Artist Interview: Hal Tench

Posted by Jenni Kirby - February 04 2021


“What makes the human eye dance across a painting? I'm looking for techniques that help me play in that sandbox.”


Former Creative Director at The Martin Agency, Hal Tench takes an exploratory approach with his paintings. Rather than record his subject matter verbatim, Hal prefers to create mystery by breaking down his subject to its fundamentals. “Seeing how something was interpreted through an artist’s eye…something magical happens there.”


When prepping for painting, Hal balances technique and intuition, beginning by dividing the plane, working with positive and negative space, and filling in the warm and cools tones. “Never approach the subject matter for exactly what it is, break it down to shapes and color, and you might make something people will like looking at.



Hal has lately been exploring the importance of mid-tones, and soft vs hard edges. “The dark and light values give us immediate answers, but mid-tones create the mystery.” Hal uses, organic forms, such as leaves or flowers as a jumping off point, allowing the forms to become empirical in their own right, and the space well constructed. “Nature will only give us clues, we have to be willing to tear things apart and reassemble on our own terms.”


New techniques are sometimes developed to achieve the desired results. Hal has been toying around with scale and process. He starts with a plein air pastel sketch, returns to his studio, and does an oil study about 12” square. The next day is spent mixing colors. “On the final day I’ll execute the finished work, trying to make it a performance, and just burn through it. Even if it is a five foot canvas, I’ll attempt to get the whole work done in under six hours.


His work can vary in subject and even style, but a willingness to make a mess, and fight your way out, is the one constant. “ I want freshness more than anything. If the painting feels like it was pulled out of the canvas, and not forced onto it, then I know I am doing something right.”