Q&A: Painting – Tony Hogan

UK based artist Tony Hogan, has been using PanPastel since 2012. He regularly teaches workshops and classes around the UK. We asked Tony about his life as an artist and how he uses PanPastel.

Tell us about your background as an artist

As a small child from a large family whose father had passed away our family finances were very limited, and so one of the main ways my Mum had to keep us all out of mischief was to provide coloured pencils and paper to occupy our time.  Thus from as early as I can remember I would create art.

At the age of 14 my school career master suggested I should go to art college due to my obvious ability in that area and total lack of any other skills. Luckily my college interview went well and at the tender age of 15 I started my life long career as an artist. Many years of art college training both full and part time followed. But I do not feel this made me an artist, it just gave me the building blocks to start a lifetime of learning about and developing my skills in the art world

On leaving full-time art college I had to earn a living and started my first job as a carpet fitter. Luckily after only a delightfully fun six months doing this I got my first break in the art world and became a display and exhibition designer with a major UK retailer in the north of England.

A large part of my time was spent window dressing which is where I feel I attuned my compositional and spatial skills to a high degree. A couple of years later a chance to move into the advertising world came my way and I began a hugely successful career creating and designing all aspects of advertising and marketing art from corporate images to television commercials. After ten years in the commercial art world where I had attained the position of UK and Ireland advertising/ marketing manager for Blue Bell apparel (Wrangler Jeans) I felt stifled and wanted to direct my life into fine art painting and drawing. With the support of my wife and with a small son I walked away from a lucrative career and returned to painting as a full time business.  Through the very tough first years my wife and I ran several other ventures alongside my art to make ends meet. Eventually around twenty years ago I was able to dedicate all to art, build a spacious studio and gallery and start to organise and run art holiday courses.

The last twenty year have been my most creative and prolific developing my love of en plein air painting of landscapes and seascapes. With occasional forays into portraiture, animal studies, townscape’s and most any other  types and styles of painting as often requested.

PanPastel on St Cuthbert Somerset Velour (Black)

In 2014 we moved 400 miles south to Cornwall with its glorious unique light and the warmer part of the UK. This move has provided exactly the environment I create best in, painting directly in front of my subject matter en plein air. Painting this way is my preferred method but by no means exclusive. Circumstances, desire and weather often bring into play my return to the studio to complete a piece and even at times to develop the work from start to finish. Developing and completing pieces from memory or from a  minimalistic small sketch can often give an energy and freshness to work not even gained en plein air. As a demonstrator at national art fairs and for local art groups this latter method has proved invaluable. I am not enamored by working from a photographic reference which I find tends to stifle the expressiveness of the work unless a great deal of loose interpretation is introduced.

For me it’s not just a matter of producing an easily recognizable image of the object/ view in front of me. it’s about taking the subject matter opening my heart and showing the world my vision.

PanPastel painting, including the new Pearl Medium Coarse White for the light and surf

When did you first start using PanPastel Colors?

In August 2012 I became aware of the amazing PanPastel range whilst demonstrating at an art fair where Paul & Bernie Giddens of Premium Art Brands the UK importers were introducing them to the UK market for the first time. In November of the same year (also whilst demonstrating at another art fair) I was privileged to be able to test them and was immediately astounded by what could be achieved.

The extra fine texture of PanPastel Colors provides many advantages for me. Perhaps one of the most significant is the very way I am able to stand at arms length from my easel and let my arm flow through the work using my whole upper torso and not just my fingers and wrist. Very much the way I paint with other media. This allowed me to create far looser and more expressive work. Big dramatic skies, seas and land masses can be achieved in the sweep of a few strokes of the arm, bringing in detail later with one of the smaller Sofft Tools or if necessary a pastel pencil.

PanPastel on Pastelbord

How do you use PanPastel and what benefits do they offer you?

PanPastel with its very low dust aspect is another great advantage for me, as an asthmatic sufferer I no longer end up coughing and choking  from clouds of pastel powder (from sticks) in the air or end up with my clothes covered in pastel dust.

Traditional stick/block and pencil pastels always reach a point during the creative process where even the support with the deepest of tooth becomes saturated and slippage or shine as it is known occurs preventing further layering and blending of colours.  With PanPastel Colors I have never had this situation and can focus all my energy on the creative process, laying and blending without fear.

