Herman L. Peace Jr.

Artist Information

Herman L. Peace Jr.

Butch Peace (Her­man Peace, Jr.) knew as a small boy in the hill coun­try of Texas that he was des­tined to be an artist. His par­ents, both school­teach­ers, would “do any­thing for a kid” espe­cial­ly if it involved edu­ca­tion, so they exposed him to art­work. As a child, though, he was over­whelmed by the work he saw – not real­iz­ing that cre­at­ing art is in part a learn-able skill.

He put art­work on the back burn­er for years, and pur­sued a dif­fer­ent career. At the age of 35 he was a heli­copter pilot, fer­ry­ing oil work­ers to off­shore rigs. Once on the rig he had time on his hands, and one day picked up a book from the oil rig cof­fee table: The Nat­ur­al Way to Draw. He read that you have to make 10,000 mis­takes, see them, rec­og­nize them, and cor­rect them, in order to order to learn. And for the first time it all made sense.

From that point on, he start­ed tak­ing week-long work­shops. “Then I was gain­ing alti­tude,” he says. Thanks to his fly­ing career he was able to save up some mon­ey, and decid­ed it was time to pur­sue art more inten­sive­ly. He con­tact­ed the Art Stu­dents’ League and asked where to study. He also want­ed to learn to speak French„ so was hop­ing for an oppor­tu­ni­ty to study there. The League told him there was a man who’d taught there for 27 years, and who was a very strict teacher, but that he’d just move to France. So Butch quit his job and moved to France. He believed: “If you’re going to do it, get the hard­est sit­u­a­tion you can and with­in a month or so you’ll know whether it’s a wast or not.”

Butch stud­ied with Ted Jacobs for four years, and stayed in France an addi­tion­al year, teach­ing at Les Ate­liers Sans Fron­tieres. He then set up a stu­dio in Dal­las, Texas for a while before set­tling in Wilmington.

Butch cred­its his rig­or­ous train­ing with Jacobs as hav­ing pre­pared him to move on to any paint­ing he wish­es to do. He spent a lot of time study­ing the Old Mas­ters, such as Reubens and Van Dyke. There are dead sol­id immutable rules. These guys knew the rules. “Now, no mat­ter what paint­ing prob­lem he’s try­ing to solve, he’s got the men­tal tool box to solve it. If he’s not find­ing a solu­tion, it’s because, he’s “joust­ing with his own per­son­al drag­ons,” not con­cen­trat­ing as hard as he should. The real­is­tic works he knows how to paint are not nec­es­sar­i­ly the end point, but he thinks every­one should learn all the can about real­is­tic paint­ing before the go find their own paint­ing voice.

When he is not paint­ing, Butch likes to cre­ate mez­zot­ints. He learned to make prints dur­ing a sum­mer in France; he lat­er used his “George W. rebate check” to buy him­self a lit­tle press, Print­mak­ing gives him a break from paint­ing, and he can work on cop­per plates at home in the evening. And since he can make mul­ti­ple prints from one plate, he can sell the result­ing mez­zotint pieces at an afford­able price. He also likes work­ing with machines.

Describ­ing what he con­sid­ers great art, Butch referred to a Tit­ian paint­ing, “the one of the old man with his grand-daugh­ter, shield­ing the can­dle flame, and you can see his hand illu­mi­nat­ed like we would today with a flash­light; that’s great; that’s a tech­nique thing. But what you also real­ize is that grand­fa­thers 300 years ago felt about grand-daugh­ters the same way I feel about mine. That’s what a paint­ing should be.”

Artis­tic tal­ent makes itself known in some of least like­ly places. In this case, it was the Sau­di Ara­bi­an desert, right after one of those many for­lorn wars over there, when I first encoun­tered the amaz­ing art of Her­man Peace (known in that way Tex­ans have, sim­ply as Butch). They were paint­ings of such raw, and stun­ning tal­ent that you could only won­der what he doing as a heli­copter pilot in the Per­sian Gulf. That was a life­time or two ago, and since then I have had a ring­side seat to all that tal­ent wrestling itself free from what­ev­er has been thrown in its way. It sim­ply will not be kept down. Butch has clam­ored aboard the art world express, fueled with a healthy sense of what tru­ly mat­ters in life and in art. With stops in France and var­i­ous ate­liers across Amer­i­ca, he has sur­veyed the world with a wry eye, turn­ing out works of visu­al art that nev­er cease to please, chal­lenge and amaze. And, I am blessed to have sev­er­al of them in my home in Cal­i­for­nia. I look for­ward to see­ing what comes next.

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