Tore is one of the few artists who contacted me first. We connected through social media, I saw his work http://torehogstvedt.info/ and the rest is history. This pullout quote from our chat really tells his story …
“Through my art, I want every person, every nation to experience the beauty and the importance of nature. Nature creates awareness and spiritual development! Nature has a universal and unifying message for all mankind.”
MICHAEL: Hey Tore, Your work is gorgeous. Many people take nature landscape painting for granted because the genre has been around for so long. Do you paint plein air? What inspires you about this genre?
TORE: Yes, I do sometimes paint plein air. It gives such a kick to be in nature and catch light, atmosphere and the true colors. The smell and sounds from nature bring me up to a higher awareness. The energy flows through my brain and body. Where we’re living, we’re surrounded by wonderful landscapes. Big lakes and big and untouched forests. It’s a protected area and full of different birds and wild animals. I’m in love with our four seasons in Norway. I grew up in the wilderness. I can’t ever live in a city. The colors in nature are so different and brilliant. But I do take my own photographs from the spot I suppose to paint. I then continue working on a bigger canvas in my art studio. I have a good memory about how the colors appear in nature. Great painters who inspire me are the19th century impressionists like Monet, Sisley, Pissarro and Levitan. They used pure colors, no grays or blacks. Me too. I stick to the "rainbow pallet" to make my paintings glow and vibrate. What inspires me about this genre? Through my art, I focus only on the nature of Mother Earth, to help increasing our consciousness level. My contribution is to help and support humanity through The Great Shift. Oneness with nature will be of great importance to humanity. Through my art, I want every person and every nation to experience the beauty and the importance of nature. Nature creates awareness and spiritual development! Nature has a universal and unifying message for all mankind. My message and my responsibility through my art, is to protect and preserve the environment for our future generations.
MICHAEL: That's great. Were you going to be become a priest? What happened? Do you now think art is a calling?
TORE: Yes, I was going to become a priest. There were many circumstances in my private life, like my divorce and many others who kept me from it. But I think my growing understanding about religion was the main reason that I left the church. And in the mid 90`s my talent for art was reborn again. Today, I’m a free man, no connections to a church or to any belief system. I just want to contribute with my art. I’ve a new message for our world. Yes, it’s a new calling.
MICHAEL: I'm surprised to hear that because there's a close connection between art and religion or art and spirituality. Where do you think your talent comes from? Is it a gift?
TORE: You’re right Michael, there’s a close connection. I believe God is the creator of all things. Basically I believe we’re all spiritual beings with different talents. We all come from the same source and through that source anything is possible, anything can happen. When I paint, I feel very connected to God and especially when I spend time in nature. I often go out in nature to meditate. And very often when I’m working on a canvas, suddenly I have no explanation how I finished the painting or how I mixed those colors. It just happened. Therefore, I’m always grateful to God when I finally finish a painting. I’m never alone in my studio. Someone more divine than me is giving me a helping hand.
MICHAEL: What have you learned about nature and creation through your painting that you might not have known otherwise?
TORE: A difficult question to answer Michael, but I’ll try my best. During my constant search for perfection of light and colors in my paintings, I have achieved more understanding and knowledge about how the colors are put together in a perfect harmony. In a painting, I can "hear" or sense the tones of colors like a musician and when I start to mix the first colors for a painting, I know exactly which colors I need to create balance and harmony. In nature, there is always a perfect combination of colors. Everything is in a perfect balance. I ask myself, "How can I make the perfect artwork of nature?" I can’t. Nature is too perfect. It’s impossible to make that master piece. In the painting process, I learn more and more about how nature itself is far ahead in terms of perfection.
MICHAEL: Tell me about Norway and contemporary art. How do Norwegians view art? Do they buy art? Do most Norwegians appreciate art and artists? Most Americans don't.
TORE: First a funny story. If you Google "Contemporary Art in Norway" or "Artists of Norway" under pictures, you’ll see on the first page one of my paintings. Norwegian art came into its own in the 19th century, especially with the early landscape painters. Until that time, the art scene in Norway had been dominated by imports from Germany and Holland and by the influence of Danish rule, initially with landscapes. When Dresden lost its significance as the spiritual centre of Germany during the 1830s, the Norwegian artists following J. C. Dahl found their new centre in Düsseldorf. This generation, ‘The Düsseldorfers,’ made painting accessible to the Norwegian public and their work became known in Norwegian tradition as “National Romanticism.” Our National Museum of Art has a huge collection of Romanticism. Perhaps Norway's most famous artist is Edvard Munch, (1863–1944), a symbolist/expressionist painter who became world famous for The Scream which is said to represent the anxiety of modern man. Painted in 1893, The Scream is Munch's most famous work and one of the most recognizable paintings in all art. The population of Norway is about five million and there are 20,000 artists registered. In our galleries, you’ll generally find modern or abstract art. Realism and especially Impressionism are very absent. Painters like myself, really need to stick out from the rest to get some recognition and sales. Generally, I think there’s a good market for art in Norway. Lucky for me, I have many collectors and buyers. There had been a slight increase in art sales for 2011 compared with the previous year. Looking at the development of the Norwegian art market in a longer perspective, it may indicate a bottom level was reached in 2009 and that the market is in an upward trend. The increase in gross, nominal turnover for 2011 was 4.4% compared with 2010. Contemporary art in Norway over the last 30 years, some might argue, has been priced too high to begin with. The combination of high prices and a large volume is a difficult challenge for those who will engage in the secondary market. It is clear the crisis still affects the market. When there are difficult times for financial markets, the art market is also down. But we still have many private collectors. There is a broad base that will have their own artwork. It's a completely different culture for gatherers in Sweden than in Norway, where owners buy U.S. artists and build major art museums. The large, heavy Norwegian buyers have become more international and they buy and sell internationally. The whole market has become more international. We are a rich nation where art buying and collecting art does not have a long tradition among the population. We see therefore that there is excess liquidity that finds its way to the art market. When things are going well on the stock market and many are making money and often a little fast, so it goes well for the art market.
