NORTH CONWAY — As the coronavirus crisis ratcheted up, wildlife artist Grant Hacking reached out to his stuck-at-home fans and invited them to watch him work.
On March 24, the 55-year-old sent an e-mail to his extensive list of clients, fans and friends about his intent to send them “…some ‘progression’ images rather than the usual framed painting.”
“I thought some of you may find the steps that I use to paint interesting,” he said of six small canvases he had stretched and then sketched on.
“The first step is to just get them started ... procrastination is a killer. I never really know what scene the animals will be in,” Hacking wrote.
Born and raised in South Africa, the painter said the settings are “mostly from my imagination.”
A child of two artists and the single father of two girls, Hacking first came to the U.S. in 1990 on a vacation that also included an exhibition of his work in Virginia. The painter of wildlife, figurative work, architecture, coastal scenes and landscapes recalled that the exhibition went “really well.”
Hacking has lived in North Conway since 2000. He paints at his home and has a workshop nearby where he builds frames. His “progression” included images of a family of cheetahs, a hippopotamus at a watering hole and a cheetah waiting to pounce.
“It was kind of interesting watching the paintings develop,” Hacking said. “They all progressed nicely and all were very different.”
He finished the last painting on March 31, writing in an e-mail and on his Facebook page that “ ... your enthusiasm has spurred me on to work hard and enjoy painting during these trying times.”
He said he would be interested in doing another such series. His youngest daughter, Shauna, who attends Kennett High School, did a short video clip of the first set of paintings and it was well-received, he said.
He acknowledged that showing works in progress is something he normally does not do.
“The one thing I’ve learned over the years is they (the paintings) are going to look really bad before they look really good,” Hacking said. “It’s a weird kind of thing. Right at the end, they just seem to kind of come together.”