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Spotlight - Lance Hunter

Lance Hunter has exhibited his paintings in Europe and in many major cities in the United States
including New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle and Philadelphia. His work has been published in International Artist and American Art Collector magazines. A watercolor of his daughter
is featured on the title pages of the book Splash 8: Watercolor Discoveries, a popular anthology of
contemporary watercolors published by Northlight Books. In 2010, Hunter won awards in Watercolor USA and in NWWS, another national watercolor exhibition in Seattle. His work was also exhibited with the Oil Painters of America National Exhibition and his work was selected for the National Watercolor Society Exhibition in California.
 
In addition to his studio work, Hunter has completed more than twenty large scale murals in five states. In 2009 a compilation of Lance's murals were featured in Mural Art 2: Murals on Huge Public Surfaces Around the World, a hardback book on international murals published in Germany. His five murals in downtown Lufkin, Texas received the President’s Award from the Texas Downtown Association in 2001.  
 
Lance was born in Port Arthur, Texas. His parents, Jim and Rosa Hunter moved to Bridge City when
he was two years old.  He graduated Magna Cum Laude from BCHS in 1979. Hunter received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Lamar University. While at Lamar, he worked for University Publications as an editorial cartoonist and later as the editor of Cardinal Magazine. Following graduation, he worked in graphic design and advertising before enrolling in graduate school. He received a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. Currently, Hunter is an Associate Professor of Art at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. He lives with his wife, Greek Cypriot artist Sylvia Nitti and their two children, Brooke and Chase.

Lance recently took some time to speak with us.

1. What were the early days in BC like for you. Any fond memories of your time at BCHS?

For the most part, I enjoyed my years at BCHS. I took art classes all four years as my
electives. Mrs. Dowden was very supportive and encouraging. I remember she loaned me her camera to shoot reference photos at Bailey’s on Sabine Lake. This was way before digital cameras and a 35mm was relatively expensive. She also took our class on a field trip to the Stark Museum in Orange my senior year. It was my first visit to an art museum and in retrospect it was very influential. I really appreciate her support and that of many of the teachers at BCHS.
 
In high school, I had much more time and energy focused on football than art.  I think the football team experience helped shape my early perceptions of people, competition, endurance, and goal setting. I have many good memories of the coaches and teammates. Coach Bratton was an awesome guy. I was fond of his personality on and off the field. The ligaments in my right knee were torn during a game my senior year. Looking back, I think that injury and the increased awareness of fate it brought helped influence my decision to become an art major.

2. When did your talent for art begin to show?

I remember sitting on the floor with a coloring book in the first grade. I realized then, that
I could create a drawing that looked very much like the cartoon in the coloring book. I was fortunate to have a lot of encouragement early on. My parents and grandparents were always supportive and many teachers were, too. I remember Mrs. Burns at Hatton Elementary as being especially encouraging to a shy third grader.

3. You are also a journalist. Do you still pursue that?

I worked with the publications at Lamar for several years but I never really considered myself a journalist. I think the only actual writing I did was a story about a trip to the Bahamas that I made with an ad agency I was working for. My focus was on the editorial cartoons for the newspaper and graphic design and illustration for the magazine. I held editorial positions with the magazine but that involved the direction of content and layout. During graduate school, I worked one summer for a large newspaper on the east coast but that was in their advertising design department.
 

4. What is a typical day for you?

I wear several different hats so I actually have three different “typical” days professionally. I usually teach at least two full days a week at NSU. On those days I teach oil painting in the morning and figure drawing in the afternoon. Each class consists of about twenty students.
 
On a studio day, I get up in the morning and then paint until lunch time. My studio is located upstairs at the rear of my home. It is far enough from the main living spaces to be very quiet with a separate entrance for clients and models. After lunch, my time is spent painting and working with PR, shipping, or other business details.
 
The mural projects are usually completed during the summer months. The murals often involve
traveling with four to six weeks spent living in hotels. I usually go to work very early in the
morning to try to avoid some of the summer heat. I usually have one to three assistants on the
mural projects. I am very fortunate to have married my best assistant. Sylvia, is an accomplished artist and she has worked extensively on many of the mural projects.

5. Encouragement for any aspiring artists....?

Draw and learn the basics of design and technique. Listen to informed advice but do not lose sight of your own vision. It is a very competitive field, be prepared to work and to be patient. Do not see your small town roots as a liability but rather as a potential asset when combined with education, travel and work.
 
I cannot recall all the times that I was told that I needed to think about getting a "real" job while I was working my way through college. In 2002, I took a cab to the opening reception of the American Watercolor Society's International Exhibition on Broadway in New York City. The exhibit is a competitive showcase of the top watercolors in the country and that year it included my painting of a young, black woman entitled "Rayna". Riding in that cab, I had a flashback to the early days in BCHS art classes and how utterly impossible it would have seemed for me to be there. I hope that might be a little encouraging for an aspiring artist sitting in a seat at BCHS today.

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