MICHAEL: What about the internet?
TORE: That’s a new trend in Norway. The concept of online art galleries is like a blessing for passionate art lovers who do not find time for their passion. One just has to go online, look at the artworks exhibited there and then choose the ones that they want to purchase. It is a very simple process and takes just a second. Thus, online galleries act as a savior of time and more and more people are opting for them, leaving behind the trend of visiting art galleries. Online art galleries are an emerging trend across the world.
MICHAEL: Your work looks like it would also work very well if you went abstract. What do you think?
TORE: I can never go fully abstract. My spirit is very connected to Mother Earth and nature. But figurative and realistic art often contains partial abstraction. You’ll see abstraction in some of my water reflections. Sometimes nature itself gives us total abstraction and bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable.
MICHAEL: I guess that since you paint nature scenes, most of your work is done during the day? What's your painting routine? Do you listen to music or watch TV while painting? Where do you usually work?
TORE: Yes, most of my work is done during daytime. In my art studio, I get a lot of natural lightning from big skylights. When the weather conditions are good, I create smaller paintings out of doors. My small studies are always painted “alla prima.” Using this technique, you complete entire paintings in one session or two without waiting for the paint layers to dry completely. Sometimes I can get home with two completed paintings. Making a landscape out of doors, allows close observation of nature's light and colors. It demands both speed and memory to capture fleeting moments. The Impressionist movement made extensive use of this oil painting technique and is responsible for much of its popularity. Monet did not finish paintings in one session. In fact, many of the canvases were so large he had to hire an assistant to haul them in and out. He said that he brought many canvases outdoors and worked on each one for a short time at the same time of day over several days. Most of his canvases were finished in his studio. So I’m different than him. First of all, I never start on a white canvas. I start with light ochre to cover the canvas. Using a colored ground does a number of fantastic things that are not to be underestimated. In the summer, I allow myself to go out in nature from 5 am in the morning. The summer is my most productive time of the year. During our very dark winters, I often spend my time inside my studio, using photographs and 12 x 50W spotlights. I don’t paint out of doors in cold weather. I use memory and good photographs taken from skiing in the nature. Norwegians loves winter landscapes and I’m often sold out quickly. My night landscapes are done through my memory, no photographs taken. I love to take a walk outside when there’s full moon. It often ends in new painting to start with. My routine is to spend four days a week just painting. I often work on five or six canvases at the same time. I also do some soft pastel drawings and lithographs. In my studio, I always listen to classical music when I work. It’s very inspiring. The music helps me get in the right mood. In nature, I get my emotions on high gear in just a few seconds.
MICHAEL: Finally Tore, if your work could talk, what would it say and where do you want to go with it in the future?
TORE: I believe in nature. It’s sad that so many of us are separated from nature in our daily lives. It’s the foundation of our existence. We need to spend much more time with our beautiful landscapes. Nature creates a sense of belonging, unity, harmony, balance and peace. Nature gives us a good, uplifted feeling of purity and freedom. Nature gives hope for ALL mankind. Therefore, we have to be grateful when our Earth is changing. My art focuses only on nature to help increasing our consciousness level on this planet. Creating awareness about how to get oneness with nature will be of the greatest importance. The oneness will give us knowledge and make us more loving and aware, so we can be good to each other. Secondly, it’s my responsibility to keep on protecting and preserving the environment for our future generations. I want as many as possible to go out in nature to experience and feel the sacred light and colors. Even the sounds of nature strengthen our spiritual level. Through my art, I want every person, every nation to experience the beauty and the importance of nature. Nature creates awareness and spiritual development! Nature has a universal and unifying message for all mankind. Hopefully, I see myself painting these landscapes for another 50 years! This will bring me a closer understanding of nature.
MICHAEL: Thanks Tore. This has been great.
TORE: Thanks Michael, It has been an honor to be part of this.
Check out Tore’s work at http://torehogstvedt.info/