Another great benefit I have found is the ability to use these on extremely  smooth support surfaces, in fact it appears the smoother the surface the easier it is to work with. My favorite surface is Encausticbord from Ampersand. Although for show demonstrations I will often use Lana by Hahnemuhle which works well and is considerably more cost effective.

Whilst experimenting with PanPastel for mixed media I recently introduced a line marker to define edges and qualify the structure of the objects in the work. This proved most successful and will continue to be an aspect of my work as and when appropriate. Introducing water in areas of the pastel whilst in creation has also proved interesting giving a different textural effect through the piece.

There are many great benefits of working with PanPastel for me with the main one being the freedom of expressive creation it provides allowing the full flow of my artistic desires.

PanPastel on Pastelbord

Do you have any tips about using PanPastel?

If I were to suggest any tips when working with PanPastel the first would have to be to keep your pans organised in the palette trays in a way that you know where the colours are and are easily accessible without wasting time and energy scrambling about looking for this colour or that colour.

Who or what inspires you creatively?

I suppose throughout my life many artists have subconsciously provided inspiration. Historically I would have to go back to the great masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, the impressionists with particular note of Monet for his use of colour, Matisse, Van Gogh. The great English artist Turner, particularly his later works. Picasso for his inventiveness and constant exploration of what can be achieved artistically. And more recently I have to mention David Hockney who continues this journey and whom I was lucky enough to observe, chat about art and at times paint alongside in recent years whilst he produced his Royal Academy exhibition in 2012.

PanPastel on Lana Paper

What excites you about your life as an artist?

It’s interesting to consider what excites me about my life as an artist. Simply everything about creating art excites me. When I start a piece, which I do most every day, there is a flood of energy that runs through my entire body and into the work.  Some days when tutoring one of our art holiday courses I have to rein myself in during the demonstration or when showing an individual a particular technique as the excitement it brings to me often wants to take over.

Like all artists, life can get in the way of creation and produce a dark moment, these are immediately eradicated once I pick up a pencil, brush or pastel and the world’s worries disappear in a flow of creative invention.

PanPastel on Encausticbord

What’s the most valuable lesson you have learnt on your journey as an artist?

Interestingly I am not by nature a patient person, but I have learnt that once at my easel I have the patience and calm to share with the world. I am convinced that much of the world’s anguish and conflict would not occur if more people elected creation instead of destruction.

What are your artistic (and other) goals for the future?

Looking to the future artistically I am aware that I will continue to learn and develop my skills and techniques whilst hopefully producing even better works than the many that I have created so far. Do I have a goal to be world famous! Well I suppose it would be nice but having observed first hand the issues and intrusions into a persons life that it brings with it, I would have to build a strong support network around me to stop the interference this can bring to creativity.

When you are not working on your artwork, what other interests do you have?

Everyone no matter how driven and passionate about their art has to have a release valve. Luckily for me my wife, children and grandchildren are at hand. Recently following our move to Cornwall I have decided it’s time to keep the body active and taken to cycling around 12 miles each day down to Padstow and back before starting the day’s work. Golf was a pleasant diversion for me, but with an arthritic ankle this is presently curtailed although I do hope to get the surf board out this summer and catch a few waves on occasions.

Where can our readers find out more about your techniques or meet you in person?

Our recent move to Cornwall has disrupted my usual program of exhibitions and the loss of my own gallery from the move has also disrupted the selling side of my art work. Both aspects of exhibitions and our own gallery will be reintroduced by next year. But at present the main viewing platform for my work is our web site hoganart.co.uk. And even this as I write is being redesigned and should be re launched by the end of July.

I will be demonstrating at the Ilkley Art Fair on 14th and 15th of August plus doing several demonstrations/ workshops at local art groups around the country throughout the year.

Much of our focus during 2015 will be the continuation of our Art Holiday program (now in its 20th year) where interested participants of all artistic levels join me in Cornwall, the Lake District or Scarborough to enjoy a few days working alongside and under the tutelage of myself. All course details can be found on our web site.


About Tony Hogan

As well as painting internationally, Tony is a (now retired) degree level tutor for the Open College of the Arts, an active professional associate and demonstrator for The Society of All Artists, a demonstrator for The Art Foundation, and several art materials manufacturers including PanPastel.

He regularly travels all over the UK giving workshops and demonstrations at shows and for art groups and art societies. His depth of knowledge of techniques and materials in most mediums including acrylics, oils, watercolours, pastels and pencils provide him with the skills to help and guide others along their artistic paths.

For more information: hoganart.co.uk

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