Scott Hiestand’s paintings of the Florida landscape may seem serene at first glance, but they represent a decidedly wild terrain.
“Glades,” by Scott Hiestand, acrylic, 20 x 36 in. This piece won First Place in the PleinAir Salon’s June/July contest.
Hiestand says he is drawn to the bands of color in the open areas of glades — fields or marshy areas outlined or sparsely dotted with trees. “The vast open space of it all, where the sky hits the horizon and there’s a tremendous amount of space — you can’t see this anywhere else but South Florida,” he says. “I’m just fascinated; I’m in awe of it.” This acrylic painter recognizes that a scene with such bands has to have a rich sense of atmosphere to it. He uses very thin washes to push and pull layers in the picture plane, applying two or three washes, adding a bit of detail, and then applying more washes. “I will push colors around in the background and then as the eye comes forward, pull out more detail,” says the artist. “That’s the way my eye sees it. Details pull in the eye and then you see bands of color as you look out in the background.”
“Strickland Creek,” by Scott Hiestand, 2012, acrylic, 11 x 14 in. Private collection
“White Trees,” by Scott Hiestand, 2012, acrylic, 6 x 8 in. Private collection
His paintings of Florida glades are restful, but his painting sessions are not: Wildlife abounds in the Sunshine State. “I live in an area that has a lot of dangerous wildlife,” says Hiestand. “I’ve never been bit, but I’ve seen a lot of them. You have to be cautious.”
His primary concern is snakes, but much bigger reptiles may visit as well. “I’m always aware of what’s going on around me,” says the artist. “Sometimes that can take away from your concentration on the painting. If you think you are the only one in the area, you are probably kidding yourself. You never know when a snake can be at the base of your easel. Or a car surprises you by coming along, and the people step out and talk to you about what you’re doing, which is always nice.”
“Water Edge,” by Scott Hiestand, 2012, acrylic, 6 x 8 in. Private collection
“Spruce Creek,” by Scott Hiestand, 2012, acrylic, 9 x 12 in. Private collection
“Redtail,” by Scott Hiestand, 2006, mixed medium, 8 x 12 x 27 in. tall. Private collection
Hiestand loves it all and says he feels fortunate to live in an area with a lot of “critters.” Whenever possible, the artist includes an animal in his paintings.
The artist estimates that 90 percent of his paintings are completed in the field, but he will occasionally add an additional wash or place accurate details on a bird in the studio. He also spends time in the studio sculpting animals out of wire, covering much of the armature with cloth to which he applies hardeners, gesso, and paint. He leaves some of the wire armature visible. “I do all this work with the wire, I’m for sure not going to cover all that up,” he laughs. “I like playing around with the positive and negative space.” Hiestand also feels it is important to make the heads of animals detailed and finished, then leave part of the body rough and open, because when we look at animals, we naturally focus on their heads.
“Rainbow Trio,” by Scott Hiestand, 2008, mixed medium, 25 x 12 x 17 in. tall. Collection the artist
“Table Top,” by Scott Hiestand, 1999, acrylic, 11 x14 in. Collection the artist. Studio painting
Not surprisingly, Hiestand feels strongly about conservation, and he does what he can to preserve the landscape and protect the wildlife he so dearly loves. His devotion to nature in Florida is evident in his work.