Born in 1946 in Aurora, Illinois, Hettinger began drawing around the age of 8. His subjects were T.V. and movie cowboys. At age 13 he was given a set of oil paints by Mike Spencer, a local artist who ran the barber shop across from St. Joe’s School where Hettinger was a student.
Formal art training began at the American Academy of Art in Chicago under Joseph vanden Brouck. Under Mr. Van, as he was called, Hettinger learned classical realism and the techniques of the Flemish, Dutch and Spanish Masters.
After four years at the academy, Hettinger moved to New York City where he studied with David Leffel and Richard Schmid. During his two years in Leffel’s studio he painted still-life’s and figures, always working from live models. He learned the importance of working from life from Schmid and Leffel and to this day attends life drawing sketch groups twice a week to keep his drawing skills fine tuned. Since beginning his career as a professional artist he has had 21 one-man shows in galleries across the country. He is a master signature member of Oil Painter of America. He has won awards for his landscapes, still-life’s, and figurative paintings. His work has been reviewed in American Artist Magazine 1993, The Artist Magazine 2003 and International Artist 2004. OPA Gold Medal Award, 2010.
Forty years of drawing and painting from life have enabled Hettinger to work up concepts for paintings based on past experiences and life’s observations. He often begins a painting without models or references, pulling a scene from a past memory. Models are hired for figurative paintings only after a concept is drawn out on canvas. Hettinger doesn’t think of his figurative pieces as portraits or paintings of people but rather of relationships and moments in time. A child asking a question of an adult can inspire a painting. The idea of a peaceful summer afternoon being interrupted by a child wanting to do something or wanting to go somewhere brings a smile to Hettinger. That smile inspires a painting that will bring Hettinger into a world of possibilities. He ponders the relationship between the child and the adult and the question the adult seems to have trouble answering. Bringing these concepts to life on a canvas are Hettinger’s enjoyable challenges. Working up a design for the painting and working up colors for clothing and background are little puzzles to work out. Textures of subject matter and the painting surface are more challenges he accepts.
Every painting for Hettinger is a present experience in which he is reliving a past experience. Even his still-life’s hold personal memories for him. His mother was a gardener who loved to save plants from the summer by bringing them into the house over the winter. Window sills were filled with potted plants. Now his paintings are of those potted plants sitting on the window sill with a landscape out the window.
My thing is painting and drawing, it’s all I do. Drawing the human figure is my passion. Not sure how old I was when first began to draw, I give different ages when asked the question of how old was I when I began to draw. I know I was quite young and I know my interest in drawing people was also something I got interested in at a very early age. Drawing cowboys from the TV was a start, then people in the neighborhood became an interest for me. These days I hire models to draw from and I attend three sketch groups each week. The human figure is still my main interest and getting to know the people I draw has become part of the process. In order for me to truly capture a figure I need to know the person I am drawing. The sessions in sketch groups are an introductory way for me to meet models. Models I find interesting physically and personality wise I hire to work privately in my studio. In my studio I engage my models in conversations to learn more about them. The first several sessions will be spent doing drawings of them and learning about their lives outside modeling. When I truly know a model and am comfortable with them I will use them for one of my paintings. My paintings are memories of my childhood and family and of scenes I’ve seen that Inspireme. I spend a lot of time observing people in parks, gardening, fishing, caring for kids, all the things people do in their daily lives. Sketching these scenes is how I record them and hiring models is how I create the art I love doing, which is painting the daily live I see around me. “ In the Corner Of The Garden “ which you have, was a scene from a Family get together. I recreated that scene of two of my cousin’s daughters off by themselves talking and resting after an afternoon of badminton and hiking. I hired two of my favorite models and set them up in a park and sketched them in charcoal and in oils.
Once I have my concept down on canvas I concentrate on getting the figures to interact in some way. Then I introduce the idea of paint surface to my painting process. Brush work and how the surface of the finish work of art looks is very important to me. A painting will take anywhere from a month to a year, that is from the seed of the concept to completion. The actual painting time can be a week to three weeks, but the entire process from the first idea of the concept to signing the finished painting is months long. The painting “ In The Corner of The Garden” won the award of excellence for Master Signature Members 2009“Art of The West Magazine “ award. The last article I was feathered in was in the April 2004 issue of International Artist.
Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine
Southwest Art Magazine
International Artist Magazine
The Artist’s Magazine
New Mexico Magazine
Focus Santa Fe
U.S. Art Reviewed
MEMBER of Oil Painters of America
Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine
Southwest Art Magazine
The Artist’s Magazone
Painting from Imagination