Inside the Studio

Tim Hallinan

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
I’m drawn to the endless geometry, structure, and sometimes lack of order of the urban environment, and I think that’s where my ideas begin. I’ve studied landscape architecture and urban design, both of which seek to create order where there is chaos. I look at my painting in the same way. With a little sense of where I want to end up, I start to apply and scrape away paint to and from the canvas or wood board until something concrete materializes that I can build upon.

This holds true when creating mixed media pieces as well. When I use paper as a material it is less about the actual words and more about the visual impact text or the texture of torn paper can have on a painting. I use it much the same way I would paint. I’ll often apply a torn page from a magazine or book to a piece I’m working on with the intention of tearing or scratching it off. The result is always unexpected and random. I work with what remains until that small section of the painting becomes part of a larger, cohesive idea. I look for some sort of structure in something muddled and messy. It’s often initially very vague, but eventually a solid idea develops and starts to appear on the surface.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
This wasn’t given to me personally, but it’s something I heard or possibly read; I can’t remember where. It has stuck with me though, and that is, “you can’t think your way out of a painting… you can only paint your way there.” Most of my paintings, through the process of adding and scraping away paint, veer off in many different directions. There are times when I’m working through a painting and I’m only happy with ten percent of what is on the canvas. I try to work off of that and expand on that idea.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I’m a huge music fan, so I definitely prefer to work with music. According to my iPod, Broken Social Scene, New Order, Sparklehorse, Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, David Bowie, and some old school Bossa Nova are at the top of my “Most Often Played” playlist.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
Ocean Park Series #79 by Richard Diebenkorn.

Who are your favorite writers?
Edward Abby, Philip K. Dick, Paul Auster, and Douglas Adams.