George Van Hook
“I want the color to be beautiful and the drawing firm and secure. The experience of seeing is the most important part of the process. My aim is to translate that experience onto the canvas. My eyes are so much better at that than the lens of the camera. I feel a kinship and continuity with the entire flow of Western painting since the Renaissance. Having a sense of the larger flow and importance of Western art makes it easier to remain unaffected by the vagaries of quickly passing art fads. Collectors tell me they like my passion for painting. I am visually interacting with the objective world, but I go beyond that to bring my own sense of passion and commitment to the work. I paint everyday and hope to do so until the end.” - George Van Hook
George Van Hook’s paintings have been exhibited for over 40 years throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. Van Hook’s painterly style follows in the tradition of the impressionists. Inspired by a love of nature fostered by long hours painting “en plein air,” Van Hook paints with gusto and passion, bringing a freshness and immediacy to the rural scenes where he lives in upstate New York. His marine paintings of coastal harbors and Connecticut shorelines shimmer with the warm light that only a master’s touch can create. His fly fishing paintings painted on location on well-known trout streams are sought after in this country.
Van Hook grew up in the Philadelphia area where he spent a great deal of time studying the masters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and immersing himself in the Bucks County Impressionist and the Brandywine art traditions from the early 20th century. The family owned a farm in Bucks County, home of the Pennsylvania impressionists, and George also has a close association with coastal Maine. He has spent many summers painting in Rockland and Rockport Harbor, and on North Haven Island where his wife’s family owned property adjacent to the famous Boston artist Frank Benson.
Van Hook was educated at Oberlin College in Ohio, and later received his Bachelor of Arts at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California in 1977. While in California, Van Hook was drawn to the works of the late 19th and early 20th century California Impressionists and won over a dozen awards and prizes. This interest naturally led him to Europe where he studied painting in Italy and France, absorbing the works of the old masters from his daily visits to the Louvre. Upon his return to the U.S., George quickly established his reputation as an award winning artist, garnering Outstanding Young Man of America Award in 1983, and becoming a Finalist in Portraiture for The Artist’s Magazine Annual Art Competition in 1999. In 2000, he was awarded the Grand Award at the Grand Exhibition in Akron, Ohio.
Also a noted figurative artist, George’s paintings hark back to the works of William Merritt Chase and were the subject of an article “Painting Figures in Interiors and Landscapes” in American Artist magazine, written by M. Stephen Doherty in December, 2001. Like Chase, Van Hook paints people engaged in an outdoor activity or pensively posed in a sunlit interior. Doherty writes, “George Van Hook has updated that theme with depictions of young women in garden settings who seem lost in thought or amused by children at play; or outfitted men casting their lines in a trout stream. His paintings display the Impressionist interest in color, light, and rich paint, yet the figures and settings are decidedly contemporary.”
His work has been exhibited widely in the United States including exhibitions at Grants Pass Museum of Art in Oregon, The American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, The Italian Museum of Fly Fishing, and the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vermont, where he has a solo show May 25- July 14, in 2019. In France his work has been shown at Atelier des peintures de l’abbaye and Le Mairie. In Japan, Van Hook had a solo exhibition of over 70 paintings at Gallery Enatsu in Hiroshima. For the last ten years, Van Hook has been involved in Plein Air competitions, and has won numerous awards.
2012 Plein Air Vermont, Bennington, VT, Second Place, Artists’ Choice
Saranac Lake, NY Plein Air, First Cash Prize
2013 Finger Lakes, NY Plein Air, Canandaigua, NY, Best of Show, First Place Quick Draw
Billsboro Plein Air, Geneva, NY, Best of Show
Saranac Lake, NY Plein Air, Best of Show
2014 Finger Lakes Plein Air, Cananadaigua, NY, First Place Quick Draw, Peoples’ Choice
Ocean Park Plein Air, Ocean Park, ME, Best of Show
Bennington, VT, Plein Air Vermont, Best of Show
Seneca Lake, NY Plein Air, First Place Quick Draw, Peoples’ Choice
2015 Van Hook was invited by Plein Air magazine to be a live instructor, Plein Air National Convention, Monterey, CA
2016 Cape Air Plein Air, Second Place, Quick Draw
Lighthouse Plein Air, Grand Prize
Adirondack Plein Air Harvest Festival, First Place
Mountain Oyster Club, Tucson, AZ, President's Choice for Excellence
2017 Wet Paint, Tamworth, NH, First Prize Overall and Quick Draw
2018 Lighthouse Plein Air, Tequesta, FL, Honorable Mention
Wet Paint Tamworth, Tamworth, NH Best in Show
Finger Lakes Plein Air, Canandaigua, NY Honorable Mention
Bath County Plein Air, Warm Springs, VA Best Water
Cape Ann Plein Air, Rockport, MA Spirit of Cape Ann Award
Ticonderoga Plein Air, Ticonderoga, NY Best in Show
2019 Lighthouse Plein Air, Tequesta, FL Best Figurative
Finger Lakes Plein Air, Canandaigua, NY Honorable Mention
Rockport Art Association and Museum National Juried Exhibition Rockport, MA. First Place, Alden Bryan Medal
Wayne Plein Air, Wayne, PA Plein Air Magazine Award
Southern Vermont Art Center National Juried Exhibition, Manchester, VT. Second Place
2020 American Impressionist Society National Juried Exhibition, St. George, UT Gamblin Artist’s Award
Bryan Memorial Gallery, Land and Light, Water and Air Juried Exhibition, Jeffersonville, VT Grand Prize, Alden Memorial Medal
Saranac Lake Plein Air, Saranac, NY Second Place
Liliedahl Productions and Plein Air Magazine released a 90 minute instructional film, "How to Paint Impressionism Outdoors" by George Van Hook.