleties in
the work and develop the feeling for what alterations or modifications
are to be made for all the parts of the painting to live together in
I am often been asked, "how much time did it take to paint this, or how
long does it take to paint a painting". I actually don't know, I do not
Time is necessary for separating the
painter's labor of the painting from the intensity of feelings that
accompanied the act of bringing the raw unfinished painting to be on
the canvas. The earlier stage is identified with the stimuli outside of
the canvas, and during that period, when viewing the painting, I will
see more the external stimuli, than the work itself on the canvas. This
could be for better or for worse... Yet, the same canvas may
communicate absolutely nothing to another viewer. Thus, only once I
have put the work out of sight and over the course of time allowed that
memory of the experience to fade, then I would be able to once again
look at my work and see it on its own merits and make decisions on how
to or if to proceed.
It would seem that this passage of
time is in effect another layer of paint - in this case invisible, but
not entirely intangible - which goes on to the canvas and becomes part
of the totality of the work.
Most of my paintings are for sale. An
artist must survive, and as such I must sell my works to buy time to
create new paintings. So, please be encouraged to purchase my
works and become a part of this creative process.
Paintings that are no longer
available are indicated in the caption below the image as being sold,
however, if prints are available it will be indicated.
About lighting: Light is the key -
lighting varies with time of day and accents different shapes and
features. Light through clouds like a spot light on one area of the
landscape highlighting it in contrast to the surroundings. Lighting of
the paintings is of utmost importance - good lighting will make the
painting work, poor lighting will hide what is there. Atmospheric
factors change the light and the softness or hardness of view. The
natural lighting here in Hawaii is different then any were else
in the world I have painted.
Gauguin and the Impressionists including greats like Pissarro, Sisley,
Morisot showed us to connect with nature in a fresh way. Kandinsky
showed us the Spiritual in Art to be true to our inner self.
Modern Impressionist painting and
impressionism in landscape painting and landscape paintings also has
elements of expressionism and/or expressionist tendencies contemporary
art. Figurative art and figurative painting is a non-abstract where the
paintings are a window to the world. Representational art and
representational paintings more specifically.
sky in paintings of sky and clouds: the clouds are painted from living
moving clouds whose life leaves traces with the oil paint on the
Abstract and Figurative Art On one
level all art is abstract, for a painting to work, it must have certain
compositional qualities of color, form, texture, light and shade flow,
etc. which are essentially abstract. Yet, we often in our imagination
see figures in abstract art. The figurative has great hold on the mind,
and I admit to my personal near-enslavement to the form and figurative
of the tangible. Having said that, I have a great love and respect for
good abstract art, and indeed envy those artists who can produce from
within themselves, work which is freed from the form and figure, yet
whose harmonies trigger off such a wonderful reaction in the viewer.
Will the power holding - individuals
in the art world recognize a painting, which is art for art's sake? If
there is no social-political connotation. Is art for art's sake doomed?
You can make the difference!