Inspiration hits Tim Hunter in the most unlikely places. In the middle of a steel yard. At a recycling plant. Even in a seemingly sterile warehouse. In these places, he finds shapes, textures and patterns in the man-made, then adds warmth and life by animating the subjects with his creative compositions and techniques.
A resident of scenic Leipers Fork, TN, Hunter’s artistic niche is industrial abstraction: a blend of techniques including painting, metalwork, digital studio, and printmaking. Capturing surprising beauty in industrial subjects, Hunter creates digital compositions as thumbnail concepts for larger works that are painted and/or printed onto canvas, and mounted on metal frames that become part of the final composition becoming a combination of painting and sculpture.
"I’m inspired to take drab, cold subjects that people rarely notice and make them come alive," Hunter explains. "When I see a composition in day-to-day life, when I see interesting shapes and colors and their potential, that makes me want to grab my camera or a paintbrush."
Relating to artists like Dali, Picasso and Paul Klee, Hunter’s abstractions offer viewers several layers of meaning and interpretation, with subtle hints of the originally object rewarding the keenly observant. "But I don’t necessarily consider myself creative," Hunter corrects, " ... rather ‘re-creative. ’ "
Currently working on a series of industrial abstractions, Hunter's inspiration for naming pieces in this latest series comes from Ayn Rand's classic novel, Atlas Shrugged.
Last fall, he won first place in a juried show at the Mexico Beach Art and Wine Festival, now in its sixth year at Mexico Beach, Florida. Attending the festival every year with his wife and fellow artist, Laurie, Hunter also displays his work on timhunterart.com, artaroundhere.com and throughout private collections. Some of his paintings can be seen at the Factory in Franklin, as well as in private collections and in galleries.
Hunter began painting in oil at a very young age, encouraged by private art teachers and his own creative drive. "I always enjoyed doing creative things," Hunter admits, "writing poetry, songs and lyrics, painting on rocks, building things in my dad’s shop."
When Hunter was 12 years old, he received a Kodak disc camera for Christmas from his parents. "I began setting up still lifes," Hunter fondly remembers, "and anxiously waiting for my film to be developed." His artistic eye carried over into other mediums as well, and he quickly went on to win school competitions in sculpting and painting.
"I later worked in a photo lab," Hunter recalls, "and in the school photography and art departments. I also had a job working in a professional artist’s studio, learning firsthand skills like how to prepare and stretch canvases. That was invaluable."
Upon college graduation, Hunter pursued writing and followed a career path in manufacturing that lead him to work often with commercial photographers. "My work requires me to travel to industrial settings," says Hunter. "Objects that were beyond the hired photographers’ cameras are what caught my attention. They just kept presenting themselves to me. I felt compelled to take my digital camera on every road trip. I didn’t want to miss these amazing shots."
When Hunter stumbles upon industrial subjects that have moving depth and contrast, he photographs the subjects, paying careful attention to capture the right angle and composition. "Then I spend weeks just studying the photos," Hunter explains. "It’s really a process ... that can’t be rushed or forced. Then correlations between the subject and nature inspire Hunter to take the photo to the next level and give it life. The finished art itself dictates the final medium.
"I’m also looking into burning and staining the images onto metal plates," Hunter shares. Always expanding his artistic path, Hunter most recently acquired a lathe. "My next project," Hunter admits, "is learning how to use it." With Hunter’s uncanny knack for mastering any medium he samples and his plan to learn from friends in the local art community, it won’t take long.