Adam Hall’s newest series of works, Upon Shoulders, takes its title from one of his favorite Isaac Newton quotes, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” A self-taught painter, Hall says that he’s gotten to where he is today by surrounding himself with, as he puts it, “artists who are way better” than he is.
But his show serves as more than a nod to fellow artists — Upon Shoulders‘ interpretation can be viewed literally as well. “I’m realizing that a lot of what I’m drawn to is this higher perspective, so I kept thinking about always having my boys on my shoulders,” says Hall. “When you have kids you have this renewed look at the world.”
There is certainly something refreshing about Hall’s landscapes, something that makes you feel as if you’re standing in a dew-shrouded field, or on the shore of an angry ocean. That is, of course, what Hall is going for. “My end goal, I have this vision in mind, all the pieces come together in one space simulating atmosphere,” he says. In Hall’s works, atmosphere is created through semi photo-realistic paintings utilizing deep blues, grays, and greens, with the occasional pop of color from a mundane object, say, a red windbreaker.
Hall speaks surely of his inspirations — of his children’s bright eyes and his colleagues’ techniques — but he wasn’t always so confident in his artistic path. “Art is definitely something I didn’t see coming,” says Hall, who dabbled in drawing and even took a few high school art classes. “Growing up as a kid art was always there, but more than art I was drawn to music. I wanted to be a recording engineer and be in a band.” So, Hall pursued music in college, and, like many aspiring musicians, moved to Nashville, Tenn. where he attended Trevecca University and graduated with a degree in music business.
Hall lived his music business life, touring with bands for a few years, creating charcoal portraits on the side. “I was super fed up with art as a hobby. I thought, ‘Man I just don’t have time for this,'” he says. Then, something really cool happened to Hall. Well, at least that’s how he puts it. It starts with tornadoes (that’s not the cool part, we promise).
“A bunch of tornadoes hit Gallatin, Tenn., and me and my buddies went and got chainsaws and put our fingers on an American Red Cross map and picked this random house to help. It just so happened to be the house of a really famous artist, David Wright,” says Hall. Wright specializes in rural country landscapes and depictions of moments in history, from the American frontier to the Civil War.
“I was sick of touring and being burned out with being with bands on the road. I wanted to switch gears creatively,” says Hall. So, while in the presence of a renowned artist, Hall decided to ask Wright for some advice. “He said, ‘Why don’t you try landscape? Go get a big canvas, and if it sucks, you can throw it away.'” Needless to say, it didn’t suck.
“As soon as I started doing landscapes I was like, ‘Oh man, this is enjoyable. I like art again.’ It was a fresh start for me. I started to look at it like, ‘How can I treat this as something that’s lucrative?'” So Hall, knowing that Nashville isn’t exactly known for its fine art, started contacting big interior design firms, “heckling them,” and bringing his paintings by their offices.
“It was within a month that I sold my first large-scale landscape and I got that first check in the mail and I was like, ‘Oh wow, this can make sense,'” he says. Shortly after that, Robert Lange Studios became one of the first galleries to represent Hall; his work first appeared in the gallery in 2009 during a show, New Artists and New Works.
“Looking back, I can’t even believe they took a chance on me,” says Hall. “They allowed me to grow within their family as an artist — that gallery pushed me creatively.”
You’ll get to see some of that growth in Upon Shoulders, which Hall lovingly calls his “B-side” (there’s that music background coming in handy). “It’s a challenge to do something wholly new. I’ve been trying to slowly take chances,” he says. He’s taking trips, too, at least in his mind. While Hall doesn’t have the opportunity to travel as much as he once did, a number of his friends are jetsetters who are happy to share their travel photos with Hall for landscape inspiration.
“Sometimes I’ll take the bottom half of a photo and in Photoshop I’ll combine two or three photos to get the feel I want, from places that are all over the world,” says Hall, who paints his around-the-globe landscapes from both photos and color studies. And he wants to take you on these trips, too. “I want to create works so people can come in and connect with that atmosphere — and feel a sense of wonder and adventure.”