We are thrilled to present "White Noise," a solo exhibition by Adam Hall, whose evocative paintings invite viewers to find solace and sanctuary in the beauty of nature. This body of work encapsulates the chaos of modern life while celebrating the peace and tranquility that nature provides. The Pacific Northwest's moody atmospheres and the artist's exploration of the unknown collide to create a captivating experience. Through this exclusive Q&A with Hall, we uncover the inspirations and artistic process behind these captivating pieces.
Adam Hall in the studio
Can you tell us about your early life and what initially drew you to painting? Were there particular influences or experiences that sparked your interest in art?
Both Art and Music were forms of escapism for me as a young teenager. There were some rough patches in my childhood that created a lot of negative inner dialogue, which was easily silenced by drawing and playing the piano. My older sister was very much into art and introduced me to Van Gogh’s work when I was around 13 years old. Eventually, I signed up for an art class in school and found a lot of encouragement from the art teacher and also connected well with some of the more advanced students. Really, I was just obsessed with anything creative in my younger years and would find myself devouring artistic films and art books. I remember watching “Great Expectations” in 1998 and telling myself I was going to become a painter like the character “Finn”. It wasn’t until my college years that I started experimenting with oil painting.
How has your style and approach to painting evolved since you first started? Are there artists or movements that have inspired or shaped your work?
My initial breakthrough in connecting with people and finding homes for my paintings occurred with a series of minimalistic abstract landscape artworks. At that time, I lacked formal training and had no knowledge of translating my visions onto canvas. Somehow, I persisted through years of trial and error, gradually refining my technique and incorporating elements of realism to juxtapose the vague sense of place people were accustomed to seeing.
My goal evolved into finding a delicate balance between realism and expressionism in my art. Observing painters like Gerhard Richter, who transitioned from more photorealistic works to complete abstraction, provided so much inspiration for my artistic journey. I'm still seeking new roads to go down and pushing boundaries in hopes of discovering something new and exciting.
Can you describe the relationship between your graphic design background and your current artistic practice? How has one informed the other?
Rick Rubin once said in an interview that “A big part of an artists success is having great discernment” and I really believe that’s true. Graphic Design had so much to do with discernment and having a really strong eye for good design. All those years of curating designs and building up a strong sense of composition spills over into how I choose what to paint. Even down to the palette I choose is influenced by all my years of graphic design.
What does your typical day look like when you're in the creative process? Do you have specific routines or rituals that help you get into the flow?
Having 3 kids forces me into a steady daily routine. I've structured my week like a full time job, but I will switch things up quite a bit to get me out of my comfort zone. My mornings can be chaotic with getting kids up and ready for school so by the time I get to my studio I have to zen out for a minute. There are usually around 4 paintings I'm working on at any given time in my studio and I always ease into the creative process by getting a nice playlist of music going.
Outside of art, what are some hobbies or activities that you enjoy? How do these interests intersect with or inform your art?
Playing music and writing has always been a hobby of mine and feels very similar to the process of art. Most of my other activities are related to anything outdoors and usually involve my kids. We love going rock climbing or finding new hiking trails around us. All of these things are so good for me and put me in a good head space to become a more present artist.
You mention that becoming a father has influenced your work. Can you expand on how this personal change has manifested in your art?
This is a topic I could write a book on. haha. Parenthood is a full spectrum of emotions all at the same time. It's incredibly hard and stressful while at the same time incredibly beautiful and selfless. In some ways it's broadened my imagination by un-fogging my adult lenses. Seeing the world through the eyes of my kids and just playing on their level reminds me to strive for pure creativity. It's taught me a higher level of discipline and in return improved my overall output.
You describe the theme of this exhibition as finding solace in nature amidst the chaos of modern life. Can you elaborate on the specific aspects of nature that you find particularly comforting or inspiring?
Many scientific studies have shown a strong connection with spending time in nature to mental health benefits like lower levels of stress etc.. Sometimes I think that immersing ourselves into nature almost taps into some genetic memory from our ancestors. Whether I’m out hiking, or in the ocean, it feels like a digital detox. I’m not looking at my phone or thinking about business, but I’m dialed into my surroundings. There is an aspect of being in nature that reminds me of my childhood which sort of grounds me and is refreshing. Exploring the landscape always yields a return of inspiration that overflows into my art practice.
The Pacific Northwest and Tennessee are both diverse landscapes. How do these regions
influence your work, and can we see these influences in the pieces displayed in 'White Noise'?
You can't get more moody and atmospheric than the Pacific Northwest shoreline. I mean come on, that is where my favorite 80's film "The Goonies" was filmed. Over the years, I've gained so much inspiration from the PNW oceans and dense forests. "White Noise" will not have any TN inspired works in the exhibit, but all the ocean work is 100% PNW inspired. One of the paintings in this show is actually influenced by the Colorado Red Rocks backdrop.
How does this body of work, featured in the exhibition 'White Noise', differ from or build upon your previous collections?
One of my best friends is a singer songwriter in Nashville and we've talked a lot about the process of making an album. There are so many parallels in that process to creating an art exhibition. A musician might write 100 songs that gets narrowed down to 12 on the final record, leaving a library of songs to revisit someday. I love doing solo exhibits because it forces me to create a group of ideas that work together and present a theme. During that process it ignites new ideas and future ones as well. "White Noise" presents some concepts that I've never attempted before and also piggy backs off of previous paintings I'm still passionate about exploring.
