I am Ethan Hoekstra, and I appreciate the opportunity to tell my story in this month’s Arvada Lifestyle Magazine!
I am a Native Coloradan, am 31 years old, and have been painting for about twelve years. I have always enjoyed pushing the envelope with new styles and new surfaces to paint on. I also enjoy teaching, which I started doing as a paint and sip instructor, and subsequently developed a desire for one-on-one sessions as well as fun workshops.
When I start a painting, there is little that comes to mind on what the final product will be. I tend to uncover the possibilities in the midst of painting. I begin with a color that suits the sky; I either make the sky busy with gradients of colors, along with clouds, or I make it a single bold color.
Then I move along to the land masses that are far in the distance, clouding them oftentimes in the same hue as the sky, then add mountains, large trees or even flat plains in the foreground. I love creating distance and depth.
The motive behind all of my landscape paintings is to immerse the viewer into a happy setting that brings peace and joyfulness. This is achieved by adding interesting compositions using rocks, trees, rivers, lakes and even animals. These things are always so common in a landscape painting, but it’s the positioning that delivers the intended and desired feel. Complemented by the mood of the color, I end up composing something more serendipitous than intentional.
I have always believed that God has guided the creative process when it comes to my landscape paintings because so often I get feedback that describes the Fruit of the Spirit.
I often hear something like there is a feeling of love, joy, peace, it has a kindness to it, the colors are gentle, it has symbolism of faithfulness, or what a work of patience.
My journey has been led and taught by God, and I am always eager to share that process with others and to do it with the same joy and patience that I was given when I was learning.
It goes full circle: the same wisdom that God gave me through kindness and patience, I get to demonstrate to others. My biggest influence and muse has always been through Jesus Christ, because everything He demonstrated through his life and ministry are the same qualities that I want to emulate. I deeply hope the result of my art is a product of that. The glory goes to Him because without Him, I would very likely have given up the brush and gone onto doing something less creative and less fulfilling.
During my journey, I realized that my favorite pastime, video games, stole so much time and energy from my creative process. I discovered that, while it’s a fun way to spend time with friends and relax, it squandered my time and dulled my creativity. So I cut video games out of my life and what blossomed from that was a renewed attention span and devotion to the process of my own work.
The best creative atmosphere for me is good music such as instrumentals, Christian rock, audio of scripture or sometimes even good ol’ silence. I work mostly at my gallery in Olde Town Arvada. Before it was Ethan’s, the gallery was called Light Rail Gallery, and I displayed my art there and taught sip and paint classes. The owner decided to pursue other avenues and asked me if I’d be interested in taking over. I was surprised and hesitant whether I could own and run a successful gallery… and to afford it? Forget about it!
But I heard a still, small voice say, “do you trust Me?” I knew God wanted to demonstrate His faithfulness to me. So despite how unsure of myself I was to take on this mantle, I chose to trust Him with this journey of unfamiliar ground and uncomfortable circumstances. And God came through! I was never cut out for business ownership; my mind was always in the creative cloud. The beginning was gentle with everything coming in manageable doses, and along the way, helpers came who were so generous with their time and expertise. I have family who believes in me and friends who have my back, as well as wonderful, loyal patrons who tell their friends about the gallery! I have learned so much about galleries, artists, business and finances. I would never have believed I could manage these things, but….GOD! Along with a very gracious landlord and his vote of confidence in my vision, this has helped to turn this small business into a dream come true for me. God has been so good with the growth of Ethan’s Gallery and Studio, and I will endeavor to continue to be a good steward.