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March Mind of the Artist: Hernan Murno

March 1, 2019

We are so excited to welcome Hernán Murno to the blog as our March Artist of the Month. Thanks for sharing your art and yourself with us!

“Painting is so damn difficult.....; when you think you’ve got it, you really haven’t” Paul Cezanne 

Once, at a local art museum, I read this quote from Paul Cezanne who, by then, was already in his early sixties. I am someone who started painting not so long ago, and that statement has had a great influence in the way I approach art-making. Painting it is another way of expressing my feelings and emotions as music once was; a two- dimensional way of depicting the world as I might see it at one particular moment. But, above all, it is a never-ending learning process that, through new ideas, styles and techniques, enriches the means and ways I have to express myself through art.

Because I paint mainly for myself, sometimes I feel selfish. Nevertheless, it gives me immense pleasure when others are moved (however that might be) when they are exposed to my work. It doesn't matter if they see what I see in it or not, as long as it touches them somehow.

My background is very varied with music being my main interest and passion for many years. I do have a Doctor of Arts degree in Conducting, Theory and Composition.

I am a late bloomer; after retirement I decided to learn how to paint watercolor. I owe a lot to Susan Herron that guided me through the frustrations of learning something totally new as adult, with all the self-judgement that often leads to quitting. Watercolor was, and in many ways still is, my favorite medium, although I keep it mostly private. I need to mention teachers like Steve Fleming, with whom I still take classes today, along with Deb Ellis and Susan Abbot, all of whom are responsible, whether they like it or not, for what I do today.

Pampero, Storm River Plate
Watercolor on multimedia board
Fall in the Vienna Wood 
Acrylic skins & gold leaf on paper board

I love landscape and it can be seen in almost everything I paint. My main inspiration is nature, and even in my most abstract pieces, there’s something of it that has inspired whatever it is that I’m painting.

My watercolors have been mostly representational, although abstractions are not absent from my work either.

"I am looking at you," says the parrot
Watercolor on multimedia board
Wet Garden
Watercolor on multimedia board

Acrylic, with all its mediums and possibilities, truly grabbed me when I started taking classes with Marsha Steiger and later with Bev Ryan, both of whom have provided invaluable advice and critiques.When I begin a new piece, my approach varies depending on my mood. Sometimes I am just intuitive, and with no immediate plan in mind, I fill a canvas with paint, using all kinds of ways to do so; more often though, I have a plan, a sketch that will guide me, but not without an element of chance.My love of acrylic skins that are a recurring element in my pieces, and are, in many cases, THE entire painting, are always “chance.” I build them on a plastic board and expect the bottom layer to be the one that the viewer will see; working from foreground to background, I don’t really know how things will look like until I peel the finished skin of the board and look on the other side. It works most of the time, but there’s always something unexpected that appears that may or may not be a “happy mistake.” 

Detail showing the bottom of an acrylic film Detail showing the front of an acrylic film The finished painting
Forest Dreams, Acrylic Film

In the past few months, I have been working on two series, one very meticulously planned, based on my impressions when visiting different memorials around the world. I like to call this one my “unlike me” series because of its almost exclusive use of black, white and grays and the carefully approached design. The other loosely incorporates

Memorial Series, The Deed, The Terror, Hope, Berlin Holocaust Memorial
Acrylic, pumice gel and collage on wood board

elements of Gustav Klimt’s works, mostly his landscapes, but sometimes non-landscapes. My pieces aren’t intended to replicate Klimt. Rather, graphic and technical elements that he uses are present: in other words, his symbolism. Depending on the subject, it could be his treatment of tree trunks, his flowers, his way of depicting the ground; or it can be his extensive use of gold, the swirls he loved so much, his filigrees

By the Lake
Acrylic & metal flake on canvas
Acrylic skins, gold leaf & acrylic paint on wood

Yellow Forest
Acrylic & acrylic skins on canvas

Whether representational or totally abstract, what I paint is always based on something real, usually from the natural world I enjoy and love so much. I hope that I will be successful in exposing others to the world as I see it.

Red Forest, Klimntmania #1