When Fred Honchell of Delta left the U.S. Air Force in 1970, he went to work for Lockheed Aircraft Company in Marietta, Ga. Lockheed sent him to Edwards Air Force Base in the Mohave Desert where he worked on the C5A flight testing program.
"I was out in the desert by myself with spare time on my hands," Honchell said.
"I started painting, took lots of art classes, went to art workshops, and progressed from there."
He likes to paint on site in nature — plein air — and focuses his attention on the chosen subject. "I find a scene or subject that interests me and I learn to love it. I then try to express the feelings I have about the scene or subject through my painting.
"I thank the Lord for my eyes," Honchell said.
Standing in his studio surrounded by many of his paintings, he pointed to an example of nature's action. He had painted a tall, solid fence which had collapsed, almost intact, outward, revealing a huge tree behind it. Probably, as the tree grew it continued to press against the fence, eventually causing the fence's collapse. Honchell titled the painting "Nature of Loss."
Honchell paints primarily in watercolor, but also in acrylic and gausch. His subjects are mostly landscapes and his painting environment is outside, nature.
He picked up a painting in progress of an old car, and painting it is obviously giving Honchell a great deal of pleasure. He sat painting away in Ridgway last Thursday, Nov. 1, where he found the old car at God's Rods, a garage owned by a mechanic friend and his wife. The background and bottom part of the painting are in watercolor and he is painting the old car itself in acrylic. The painting is titled "Open Seating."
Honchell grew up in Pontiac, Michigan. He has hanging in his home an impressive painting of Lake Michigan, with a lighthouse in Milwaukee in the background. The foreground shows the patterns in the breaking up of the ice, the breaking up created by the wave action of the lake. One can sense the cold and dampness in this winter nature setting.
That scene was painted on site. In his studio he has another Michigan painting which is inspired by memory. He remembers well the bustling, hectic manufacturing world that formerly existed in his home state. The painting is titled "American Idle," capturing the consequences of all the factory closings over the past few years. The painting shows a large factory building, its smokestack, its vast area for parking, with its activity now silenced. Honchell commented, "There is no smokecoming from the smokestack, the employees' parking lot is empty, and all the new cars are sitting there in the snow, unsold."
For many pleasurable outings to paint, Honchell was accompanied by his painting companion, Buster, his Keeshond dog, who would run around investigating and sniffing the area, return to be sure his human companion was still there, then be off again to investigate and sniff. Buster is quite elderly now and spends most of his days sleeping. Honchell misses Buster's companionship on his painting outings.
Honchell exhibits his paintings in many venues. "Every place I can, I enter paintings," he said.
"I enter the Glenwood Springs Show in the fall every year. I sold one I entered this year," he noted. "I enter with the Working Artists Gallery in Grand Junction on Main Street. They sell the paintings they exhibit.
"The AGO Gallery in Ouray sold my paintings for years. The building recently went up for sale and we artists had to take our paintings out of the gallery.
"I exhibit paintings at the Colorado Watercolor Society every year in Denver. Delta Fine Arts has an agreement with the Creamery Arts Center in Hotchkiss to feature one artist a month, with a new artist every month, and I exhibit there every year.
"Western Colorado Watercolor Society has a national show every year in Grand Junction and I am juried into that show every year."
Honchell said, "I exhibit wherever I live. In Juneau, Alaska, I lived right down the road from the Mendenhall Glacier and would go to paint there regularly. I exhibited several paintings of the Mendenhall Glacier at the Faces, Places and Things Gallery in Juneau."
Before his retirement Honchell flew for a living. He has lived in Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, even Denver, and Texas and California. He lived in the Atlanta area for six years and has a lot of good friends back there. He was a pilot for Air Wisconsin and Airborne Express.
He retired in 2007 and wanted to move back to Colorado, but away from Denver. He has a brother in Rifle. Fred and his wife Annie looked for a place to call home in Grand Junction and Palisade, and settled on Delta as home. They were looking for a place near the mountains, a great location with terrific scenery.
"I wanted to go out all by myself and look at fantastic scenery, marvel at God's creation, doubling the joy by seeing God's creation and then painting it," Honchell said.
Fred has a son in Denver, a daughter in California and a daughter in Spirit Lake, Iowa. All Annie's children live in Madison. Wis. Between them Fred and Annie have five grandchildren. One grandchild, Annie's grandson Cameron, comes to visit every summer.
"Cameron is a great kid," Fred said. "He is eight years old now, a nice young man." He goes out with Fred to paint. Once when Cameron was here in winter, it snowed and he went with Fred to the top of Grand Mesa, on the trail to Land's End. Fred set up his equipment to paint. Cameron stayed for a little while out in the snow then decided to go back to the car. The wind blew up and blew the snow into jagged piles, inspiring Fred's painting, "Winter Waves."
Asked what advice he would give to someone who wanted to become an artist, Honchell said, "Take classes, learn the basics of painting and drawing, and practice a lot."blog comments powered by Disqus