by Lou Mancinelli
For years, local artist Wayne Hibschman was painting in his head. At least that’s what he told people once he started painting again four years ago, after stopping for nearly four years before that.
An accomplished artist, teacher and former business owner, Wayne’s past 10 years have been his most productive in terms of artistic production. Hibschman, 59, who has exhibited at Woodmere Art Museum, among other venues, and has taught at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, as well as on the collegiate level and at Cheltenham Center for the Arts, is a working artist faced with the old question of how to create time for his art.
For 16 years he ran his own architectural rendering and consulting business. He created renderings for new homes and businesses, as well as floor plans and brochures. These days he works as a standardized patient instructor.
If you have ever seen the Seinfeld episode when Kramer and his pal get work as actors who play sick so student doctors can diagnose different diseases, then you know what a standardized patient instructor is. It’s the teacher who teaches those actors. Before he taught the actors, he was an acting patient himself and has worked in that unusual industry since 2003.
“I think the biggest challenge for any artist is finding that quiet moment to work,” said Hibschman. “It’s kind of erratic. I’m another one of those artists finally having time to paint.”
Hibschman has begun to show his work more often in recent years, with help from social media and with photos of his work on a Facebook page.
Four of his pieces are currently on exhibition at “Naked In New Hope,” a group show at Sidetracks Gallery in New Hope that runs through October. This past summer his work was included in “The Artists’ Model,” a group exhibition held at Montgomery County Community College. The work was from a group of 10 artists who meet once a week to practice drawing a human model.
Hibschman founded the group 30 years ago when he and fellow Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) classmate Marie Bender “decided we wanted to keep working from the model” after their classes ended.
“I always relate it to a pianist practicing their scales,” Hibschman said about continuing to paint, or draw, in different mediums, from charcoal to silverpoint, pencil to oil (his preference), the human form. It’s a chance to experiment with different techniques.
In his work Hibschman presents a realism that conveys a story beyond the image. One of his most provocative creations is the simple image of utility workers at a site, with one worker heading down the sewer.
The piece is of three workers all with indistinct faces.
Titled “Depth Perception,” it is graphite on grey prepared paper. It is so compelling and true to life, this viewer feels as if he is literally driving down the street and spotting these workers going about their business.
Raised in Northeast Philly’s Rhawnhurst section, Hibschman attended Northeast High School (’73). He started painting when he was young, and by high school, the art teacher gave him his own little space in the art room. He went on to study painting at Tyler School of Art. When he graduated in 1977 he felt he still hadn’t learned enough to be the kind of artist he wanted to be. At Tyler, the zeitgeist was geared towards abstract art, but Hibschman was more interested in realism.
He wound up working odd jobs for a few years, like at a Sears warehouse on Roosevelt Boulevard. Still desiring to expand his knowledge about art, he enrolled in classes at PAFA in 1980. “When I got out of college, I kind of thought I needed more.”
In 1980 he also started a long career in drafting for Henkels & McCoy, engineering contractors in Blue Bell. While he worked, he also studied painting with long-time teacher Arthur DeCosta at PAFA.
In 1986 Hibschman started working with an architect’s office in Center City, drafting construction plans, doing the drawings to be presented to planning boards and creating plans for builders.
Meanwhile, he painted when he could, but he often destroyed the paintings he didn’t like. Now, when he looks at pictures he still has from that era, he sometimes wishes he hadn’t ruined the others.
He married in 1987, and with his wife Maureen, has two children. When Hibschman took a four-year break from painting eight years ago, it was to move to Chalfont, to care for his parents. His mom was in her late 80s, and his dad was in his 90s. His parents have since died, and Hibschman still resides in Chalfont.
In many of his recent creations, it is as though the painter has known his subjects for a very long time, even though they are people he has hardly met. It’s capturing an essence beyond physical resemblance that guides the motion of his brush. He strives to “get away a little bit from the literal narration of the subject … The whole game is figuring out what that is.
“I was always my worst critic to the point where I didn’t want to show my work because I thought it wasn’t good enough,” he said. But now he knows, and he’s spent a lifetime chasing the image.
For more information contact Wayne Hibschman on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.