Painter and Illustrator: Glen Hesse

VOAF 2022 Artist: Glenn Hesse

Glenn Hesse is a low-income artist with a disability active in the DTES community as an organizer showcasing his paintings at the 6th Annual Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival at the Roundhouse from October 14-16. 

In 2012, Glenn joined a local DTES art group and took up painting as a hobby. In 2018, he took art classes at Emily Carr University and completed his Painting, Fine Arts, and Illustration certificate programs. During that time, Glenn received art grants from the DTES Small Arts Grant and participated in the Emerge Festival as a recipient of the program.

Click here for more information about the artist. 

How do you think your artwork connects to “outsider arts”?

I believe my artwork connects to outsiders arts since I create paintings that are different and which illustrate social and contemporary realism from my point of view. 

What type of barriers do you face to creating artwork?

Being on disability is a very large barrier, especially with health problems. I have recently moved from a SRO which was large enough to paint with 3 easels to a new micro apartment which is difficult to even paint with one easel, especially if the canvas is 4 feet in length or height. Being low income makes even finding an art studio space to rent out of reach.

How can CACV help reduce these barriers and support advancement in your creative practice?

The festival has been a great help, especially how to interact with the general public as well as get feedback or questions from them.

Where did you get the inspiration for the artwork you are exhibiting? Who are your influences and what other artists inspire you?

During my courses at Emily Carr University, I really enjoyed the Art History class and the various periods of the art movements. I had the opportunity a few years back to see the French Impressionists at the Vancouver Art Gallery as well as going to the Audain Art Museum and see the complete works of Emily Carr. Besides both the Italian and Northern Renaissance artists, I also enjoy the local Vancouver artist Jeff Wilson, especially his paintings of the DTES of Vancouver.

Give a brief description of your creative process.

For my creative process, I usually start off with sketches and ideas for a series of paintings. Then I start by researching my topic and looking for visual images for reference, as well as photograph models to pose for specific images, so I can narrow down the details that I need to scale my works. After I have the items, I go into photoshop and create various image sizes to determine the canvas size I am going to use as well as make a few various images to see which one stands out. After that, I draw the image on the canvas and start painting.

What do you get up to when you’re not creating artwork?

When I am not painting, I am actively involved with 2 organizations in the DTES, which helps keep me active and distracts me from my health issues. Being in the DTES of Vancouver allows me to study and take in ideas for some of my paintings as well as some of the most interesting individuals who live and work on the street.

What is your favourite local cultural or art institution?

My favourite art institution is Emily Carr University. Over the last 3 1/2 I have completed 3 continuing studies certificates, which includes Painting, Illustration and Fine Arts certificates. During this time, it has helped me in more ways on understanding art in general but improving my skills as an artist illustrator.

What are your goals in participating in the festival? Do you have any plans for after the festival or ways you hope the festival will help your practice?

The main goal is to meet the general public and network with other artists and learn from their experiences with other shows or find out where to sell and exhibit my art.

What do you hope people take away from viewing your artwork at the festival? Do you want them to feel a specific emotion or come away with new ideas?

I hope people take away from viewing my work, a chance to be drawn into the painting as well the creativity and inspiration, specifically since most of the topic matter is from the DTES of Vancouver, and not what is constantly happening just on Hastings. I am also introducing a new series, Points of Solitude which is my 2 new pieces, and looking forward to hearing their comments as well as seeing their expressions.