Ben Hartley, from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, was the Second Place Winner of the $600 Scholarship Award in the 2008 Fine Art Finals Midwest Regional Scholarship Competition with his 38"x48" oil painting Life Will Go On pictured above. Ben was kind to take part in a brief interview. Here is what he said:
Fine Art Finals: Why do you create art?
Ben Hartley: I create art because I was first created. I greatly desire to see beauty, to be about beauty, to give to beauty. I think that's what creating is about.
Fine Art Finals: What are you trying to say with your art?
Ben Hartley: Gosh, I'm trying to say a lot of things, I guess it depends on what series of work your asking about. The piece that you have selected is about the simple fact that no matter what problem we may face, None are to great to bring to God. Simply put, that life will go on.
Fine Art Finals: How long have you been creating art?
Ben Hartley: Creating art? I guess since I was in 5th grade or so. But as far as my focus in Oil Paint in particular, I started my Junior year of High School. About 6 years ago.
Fine Art Finals: Are your family and friends supportive in your decision to pursue art?
Ben Hartley: Oh yes! It has been an awesome part of the whole experience. Not once have I been discouraged in my efforts to produce work. I have only been encouraged to do more.
Fine Art Finals: What is your area of concentration in art (commercial art, fine art, art history, etc) and why?
Ben Hartley: I'm a fine artist. Its where I have found my niche, and have been happy stay there.
Fine Art Finals: What is your major?
Ben Hartley: 2-D media with a specialization in Oil Painting.
Fine Art Finals: Why did you choose the specific art program you chose at your school?
Ben Hartley: 2-D media quickly became the media that I was best able to express and effectively communicate what I needed to. It just made sense..
Fine Art Finals: What was the deciding factor in choosing the school you are attending?
Ben Hartley: Cost, proximity to home (near by), and some key professors that taught there.
Fine Art Finals: What is your favorite medium(s) to work in and why?
Ben Hartley: Oil Paint by far. I am able to move the paint around just I image in it in my head. IO have a good window of time to work with the material before it dries up on me. There is also something nice about the great history that comes with Oil Painting.
Fine Art Finals: What is your philosophy and work ethic in creating your art?
Ben Hartley: I don't know if I have a direct philosophy, but I know that making paintings takes a lot of time. I will work till it gets done. My last body of work had me painting 6-10 hours a day...for 3 months. And I just literally carried the paintings into the gallery, while one was still wet.
Fine Art Finals: Who is your favorite artist(s) and why?
Ben Hartley: That's a tough question, but I think overall, William Adolf Bouguereau. His care and ability to portray human flash is something I aspire to someday match.
Fine Art Finals: What artist most influences your work and why?
Ben Hartley: Dennis Wojtkiewicz. He is my professor, but has a similar mentality that I greatly respect. His ability to see and understand color has moved my work to a place I never guessed to be at.
Fine Art Finals: Do you have any other interests beyond art; what are they and do these interests influence your art?
Ben Hartley: My relationship with Jesus. I guess it sounds cheesy but it has greatly influenced my work. Beyond that, My love for people. I mean I am a figure painter, and I couldn't imagine painting anything as much as I do when painting People
Fine Art Finals: Is there a specific career path you wish to follow utilizing your artistic talents, and if so, what is your plan for utilizing your artistic skills in the future?
Ben Hartley: I would honestly love to just make paintings, and sell them. I'm going to try the whole gallery scene and see how that goes. I also would greatly enjoy to teach at a college level. Once I graduate, I'm going to take a year or two off, before heading off to grad school to get my masters.
Fine Art Finals: How do (did) you support yourself financially while attending college?
Ben Hartley: Well I take out loans. But I have not had to put myself in a whole lot of debt. I have received multiple scholarships for my talent, and grades. I work a summer job to help offset things during the school year. And I do sell much of my work which has been wonderful.
Fine Art Finals: Have you received any other financial assistance (Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, etc) to pursue your education?
Ben Hartley: Yes: Alvord-Little Fine Arts Scholarship; Incoming Talent Scholarship; Freshman Art Scholarship; Sophomore Art Scholarship; Junior Art Scholarship.
Fine Art Finals: How did you hear about Fine Art Finals Scholarship Competitions?
Ben Hartley: My professor. He posted information about it for our class.
Fine Art Finals: How has winning or placing in Fine Art Finals Scholarship Competitions helped you?
Ben Hartley: Making work is not cheap by any means, that stacked on top of attending college with all the bills that living also brings. It has helped to allow me to pour into my work the materials it deserves. I am now better able to not only purchase the paints that I was needing, but also continue to put my work out there. To submit my work to juried shows, magazines, etc.
Fine Art Finals: Has any opportunities presented themselves as a result of winning or placing in Fine Art Finals Scholarship Competitions?
Ben Hartley: Not that I know of just yet. But I certainly wouldn't be surprised. In other circumstances when placing in competitions similar to this, it has accounted for many sales of my work.
Fine Art Finals: What advice would you give other student artists?
Ben Hartley: Make work that you enjoy. I feel like in academic settings, especially Undergraduate degrees, its all about an assignment, or what “Art” should look like. But if you have not already experienced it yet, if you don't make work that you are excited to pour 40 hours a week into, your soul, and your work will deaden; and that sucks.
Fine Art Finals: Thank you Ben. Congratulations again, and we wish you continued success!