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Catching Light in Missouri: Photographs by Notley Hawkins

Artist Notley Hawkins paints with a camera instead of a brush.

Aperture, shutter speed, white balance, light sensitivity and pixels (resolution) are the "oils" on his artist's palette - the elements from which, when mixed correctly and applied to the chosen medium, help make the final work of art - the artistic image - a photograph.

Thirty-six of his extraordinary large-scale photographs will be featured in a new exhibition, "Catching Light in Missouri: Photographs by Notley Hawkins," opening June 15 in The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist University in Fayette. Hawkins will be present June 15 for an artist's reception in the gallery from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Photographic works from the gallery's permanent collection also will be on display.

Trained as a fine artist, Hawkins has taken those skills and incorporated them into the making of his remarkable photographs which, in realty, are artistic renditions as true to the fine arts as any works laid down by brush using oils or acrylics or watercolors. He is a Vermeer and a Cezanne of the digital world - an artist whose finely honed senses of light and visual impressionism are reflected in the complex technical aspects of his finished works.

"I bring my painting and drawing [skills] into my photography," Hawkins says, adding, "I think of each of these photographs as a work of art."

There is also a dramatic quality to his landscapes that reflects the works of famed landscape photographer Ansel Adams, whose black and white images often played dramatic elements of sky and clouds against the silhouetted shapes of the foreground landscapes or other physical images.Sacred Heart

"My goal," Hawkins adds, "is to make wonderful, powerful images. Photography is my chosen way to do this."

Signature elements of Hawkins' photography are shots from low angles - just inches above ground - and of sky and cloud formations, of buildings and other structural elements mirrored in bodies of water. His sense of composition in his different works, whether symmetrical or asymmetrical, always gives the viewer a unique perspective from which to view each photograph. "Sometimes the composition becomes almost as important as the subject itself," Hawkins explains.

A native of Columbia, Hawkins studied painting and drawing at Columbia College with noted artist Sid Larson and earned his master's degree in the fine arts at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he studied under noted artist and cartoonist Frank Stack. He also attended the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.

A growing disinterest in the traditional methods of art as represented on canvas led Hawkins to take up photography as an expressive interest about five years ago. He quickly realized this was where he felt most creative, and he became an avid photographer, mostly self-taught. His talents as a photographer soon became evident and he began exhibiting his photographs throughout the state.

Hawkins' photographs are composed from digital images and represent a wide range of subjects, including historic buildings and bridges, the general outdoors and various aspects of nature, as well as the Missouri State Fair and numerous county fairs. His works now are held in many private collections and in the permanent collection of the State Historical Society of Missouri.

"The ultimate goal is to make a great-looking photograph," Hawkins says in an artist's statement. "The process of taking pictures, finding motifs, being outdoors, experiencing nature and meeting new people is very invigorating and liberating. This is why I take photographs."

 
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