Artist Tate Hamilton Gets Real

by Jay Kerner
I’ve been following the brilliant art career of Tate Hamilton for over 6 decades now. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1955, I was first impressed with his early works, mostly Hollywood monsters in crayon and ballpoint pen. We were kids. He was (and is) my first cousin. But, both sets of parents dumped us at our grandparents’ often enough that our early childhoods were linked like brothers, roaming the northside from their home on St. Joe Avenue.

Paintings created by Tate Hamilton

Two years older, he was my hero and the coolest person I knew. I was crushed when their family moved, first to Stanberry, Missouri, for a couple of years, then finally to Denver, Colorado, where he’s been ever since. After that, our time together has always been one or the other’s vacation. They came this way every other summer or so, and we visited out there repeatedly.

Jump forward maybe twenty years, and Tate tells me he’s taking art lessons (another twenty-some years, and he still is). He showed me some paintings he was doing of ancient “Cliff Dwellings” on pieces of flagstone. He and his lovely wife, Sammie, were selling them at local art shows, and business was good. I thought it was a cool hobby, but he just kept selling those rocks! Before long, he phased out of his other business and painted full-time. He was accepted in some of the finest art shows around the country and was still selling, but he grew tired of painting the same subjects over and over. Still taking classes, he slowly transformed into an impressionist. He was good at that, too. Somewhere in there, he used their love of travel to scout imagery, taking photos of random urban compositions around the world that would later come alive when rendered in oil on canvas, people going about their business.

I don’t know how many rainy New York and Paris street scenes he sold over a couple of decades, but it was a bunch. He did very well for quite a long time, and he and his wife developed a close network of friends from the art show circuit. They are seasoned pros at set up and break down, and their booth looks like a gallery.
But the artist never rests and never stops learning and growing. So now, Tate has expanded his work to much more of a photo-realism style. That’s a good description of it. Just look at his recent work at tate-hamilton.pixels.com to see the scope of what he’s doing now. As they travel the country, returning year after year to their favorite shows, he has numerous collectors of his work who add new pieces each time through.

He does commissions, too. And I love this story; apparently, he’d done an anonymous interior bar scene piece out west somewhere. He does a lot of those and had this one in his booth, a couple thousand miles from the location, when a guy walks up and says, “Hey, that’s my bar!” He bought it, obviously, and now they’re talking about having Tate do all his others around the country. Rich folks are different than you and me.

As a long-time fan (there are very few who are longer), it’s been such a treat to watch the evolution of his work. It was always good, but if you look at it over time, you can see how he has grown and progressed, tackling harder and harder techniques. I see him taking on light and pigment, skin tone and fabric folds, shadows, and all the tiny details that separate the masters of the craft from the talented amateurs. Supply and demand have priced his original paintings beyond a lot of folks’ budgets at this point. Still, he’s partnered with a company that markets his images as prints on his website and on all sorts of merchandise, too.

The Regular Joe typically interviews artists and attempts to let them explain their work and processes. In this case, I didn’t even let him know about it. He would probably want to tell you all about the wonderful teachers who continue to inspire him. He’d go on and on about his wife, a talented jewelry artist herself, who runs the booth and takes care of business. But this is my take on it. I wanted to share with readers how proud of him I am. He’s living life on exactly his own terms, creating works of art that people treasure. And he’s still the coolest person I know.

You can find his work at tate-hamilton.pixels.com/

I have been painting for many years and enjoy painting in a “painterly” style. To create my style I use the general “painterly” philosophy, large shapes which begin with my darkest darks and whittle them down into smaller lighter shapes. I generally only use a #12 brush and get big thick brushstrokes. I only use 5 colors on my palette: Cad yellow,Cad red,Alizarin Crimson,Ultramarine blue and Sap green. These 5 have painted everything you will see on this website. I can paint just about any subject and prefer painting cityscapes. Painting to me is about having fun and challenging myself, using the basic visual elements. Email me with questions,comments or if you wish to purchase one of my paintings.

Tate Hamilton

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