John Hull, Narrative Painter: Part 2

John Hull on Savvy Painter
John Hull and his son Isaac

In part 2 of this multi- part conversation with narrative artist John Hull, John shares great tips on how he sets up his painting space and how that helps him stay focused on his art. John and Antrese also talk about the literature that has inspired John – he is an avid reader so the list of books is long.

John also talks about grad school, and if you scroll down to the bottom, you can see examples of his early work from college.

Leave a comment below, tell me what you learned from this episode.

And out of curiosity, how do you set up your palette and what does that set up do for your painting?

 Show Highlights:

  • The common thread between Corbet, Whistler and Gwen John.
  • The system John uses to warm up and get in the “zone”.
  • What Abraham Lincoln can teach us about sound studio practice.
  • Discussion of books, and essays that have influenced John.
  • Three essential qualities Tolstoy says artists must possess.
  • Being vulnerable and sincere in your art.
  • How John uses the color palette of master artists as a jumping off point when he’s stuck.
  • Process of combining drawings and photographs to create larger scale paintings.
  • The struggles during graduate school and finding his voice.
  • John’s fascination of people who “misbehave” and people that devote their lives outside themselves.
  • How your art has to grow out of what you care about, celebrating the normal, quiet moments.

Other Artists Mentioned:

Gustave Courbet

James Whistler

Gwen John

Philip Guston

Morton Feldman

Frederic Remington

Pablo Picasso

Henri Matisse

Eugene Delacroix

Lucien Freud

Willem de Kooning


Author/Books/Essays Mentioned:

Life with Picasso, Francois Gilot

Wallace Stevens, An Ordinary Evening, Poem

Max Beckman, “On My Painting”

Joseph Conrad, Author

Leo Tolstoy, “What is Art”

Van Gogh, The Letters

Hawthorne on Painting

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane

French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier– and the movie Coup de Torchon

Author Jim Thompson, and the book Pop. 1280

Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen : Reflections on Sixty and Beyond

Frank Delaney, Ireland: A Novel



To see more of John’s work at

Historic Ash Park - John Hull on Savvy Painter
Historic Ash Park
John Hull on Savvy Painter
NITE RODEO, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 60
'MATT' John Hull on Savvy Painter
MATT, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12


This group of paintings came from two series that dealt with small rural communities. The setting are in Colorado and Iowa but they were places that reminded me of the town I grew up in.

CONVERSATION , John Hull on Savvy Painter
CONVERSATION , 2001, acrylic on canvas 48 x 72
'HANDSHAKE' - John Hull on Savvy Painter
‘HANDSHAKE’, 1999, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48
STONE HOUSE - John Hull on Savvy Painter
STONE HOUSE, 1998, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48
SORRY YOU ASKED- John Hull on Savvy Painter
SORRY YOU ASKED, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 60

Early Work:

From John’s Grad School Days

'Fire in the Minds of Men' - John Hull on Savvy Painter
‘Fire in the Minds of Men’
John Hull on Savvy Painter
‘You Know Me Al’

A series about Penitents in New Mexico who practice a primitive form of Catholicism:

'Brotherhood of Darkness' - John Hull on Savvy Painter
‘Brotherhood of Darkness’
'Testament' - John Hull on Savvy Painter
'Maquinas de Savore' - John Hull on Savvy Painter
‘Maquinas de Savore’

Get better results in your studio Today.

When you feel confident about your work and you are solid in your self concept as an artist, you stop worrying about how long the painting takes, or when you will “make it.” Instead, you focus on what you know is working. You allow time for your process to unwind. You let go of all the chatter. This is what you will create for yourself in Growth Studio - the unwavering belief in yourself as an artist so that you make art that matters to you. Click here to join.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}