The beauty that artist Pat Hinton sees in the landscapes of Franklin County is sometimes so great that she has to pull off the road.
She whips out her camera and photographs the scenes, which she later renders in media from encaustics to acrylics.
Hinton, who lives in Louisburg, tends toward a representational style with few details. She said she finds a kind of poetry in the abstract shapes, an emotional resonance that she hopes to convey to her viewers.
As she works on her landscapes, Hinton said she rediscovers the beauty and mystery of the scenes she was drawn to initially.
“In a way when you’re painting, you’re seeing it with new eyes,” she said.
Viewers will be able to encounter Hinton’s take on the area’s landscapes beginning this week at the Sunflower Studio & Gallery at 214 East Jones Ave. in Wake Forest during her first solo show. An opening reception is from 5-9 p.m. Sept. 13, during the town’s monthly Art After Hours event.
Hinton has been preparing for the show for a year, but her artistic journey started long ago as a young girl growing up in northwest New Jersey.
She loved spending time in the woods and fishing with her father, and she always was drawing, everything from horses in a field to her classmates.
After graduating from high school, she went backpacking through Europe, visiting the Louvre and other museums. But it was the Van Gogh Museum that made the biggest impression on Hinton.
When she got home, she painted a portrait of her cousin’s dog, complete with colors swirling around his head. Her cousin was unimpressed, but Hinton knew she had discovered something important about where she fit in the art world.
She headed to art school, where she delved into ceramics, and she ultimately earned a degree in ceramics and textiles. She worked making earthenware pottery, then turned to a career in illustration after she moved to the area with her husband
After several years working as freelance illustrator – and never knowing just how much work would come in or how much creative freedom she would have – Hinton became a librarian more than 20 years ago. She now works at the Cecil W. Robbins Library at Louisburg College.
“I love it, but I feel like I’m always leading a double life,” she said.
In 2009, Hinton started taking art classes again and then began painting landscapes. When Sunflower asked her about a show, Hinton decided to do it as a way to set a goal for herself. And it’s been worth it.
Hinton said preparing for the show has helped her to worry less about the outcome of a piece and to enjoy the process more. She’s also been inspired to simplify the details of her paintings even more in her future work.
“It’s been quite a journey,” she said. “It’s got me excited about doing more.”