Hector Acuna artist painting on location
Hector works primarily in oil paint but he also rotates through gouache, casein, and handmade egg tempera.

A special spotlight on someone from the plein air painting community you may not know yet: Hector Arcuna on his Aha moment, and more.

Join Hector and PleinAir Magazine in the Smokies for the 11th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo! May 20-24, 2024 we’ll have five stages with over 80 instructors, and will be painting throughout The Great Smoky Mountains, including the Biltmore Estate.

plein air painting
Hector Acuna, “Cracked a Few Good Eggs,” 2022, oil, 28 x 28 in., Private collection, plein air, Arcuna’s price range is $200-$4,500

Art education: I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point in 2015, and graduated with my Master of Fine Arts degree from Michigan State University in 2020. I was fortunate to study under great artists and mentors including Diane Canfield Bywaters, Robert Stolzer, Daniel O’Neal, Benjamin Duke, Alisa Henriquez, Robert McCann, Teresa Dunn, and Thomas Berding.

Painting style: My painting style sits somewhere between abstraction and representation. I like John Seed’s term “disrupted realism” to describe what I’m trying to do. I enjoy the tension between paint as a descriptive form of visual communication and as an object with its own physical and expressive nuances.

Hector Arcuna, "Yarn Bomb in Port," 2022, oil, 9 x 18 in., Private collection, plein air
Hector Arcuna, “Yarn Bomb in Port,” 2022, oil, 9 x 18 in., Private collection, plein air

Favorite subjects: I’m interested in painting the spaces you pass on the way to your destination. Recently, I’ve started to think more about the psychological themes between interior, exterior, and mirrored space. My drawing style has become more geometric over time, so the paintings are structured with sharp angles and edges.

Aha moment: I always learn something new when I revisit the fundamentals. In graduate school, my work developed a lot by teaching foundation courses in drawing, color and design, and sculpture. Drawing in particular helped me improve the ways I compose thumbnails and value sketches.

Over the years, my process has also been informed by content shared by artists online. Two artists who inspire my work and generously provide insight are Nicolas Uribe and James Gurney.

Hector Arcuna, "Feels Like 103," 2022, oil, 17 3/4 x 17 3/4 in., available from Pink Llama Gallery (Cedarburg, WI), plein air
Hector Arcuna, “Feels Like 103,” 2022, oil, 17 3/4 x 17 3/4 in., available from Pink Llama Gallery (Cedarburg, WI), plein air

What I would do for a living if I wasn’t an artist: I like the entrepreneurial and inquisitive spirit visual artists have. I could see myself pursuing a career in cooking or music production.

Favorite artists: My early influences included Rembrandt, Vuillard, Van Gogh, and Monet. In the studio, my work is inspired by my personal experiences of belonging and my ethnic identity, which led me toward Spanish painters like Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and Antonio López Garcia. Even when I’m painting outdoors I take inspiration from studio painters like Nicole Eisenman, Sainer, Alex Kanevsky, Euan Uglow, and Gregory Gillespie. Some of my local heroes in Wiscon-sin are Tom Uttech and John Wilde, whose work encapsulates a magical realist approach to landscape painting.

Hector Arcuna, "Corner of the Past," 2022, oil, 18 x 18 in., available from Pink Llama Gallery, plein air
Hector Arcuna, “Corner of the Past,” 2022, oil, 18 x 18 in., available from Pink Llama Gallery, plein air

The advice I wish I had received earlier in my painting career: Be an active participant in a local creative community. Having a group of supportive artists to connect with motivates and inspires my studio and plein air paintings.

Website: acunaarts.com

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