From life as a musician, playing guitar in rock bands from the late ’60s to early ’80s, to working as a serial entrepreneur, it wasn’t until Tate Hamilton sold 10 of his paintings at an art show in the ’90s that he realized what began as a hobby could be turned into a serious career. The Denver-based painter, who uses just five colors in his palette, mostly sells his work at top festivals across the country and at tate-hamilton.artitstwebsites.com.
DLM: When did you first take an interest in painting?
TH: I was at a fair and there was this guy painting. My parents were very impressed with how he worked … so (they) asked him to paint a couple paintings for them. I think I was probably 6 years old. As I was watching him paint, I was like, “Wow, this is really cool.” I don’t know what it was that came over me. I think it was just something that I really liked.
DLM: Where do you find your inspiration?
TH: I go to New York City and Paris, France as often as I can and I take thousands of photographs. I try to compose the scene that I want in the camera and I just take pictures. I have 28,000 photos that I have taken. I will go through those and I will look at them and think, “Hey this will make a nice painting.” A lot of people say my paintings remind them of Edward Hopper.
DLM: Does it take you very long to complete a painting?
TH: I can do a 36 by 48 in about six hours. I paint alla prima—that is wet on wet. If I start a painting I finish it in one sitting.
DLM: Can you describe your method?
TH: I do try to think about going outside the box all the time. I think as an artist, a lot of us tend to paint inside a very strict box where we do a lot of detail and sometimes we even paint things that aren’t actually there but we think are there. I paint very loose. I always paint the darkest shapes first, very thin. As I get lighter in color I start cutting out the darker shapes. As I get a little lighter in color I get a little thicker with the paint. It’s something you have to make yourself do (painting outside the box). You have to stop yourself from going too far.