Artist and resident Jim Chillington propped his easel on the sidewalk outside The Newtown Bee at 5 Church Hill Road and quickly sketched a view. Taking shape on his canvas was the newspaper’s façade, and in quick strokes the branches of a Japanese Maple and the busy knots of flowers along the sidewalk. Leaning in with bold strokes, he dashed out the lines of Church Hill Road, topped by the flagpole. The end result will be a vivid oil painting.
Explaining how he starts a canvas he said, “There are many steps to think about in a short time.” Becoming a familiar sight himself around town, Mr Chillington has painted scenes recently including panoramas of Main Street’s antique homes, the flag pole, Sandy Hook Center, and the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue station on Riverside Road.
He also recently donated some of his work to the Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity, which held a fundraiser and silent auction earlier in June.
Mr Chillington works from under the brim of a canvas hat, with his headphones in. “I have my music way too loud; that quiets my mind, playing the same song over and over for hours on end.”
Explaining the early stages of his artwork, he said, “We all know Newtown for its natural beauty and historic charm and combining the two in a single composition is a very heartfelt experience for me, epically while listing to music.”
As he set to work on The Bee, he said he “cranked” up a song by The Rolling Stones, “or was it “Gloria” by The Shadows of Night?”
While he has learned from experience of the “many great compositions of a subject” that will manifest in different lighting, he said when he first approached The Bee on foot, he “followed his heart up the sidewalk.” He said, “I tried to keep myself from focusing in on one thing for too long.”
Once he chose a location he set his easel down and “tried to empty my thoughts and let the drawing fly as the adrenaline increased with every stroke,” he said. “I think I stay with the broad view where I find energy as long as I can before focusing in on details.”
Describing his artwork overall, he said, “At this point the closest thing to Zen is listening to classic rock too loud, looking at the beauty of Newtown and feeling it in your heart and letting your hand do the talking.”