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 Ned Bittinger  (1951 - )

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/District Of Columbia      Known for: portrait, figure and landscape painting, illustration

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Biography from a third party submitted on 01/24/2010:
Ned Bittinger is a portrait painter who also enjoys painting figurative scenes, landscapes and illustrations.  He received a Bachelor's of Fine Art from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and a Masters of Fine Art from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 1982.

Influenced by such artists as John Singer Sargent, Ilya Repin, Valentin Serov, and N.C. Wyeth, Bittinger paints in a style of realism that retains fresh and spontaneous brushwork, thereby imparting energy and immediacy to his paintings.

His list of portrait subjects includes Dr. Henry Kissinger; Secretaries of State James A. Baker and Lawrence Eagleburger; Congresswoman Lindy Boggs; Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine; John Evans, a founder of C-Span; Shirley MacLaine; and many leaders of the corporate, legal, medical and diplomatic professions.

His portraits are included in the collections of the US Capitol, the US State Department, the Pentagon, University of Virginia, Loyola College, Jefferson Medical University, George Washington University, University of South Carolina, North Carolina State University, New York University, and the Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University.

In 2004, he was chosen by the U.S. House of Representatives to paint the official portrait of Abraham Lincoln to hang in their chambers.

The Portrait Society of America has awarded him their Certificate of Excellence in 2007; The Certificate of Merit in 2006, and the Honors Award for Portraiture two years in a row in 2003 and 2004.

Articles written about Ned and reproductions of his artwork have been included in such publications as The Artist's Magazine, American Artist Magazine, People Magazine, Georgetown and Country, Albemarle Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine, and the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

Ned Bittinger lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I have loved to paint and draw since the days when that my parents packed me off down the street to catch the bus to the Corcoran School of Art in downtown Washington, D. C. when I was 13.   And in particular I've always loved drawing and painting the human figure.  I feel the same joy and wonder today while I'm working as I did those early days long ago when I was struggling with my materials a bit more than I do today.

That fascination with us, with the human figure and what it can express through pose, a placement of a hand, through the particular mood and expression imparted by a glance, drew me to portraits, figurative painting, and to children's book illustration.  
Let me tell you a little bit about this business of painting as I see it: while standing in front of a canvas staring hard at my subject with brush posed to strike, I'm deciding how to make each stroke of paint work for me - how to make it count - how to place it accurately so that it contributes to the likeness while harmonizing with the whole, the sum total of strokes of paint that form a composition of color and shape.  And then I let go.  I reach out and let 'er rip.  And if I'm in the right frame of mind that stroke will carry some of the joy and energy that I'm feeling at that moment.

That's what I love about painting, the painter's strokes.  When I stand in a museum in front of a?oh, let's say a painting by Rembrandt, I feel that the four centuries that separate me from him fall away.  The strokes of paint carry the man, his humanity, his strengths, his searching hand moving this way and that, dabs of paint that sometimes hide and sometimes reveal the struggle that he's absorbed in as we all are.  I can hear him thinking, "Hmm, how about if I do this?"  "Does that dab of paint capture the light coming over his cheek?"  I'm standing with him in conversation.  I'm standing in front of a painting that in essence expresses his comments, his interpretations, and his sensibilities.

And that's what every artist's work is doing, conveying a picture of him or her. 

Depending on the artist, I'm elevated, charmed, impressed, or disappointed.  There are two artists that I studied with who have had the most influence:  William Woodward who taught at George Washington University and Daniel Greene.  I studied under Bill in graduate school where his expansive personality matched his painting style.  His broad knowledge of art history and methods of applying paint that he expounded with skill and flare have left their permanent mark. 

I took two week-long workshops from Daniel Greene back in the early '80's.  It took me a year between each course to assimilate what I had learned.  He's left his mark on thousands of students.

It's interesting: In order to make an lively, painterly work of art, Bill recommended making as few strokes as possible with large brushes. With the same aim in mind Dan recommended many strokes with small brushes.  Both men achieve their objective.  

And I strive for the same thing - lively, painterly work.  Sure, I want a painting to represent the subject matter at hand but without its being a slavish copy.  Rather, I want a painting to be an 'interpretation.'  I want my paintings to be a joyous assemblage of brush strokes that have a vibrancy and interest of their own.  I've learned that if I strive to please myself while I paint, I know I'll be giving my best effort, which may please some others.

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