Click to Print
. . . .

Bill Hosner hosts Into Plein Air

Carina Hume - July 20th, 2006
Talkative, friendly, and a newcomer to Petoskey, artist Bill Hosner is not afraid to take chances.
A thriving illustrator turned fine artist, Hosner had the courage to pursue a new mid-life profession long before it became fashionable to do so. Nearly 13 years later, Hosner’s intensity and ability to capture scenes from life has taken him to the top, once again.
He’s one of four nationally-known artists whose work is being showcased in Crooked Tree Arts Center’s summer exhibition titled, “Before Their Eyes: en plein air.” En plein air is a French phrase meaning ‘in open air’ and describes art that has been completed on-site without the use of a photograph. “They’re paintings that are generated on location,” explains Hosner, “and to me, true plein air is completed on location.”
The exhibit also features the talent of plein air artists, Scott Christensen, Gil Dellinger and Daniel Gerhartz, all Hosner acquaintances.

Born in Detroit and raised in Mt. Clemens, Hosner reveals that, “I had talent recognized very early… but along about 8th grade I quit taking art and I didn’t take it again until I was in my early 20’s.”
Art scholarships and summer camps in Kansas weren’t incentive enough for him to continue. “There were other things in my life that were more valued to me,” says Hosner, his normally serious face revealing a smile, “football, cars and girls.”
A Wayne State University art class in his early 20’s led Hosner back to his God-given talent; he graduated with a degree in abstract expressionism and non-objective painting with a second major in drawing. But he still didn’t know what he wanted to do.
“By the time I graduated, I was married for the first time and I needed to make a living,” says Hosner. “And I really wasn’t going to be able to do that for quite some time as a fine artist.”
Paging through an illustrator annual at a Detroit-area art supply store, Hosner discovered representational art. Through some night courses at Detroit’s Center for Creative Studies (CCS – now known as the College for Creative Studies), he was on his way to a commercial art career within a year.
“There used to be studio systems (in Detroit) where you could come in as an apprentice, train as a junior illustrator, and become an illustrator, as well,” says Hosner.
He worked his way through the system and after six years became a freelance illustrator, working with magazines such as Reader’s Digest, Field and Stream, and companies such as CBS/Fox Video. One of his most memorable assignments was creating a movie poster for the 25th anniversary release of the “The Sound of Music” video.
Although successful as an illustrator, after 17 years Hosner decided to call it quits.
“When I left the commercial art business in the early ‘90s it was because it was gravitating towards computers,” he says. “Being a traditional painter, I didn’t have a lot of interest in working on a screen.”

Set on pursuing a career in fine art, Hosner focused exclusively on his new field of choice and got nowhere.
“After about a year of struggling along and trying to paint I began to discover that I needed to go back to school,” Hosner explains. “I sought out some of the best painters I could find, found out where they were teaching, and went and studied with them.”
In the mid-’90s, after two years of studying, attending workshops and going to art school, Hosner was able to strike out on his own. Illustrators Bob Kuester and his now-deceased wife, Mary Beth Schwark, introduced Hosner to plein air painting. Hosner also found a mentor in Milford artist Max Altekruse, a relationship that continues today.
In 2005, after more than a decade of painting, Hosner was inducted into the Masters Circle of the International Association of Pastel Societies and received a Best in Pastel Award at the 2005 Carmel Plein Air Competition in California. Today, Hosner teaches three or four workshops a year and finds artistic inspiration in the places he visits.

It was a two-year process bringing the plein air show, “Before Their Eyes” to Crooked Tree Arts Center, with a romantic twist. Gail Lambert, CTAC’s gallery manager and education director, who met Hosner at the Mt. Bruce Station Sheep and Wool Festival near Romeo in the late ‘90s, first brought his work to Northern Michigan. Hosner’s suggestions for this summer’s plein air exhibits led to many meetings between the two.
“As we worked on this show,” says Hosner, “it gave us an opportunity to spend time together and as we spent time together we fell in love.”
Hosner’s move north in December, 2005 was inevitable – he has two grown sons, while Lambert has two daughters still in school – and everything fell into place. A small wedding ceremony on Mackinac Island is planned this fall.
“Before I was involved with CTAC and before I met Gail, I had made the decision that I needed to leave Romeo,” says Hosner, whose family history in the southern Michigan Victorian town goes back to the Civil War. “I was traveling to places like California where there was a broader base for artistic culture and I was returning home and missing that.
“I really didn’t know where I was going,” he adds. “I was waiting for life to lead me, and actually, in a sense I was waiting for God to lead me and get a feel for where I might land.”
A re-energized Hosner spent the past several months in his new hometown creating art for the exhibit. “For the first time since I’ve been up here, I’ve felt at home as an artist,” he comments. “I did nine paintings over the last two weeks, all plein air, and most of them were within twenty minutes of this house, which is fabulous.”
Figures and landscapes remain his favorite subjects. “I’ve always loved people,” Hosner relates. “I enjoy landscapes and I enjoy still lifes now, but there’s something about the challenge of drawing people... It’s not just a matter of getting a photographic likeness. There’s a behind-the-scenes story that I’m just beginning to realize is really exciting to go after.”

To learn more about Bill Hosner go to Before Their Eyes: en plein air, along with the National Juried Plein Air Competition will be on display at Petoskey’s Crooked Tree Arts Center through Aug. 27. A free Plein Air Paintout will take place July 29 and 30 at CTAC. All artists are invited to arrive between 8-9 a.m. on July 29, get their canvas or paper stamped and be back by 6 p.m. with their plein air piece ready for hanging. All pieces will be for sale and shown in CTAC’s lower gallery through Aug. 27.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5