KEN C. HAMILTON'S versatility in watercolor defines his artistry although he has also worked widely in other mediums. “I think it’s just something about the way the pigment interacts on paper that you can’t achieve in any other medium. Informal, yet easily identifiable, it can depict the subject while remaining elusive. I am fascinated with the relationship of portraying the likeness and spirit of the subject while still allowing for the paints’ ability to take on a life of its own.”
Growing up in Spokane, Washington, Ken spent many an hour looking over his father’s shoulder, an accomplished artist who had received a number of commissions. Ken’s talent for drawing was apparent at an early age, being offered his first commission at age 12 when a friend paid him forty cents to paint the sea battle, Monitor and the Merrimac. The friend’s mother was surprised that he would actually charge her son for the painting!
In another area almost invisible to the field of illustration and a world unto itself, Ken further augmented his profession by doing a considerable amount of comp and storyboard artwork for advertising agencies. Here he was able to take some freedom experimenting with drawing and rendering approaches depending on the product. He was sought after by art directors at many of the major advertising agencies on a wide range of accounts.
Halfway into his career, Ken yearned for more self-expression and pursued his fine art enrolling in classes at the School of Visual Arts. He also studied figurative and portrait painting through the keen eye of contemporary realist Daniel Schwartz in private classes at his studio. Since the late 90’s, he has followed his passion for painting both in the studio and often on location.
Ken’s landscape painting expresses an affinity for subjects offering serenity and a meditative aspect near water and themes of forgotten lifestyles. Among his favorite areas are Cape Cod and along the Delaware River. The art itself can be viewed more as a beautiful product of a greater journey of one's growth through seeing, interpreting and experiencing the world.
Currently residing in West Orange, New Jersey, Ken Hamilton is an active member of the Art Centre of New Jersey, Signature Member of the Hudson Valley Art Association and former President of the New Jersey Water Color Society. His work has appeared widely in juried exhibitions, winning numerous awards, including the Thomas Moran Memorial Award from the Salmagundi Club; and the Silver Medal of Honor from the New Jersey Water Color Society. Among the artists featured in the publication, 100 Mid-Atlantic Artists by author, Ashley Rooney, as a Signature of the National Watercolor Society, he was selected among thirty artists for their 2012 Traveling Show to Tour the USA for 12 months. By special invitation to exhibit internationally for the second time, he most recently has shown at the 2014 - 2015 Qingdao Watercolor International Exhibition in China. He was honored to have the Qingdao Art Museum purchase a painting for their permanent collection.
With Ken’s ardent interest in observing people, he developed the habit of carrying a sketch book everywhere he went, drawing on the spot. This proved invaluable to his work. He also continued to paint from a model on a regular basis. His painterly style lent itself to editorial realism, which was better suited for hard cover rather than mass market. As more detail was expected Ken felt that some spontaneity was lost. He was offered work with a number of publishers and other clients appearing many times in the Society of Illustrators National Exhibition.
Following high school, Ken first attended Spokane Falls College and received a three year Professional Art Diploma. It was there where he heard the guest speaker Dick Brown, a prolific artist/illustrator, who made a lasting impression and motivated him to seek further studies. Ken then made the move to Seattle and enrolled in The New School of Visual Concepts where Dick Brown was Director. As he delved more deeply into his studies, Ken recognized increased confidence develop as he learned to draw more spontaneously and the enthusiasm derived from learning to interpret and emphasize strong figurative gesture. It became more than just accurate drawing. Taught by practicing professionals, the energetic and creative environment, in addition, provided a sense of family as he was also invited into their homes.
Encouraged by his instructors, in 1978, Ken moved to New York as a freelance illustrator. His classes arranged a going away party for him before setting off, a day that would be among his most heartfelt occasions.
ABOUT THE ARTIST