By Jennie Acklin
Artist Sean Huntington comes from generations of family in the area, not far from Ellicottville, so when people see his booth sign, “Sean Huntington, Bradford, PA,” they make a beeline to him just to say “Hey! I’m from Bradford,” or “I know where Bradford is – I’m from Jamestown!” and a kinship begins.
With a full summer schedule of art shows, and hundreds of privately commissioned pieces of artwork throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countries, he looks back on where he started his art career with humor. “I was a math and science kid, but was fascinated with using the creative side of my brain, too.”
“The first summer art show I ever did was in 1998 or ‘99 at the Old City Hall Art Show in Bradford during the July Zippo Days,” Huntington recalls. He credits this show as the beginning of defining his art style. He also credits two of his art teachers with “making me believe in myself at a young and early age,” – Peggy Karasch, his gifted program teacher at Bradford Elementary School, and George San Fillippo, his art teacher at Bradford High School.
For ten years he has been traveling the art show circuit, rotating his schedule depending on travel routes, geography and show dates. His style has evolved since that first show, but he’s very comfortable with “Sean’s Trees,” as he calls his collection of artwork. “This is what I love – local landscape, the bones of the forest, and a recent fascination with a monochromatic pallet,” said Huntington.
Most recently he traveled to the 80th annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival in April, the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival in Bethesda, MD, in May and the oldest art show in the country – the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show – in Philadelphia in early June. Just last weekend he showed at the Roycroft Campus Summer Show, on the grounds of the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, NY. This summer, he’ll be traveling in New York and Pennsylvania, as well as to the Washington, DC area and Massachusetts.
Most of these fine art shows are juried, which means he must present his artwork to a panel of judges, often 6-9 months in advance, in order to be accepted in a particular show. For fine artists, a juried show is an indication that the show committee values a higher quality of art and has attendees that are looking for quality artwork, not manufactured or reproduced pieces.
Huntington also uses social media to promote his artwork.
“It’s almost equal to doing a few shows – a lot of people see my newest works, and my ‘gallery’ of work,” commented Huntington. Seanstrees.com, facebook.com/seanhuntingtonart, and firstname.lastname@example.org are all part of his marketing plan. He also maintains a mailing list of interested buyers from the shows and has a studio at the Town Center in Ellicottville.
“My Ellicottville studio is generally only open by appointment, but on Saturday, July 2, I’ll be opening the doors to show off my recent works,” said Huntington. Located at the Town Center at 28 Parkside Drive, next to the Nannen Arboretum.
“The arboretum – where else would Sean’s Trees be?”
When asked about how he creates his art, things get very technical. Huntington has a unique method of bonding fine quality watercolor paper to stretched canvas.
He starts with a sketch, or study, of the subject, frequently identifying the numerous layers that he has planned. Watercolors are then laid down as either background negative space, or positive foreground subject areas, until the piece is finished.
Sizes range from 6 inches wide to more than five feet. Each of Huntington’s pieces is edged in either aluminum or copper, depending on the color palette. He stamps his name and the title of the piece into the side of the canvas with metal punches that belonged to his grandfather.