The Shadow of Time
After picking back up the paintbrush at age 50, representational artist Jon Haug has let both life and career
experiences shape the trajectory of his work
By Emory Rakestraw
JON HAUG’S life has been a balance of doing and not doing.
There were many summers spent working with his father,
a skilled plasterer, that laid the groundwork for his full-time
business and understanding of a trade-based skill. His
love of art, honed from a young age, took a hiatus when he
became a husband and father. When he started painting again at 50,
the collective experiences shaped the brushstrokes.
From anniversary dinners to manipulating textures in paint with
compounds more suitable for building work, it took him “not doing”
for many years in order to finally do, again.
“As a teenager, I loved to draw,” he says. “I won a number of
scholarships in high school and majored in art for two years.
However, at the time in the early ’80s, representational art was seen
by many as antiquated. I felt like I had no future in the type of art
I loved. I dropped out of school and stopped art. It was painful to
even try to paint or draw. I constantly had ideas come to mind, but I
mostly stored them away. I always said, one day I will paint again.”
One of the portraits he did in high school foreshadowed what
would later become a signature style in his body of work. Sepia-tones
54 july 2021
reminiscent of a film roll bleed off the subject; dark shades
mingle with bursts of light reflecting pieces of hair, lips and cheeks.
This representational style depicts tangible objects that can be
seen, like someone sitting for a portrait, or of a building one might
Flash forward 30-some years. His oil painting The Three Sisters
features the New Hanover County Courthouse, St. James Episcopal
Parish, and First Presbyterian Church in a strikingly similar color
While all art is subjective to a degree, Haug has found a way
to master his real-life subjects in an ethereal sense more akin to
impressionism, using long brushstrokes and texture to shape the
subject into different roles dependent on the distance of the viewer.
His first attempt at reentering the art world mimicked his early high
school portraiture depicting faces, emotions and a moment in time.
“When I hit 50, I walked into the Barnes & Noble at Mayfaire,
picked up an art magazine and saw an article about Jeremy Lipking,
an amazing representational painter. The style of art I loved was
coming back into vogue,” Haug says. “I knew I had to start some-where,
so I started charcoal drawing. Next, I started painting and
realized I had a lot to learn.”
Studying the work of Casey Baugh, he used the technique of
placing charcoal in a bag to achieve softer lines, lending more free-dom.
A charcoal portrait of his daughter, Savannah, hangs in their
family home. Provoking an airbrushed quality, the edges display a
delicacy in movement while the subject both emerges and is cen-tered
from the use of light and dark contour.
While he employs charcoal to capture the softer moments of
life, most of his oil paintings are based around the landscapes of
Wilmington — the cobblestone streets of historic downtown, wind-swept
marshes, and iconic beachside landmarks.
Using three skill sets, the mixed-media piece Shadow of Time
features his niece leaning against the aged brick exterior of the Slice
of Life pizzeria. The charcoal-based portrait was covered in rich oil
tones. A crackle compound was then applied to the brick, achieving
a realistic weathered look.
“I like to have layers of texture and color, that’s how Wilmington
is,” Haug says. “The history — it has layer upon layer — there’s a
beautiful complexity here.”
Inspired by the beauty of Wilmington and surrounding areas,
figurative artist Jon Haug broadened his subject matter to include