Could you highlight one painting from 'White Noise' that particularly embodies the theme of the exhibition and tell us a bit about the process and inspiration behind this piece?
My last painting for the show is titled "Embrace the Silence" which portrays a jacketed figure standing out in the elements facing an incoming rain storm. The whole scene for me represents this sort of analog bliss and moment of deep thought. There is a misty mountain side in the distance that seems enticing to go explore and adds a sense of wonder to the piece.
Your goal is to transport the viewer into a moment in time. Could you give an example of such a moment from any of the paintings in this exhibition?
The title painting ("White Noise") for the show stands 72"x60" tall. That scale combined with the dark water I'm hoping draws the viewer into a moment of facing the unknown. It sort of represents facing seasons of change and seeing the light on the other side. Standing on the shore at night and gazing out into the dark abyss is such a scary mysterious vibe. In some strange way it is also very peaceful standing there listening to the sounds of the waves and seeing all the little reflections of light. I built the painting with very purposeful layers to contrast darkness and light. Fun fact about this painting: I perfected the neon under tones and dark areas in VR before applying to actual canvas.
In your statement, you mention that your paintings are like direct doorways into nature. Can you describe the process of creating these "doorways" in your artwork?
I've always loved the scene in Narnia when the ocean painting comes to life and transports the characters to another world. Exploring work with a larger scale and a specific perspective to achieve that "doorway" feeling is so satisfying. Most of my work is created from the perspective of standing directly in front of a scene, or as if you were coming up for air floating in the water.
Your paintings are known for their immersive quality, drawing the viewer into the scene. How do you achieve this effect in your work, and what do you hope the viewer experiences when they engage with your art?
Immersion has always been a goal of mine because it sort of facilitates that connection we all want the viewer to experience. It's part of the reason why I keep the viewer in my paintings anonymous, as to not distract from the feeling of transporting yourself to a specific place. There are times when a painting lands perfectly and I feel I've achieved that immersive quality, and of course, there are just as many times where it falls flat. So, there is a mystery to the craft that I can't quite put my finger on. Sometimes a painting idea or session feels like a gift the universe is handing me and I'm just the medium putting out it into the world. Of course, there are also the technical things that do play a part. Learning more about perspective/composition and then really dialing in on my choice of color palette helps guide me. In my opinion, one of the things that makes a great artist is becoming a good curator of images/ideas. Coming from a graphic design background I've learned that having a strong eye for composition and concept is huge.
You've had experiences touring the world with various bands, including time spent in Rwanda. How have these travels and experiences influenced your approach to painting and the themes you explore?
Years ago, I had the insane privilege of traveling the world doing road managing for bands and later working with non profit organizations. These were two extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum that opened my eyes to other cultures. All of those experiences burned themselves into me and changed me forever. The duality of those experiences def leaks out into my work to this day. Actually, my time spent in Africa/Haiti is what inspired me to paint my first ever landscape painting. That painting was the first one I ever sold and led me down the path of discovering my passion for landscape art.
What are some challenges you've faced in your artistic journey, and how have you overcome them? Are there particular pieces or periods in your career that have been turning points?
Challenges and difficulty are necessary to learn and become better at your craft. I've learned a lot about myself through the hard times and the moments of wanting to give up on this dream. There are too many challenges to list, but I've had my share of financial struggles, imposter syndrome, exhibition failures, and a constant nagging fear of failure. Surrounding myself with a strong community and having an incredible spouse was a big factor in me not giving up. Finding the time to learn from other artists and refine my skill set were extremely helpful.
Developing my ocean series and adding in the figure to my work was a big turning point for me.
How do you balance the artistic integrity of your work with the commercial aspects of being a professional artist?
Being mostly a landscape artist I've been fortunate to always find avenues for the paintings without any big artistic compromise. Commercial opportunities can be great as long as your partnering with the right company or brand and they are in line with your goals. When I transitioned into a full time artist it did become quite difficult to carve out time for pushing boundaries and creating completely new work. The current work everyone is used to tends to pay the bills so it's tempting to stay complacent and avoid new ideas. This is something I'm currently struggling with.
And finally, having been represented in galleries all over the United States and featured widely, how do you feel presenting your first solo exhibition at Abend Gallery?
Could not be more excited and grateful for the opportunity to partner which such a great group of people at Abend Gallery. It's been seamless to work with them on this exhibit and they are amazing at giving complete artistic freedom to their artists. Abend Gallery represents so many artist that I admire and so I feel honored to show along side of them.
A glimpse of Adam Hall in the studio, diligently crafting the exhibition's namesake piece, White Noise.
The themes of 'White Noise' resonate deeply in our contemporary world, where the chaos of daily life often overshadows the peace found in nature. Adam Hall's mastery in capturing this duality not only challenges us to reflect on our own connections to the natural world but inspires a profound appreciation for its beauty.
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this interview belong solely to the artist, and do not necessarily reflect the views of our gallery. We do not endorse any person, brand, or service mentioned in the article.