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An oasis of calm in a hectic world

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The world can be frenetic and discombobulating, but you can find a little peace and tranquility in the oil paintings of veteran artist Otto Trott.

Mr Trott will hold his first art show in two years at the Windjammer II Gallery next month.

In one painting, a white egret holds its feet out across a dark pond in preparation for landing; boats float gently in Flatts inlet in another.

“I like to paint a lot of the quieter places in Bermuda,” he said. “Most of my work is done from the main road on public property. Anyone could go to any of the locations and see what inspired the work.”

Although he shrugs off the label of environmentalist or naturalist painter, he loves to paint birds. Many of his works are inspired by trips to the Spittal Pond nature reserve in Smith’s. But he said his work wasn’t formulaic with all the typical pretty Bermuda scenes.

“In one painting I have boats turned over and left under the mangroves as you would often see in a place like Mullet Bay, St George’s,” he said. “They are kind of rough-looking boats. It isn’t the typical beauty spot.”

Mr Trott has been exhibiting in Bermuda for almost 40 years, but said that even at this stage in his career he is learning and growing every day.

“One thing that helps me grow is reading different books and magazines and listening to other artists,” he said. “The other day I was listening to a Christian speaker talking about life in general. They were talking about things being simple but profound. I thought, that’s how I want my work to be: simple enough where you recognise a particular location, but profound enough where you continually enjoy looking at it.”

One of the most challenging pieces for him in this exhibition was a large painting of Great Bay, St David’s. He was still working on it when he spoke with

The Royal Gazette.

“It has a lot of boats in it, and the sky is pretty interesting,” he said. “The water is crystal clear and you can see the sea bottom in the picture. The challenge is that some objects in the picture, such as seaweed, are shown partly above and partly below the water. This required very careful colour mixing.”

He worked faithfully on location for many years, but now often takes a photo of his subject and then works on his painting in the studio. He does this because he found working on location to be a bit restrictive as it limited him to places where he could fit his equipment.

“If you wanted to paint the view from a busy corner, for example, or a narrow road, you wouldn’t be able to paint it,” he said. He sometimes uses computer programmes such as Photoshop to enlarge or highlight certain parts of the photograph to make it easier to paint from.

“Photography is an art form that has been around for 150 years or so and some people make it sound like it is against the rules to use it,” he said. “I think it is against the rules if you have never really worked on location before, and you don’t really know what a landscape is like.”

Mr Trott took courses in photography in university, with the result that a lot of the photographs he takes on location can be considered works of art in themselves. He has a website devoted just to his photographic work. His primary medium is oils, although he does have a few watercolours and pen and ink drawings in the art show at Windjammer II.

“What I like about oils is that you can paint a layer, scrape it off and then go back into it,” he said. “It stays wet long enough where you can paint the surface and the paint doesn’t dry. You can have a batch of paint there and keep working. I have tried working with acrylic. In Bermuda I used to find that it would be dry in half the time before you got to use it, or you would throw so much paint away. They do have some slow-drying types of acrylics, but I have gotten used to working in oil.”

He wouldn’t say which of the paintings in the show were his favourite. He said that would be like a father naming a particular child as number one.

“You aren’t supposed to have a favourite child, you are supposed to love them the same,” he said. “In my work, hopefully, I have been consistent enough that they are all good. It would imply that one has a level of excellence that surpasses the rest, if I called one a favourite.”

The exhibit runs in the Windjammer II Gallery at Fairmont Hamilton Princess from May 9 through 23.

Artist Otto Trott in his studio
Blue Hole Park Beach.
Coot Pond and Jetty.
A Great Blue Heron takes off.
A white egret comes in for a landing.
Artist Otto Trott in his studio.

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Published April 10, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 10, 2013 at 9:18 am)

An oasis of calm in a hectic world

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