Hank Pulkowski is a watercolor artist and teacher who lives and works in Myrtle Beach, SC. After his early retirement in 2005 from a 33-year career in law enforcement in the state of Pennsylvania, Hank has been devoting most of his time to photography and watercolor painting. While he dabbled in art periodically over the past 40 years or more, he only began painting watercolors seriously in 2004, although he has been a serious photographer for over 30 years. Many of Hank’s paintings are derived from his photographs. Mostly self-taught as a watercolorist, Hank’s paintings have been juried into and appeared in numerous shows and exhibitions both in Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
When I began to paint watercolors my aim, like most new painters, was to achieve a realistic portrayal of my subjects. But I soon began to find these types of paintings boring to paint, and I have since pushed myself into new areas, and especially toward an effort to achieve a more loose style of painting.
Painting loosely is a very general term and encompasses a multitude of different aspects of painting. It does not mean just painting fast, being inaccurate, not including detail or painting carelessly. Instead, it describes a free approach to placing paint on the paper and a minimization of detail which leads to a sense of spontaneity in the finished work, and avoids unnecessary fussiness in paint handling.
I would characterize my current painting style as mostly representational, existing somewhere between the abstract and the realistic; not purely impressionistic but not at all photo-realistic. More specifically, the up-close detail of a representational painting may appear impressionistic, or even abstract, but when viewed from an appropriate distance, the painting takes on a sense of reality; that is, we can recognize the subject of the painting as an object that we understand and know.
Above all, I suppose, representational art is about the suggestion of detail, not the recording of detail. Being both a photographer and a painter, I am always conscious of the fact that the camera records, while the artist suggests. As Vincent Van Gogh said, “A work of art is a personal encounter with reality, not a copy.”