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Bill Hibberd | My Tribe

Bill Hibberd is a full-time oil painter working out ofhis Summerland studio. As an active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, he regularly shows in their juried exhibitions and has achieved "Best of Show", "Honourable Mention", and "People's Choice" awards. Bill's art was featured on the cover of the 2010 Art Avenue Magazine and Therapy Vineyards New Artist Series wine label.

Bill writes:

              "As a child I would draw on anything that was available. It was a big event to salvage the packaging from my dad’s new shirts to draw on a clean white surface. Through my adolescence and early twenties I drew for pleasure. My first venture into painting was encouraged by Margorie Croil , an excellent local artist. I was admiring some of her work in her home one day and she suggested I take a free correspondence course through the University of BC. That initiated several years of exploration through books and workshops. I completed one year of Fine Arts at Okanagan College which was hugely stimulating and cemented my resolve to become a painter.

Marriage and children took precedence over any full-time artistic ambitions but every chance I had to liberate a block of time to work in I would paint. In our first year together my wife Joanna and I lived at Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, BC. We lived beside a large native burial site bristling with totem poles. I rented and modified a space in a net loft over the ocean and painted daily. Aboriginal stylization obviously influenced that period of my development. My most influential teachers have been the Group of Seven, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Joaquín Sorolla and contemporary masters like Lucien Freud and so many others. I’ve learned much from studying their work.  I have transitioned into a full time painter over the past three years and look forward to every day painting in my studio or en plein-air.”

My Tribe is the culmination of a one-year portrait project that was completed in June 2012. Over the preceding year Bill tasked himself with painting one hundred 16 x 20 portraits from life, asking each of the participants to sit for one portrait session. Each portrait was usually completed over a period of 6-8 hours. In all his work, Bill makes every attempt to connect with whatever subject he is interested in and intends to fashion some kind of a visual poem. He believes that art is not merely a simple documentary, but rather each painting should incorporate enough ambiguity to allow for various interpretations and experiences by the viewer. His opinion is that the artist’s role is not to exhaust every detail in his/her work, reducing a piece to a single homogenous conclusion but to provide a bridge to many different places. The challenge for Bill is to allow for this vagueness while respecting the hard won principles of design and composition from the masters of the past. In his work he is constantly striving to become a better painter while exploring and expressing beauty, hope and discovery.

In addition to the physical works, Bill documented the journey in his blog and writing and reflecting upon this creative process heoffers a few reflections and insights into his creative process…

“One side effect I'm experiencing is performance anxiety or more plainly, pre-portrait nausea. Even though I couldn't ask for more empathetic sitters I still experience feelings of insecurity. I expect this will pass after I've been through it for a while. I sure hope so. Anyway, each portrait is getting more interesting than the last so this will be a time of some real experimentation and growth. ”

“Ultimately I want the piece to carry the strength that considered and expressive visible brushwork achieves. Too much rendering of detail denies mystery and poetry. I'm choosing to put more energy into the design of each painting. I will be disciplined in time management and stay within my arbitrary guidelines for the sake of the series.”

“I have completed 27 portraits to date and am enjoying this project immensely. While some are more successful than others if you are aiming for likeness, and I am, they all have an element of the subjects unique personality that sings out to me at least, and hopefully for others. Time will tell that story.”

“I'm rounding the half-way point in my portrait project now. My objective has been to learn about painting people in the process of working through 100 portraits in a year. I've imposed on myself parameters in order to keep the pieces consistent and the trajectory even. Like any endeavor, the more you work at it the faster you become. The temptation, for myself, is to pull out ever smaller tools and pursue detail.”