Scott Hiestand finds excitement in the challenge of capturing nature on canvas.
Ormond Beach resident Scott Hiestand's life used to revolve around newspapers.
He worked as a graphic artist for decades in publications like the St. Pete Times, Orlando Sentinel and the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Hiestand made infographics by day, but turned to his lifelong passion at the end of every work day.
“There were evenings that I’d stay up ‘til like three in the morning painting," Hiestand said.
His love of art started from an early age. Even when he was in grade school, he recalls wanting to be an artist. So, he geared every aspect of his life in that direction, taking as many classes as he could through school and later studying at the Hussian School for Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Right after college, he was recruited by Hallmark. He made $600 a month. After three years, Hiestand moved on.
“I kind of knew that I didn’t want to do greeting cards the rest of my life," Hiestand said.
During one of the first vacations he took, Hiestand went back to St. Petersburg, where he grew up. He walked to the St. Pete Times, now the Tampa Bay Times, and landed an interview. He was later hired as their graphic artist, and remained with the paper for 15 and a half years.
He left for almost a decade to work in a newspaper in Colorado Springs, but decided to return to Florida after getting tired of shoveling snow out of his driveway every winter. Hiestand worked for a small newspaper down in South Florida before arriving at the Orlando Sentinel.
And while he worked with the Sentinel, he was approached by the former Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (now under the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission umbrella) to submit a design for a license plate contest. His design now adorns the backs of vehicles throughout the state.
“I’ve got one of those plates in the back of my truck," Hiestand said.
Years later, after moving to Ormond Beach, he was part of a round of layoffs at the Daytona Beach News-Journal. It was the first time he had lost a job, and he said it impacted him greatly. He decided to go into early retirement, and that gave him more time to paint. He currently paints live at Ocean Art Gallery twice a week.
Hiestand began getting involved with festivals, attending ones like the Halifax Art Festival and Art in the Park in Ormond Beach. He also got involved with plein air painting, which is painting outdoors.
“It’s a combination of two of my favorite things to do, and it couldn’t get any better," Hiestand.
Finding inspiration in nature
Hiestand was also recently named as the cover artist for 14th-annual Wekiva Island Paint Out event taking place from March 4-10. The event celebrates plein air artists, and works to raise awareness about the Wekiva River.
He was chosen based on a painting he did at the Paint Out last year. It was a 30 by 40 inch painting of a Florida landscape with two sandhill cranes flying through it.
Art like this is what Hiestand gravitates toward.
“You can’t sit there and not see an egret fly by or something like that," he said. "So I always try to incorporate something like that in my paintings.”
He said the most exciting part about painting for him is finding inspiration in nature and the challenge that comes with capturing it on a canvas. Finishing a piece, and feeling satisfied with what was achieved, gives him a really good feeling, he said.
Hiestand did a studio painting of an old shed that's not far from his house. He included a border collie whom he and his wife had recently lost. Her name was Mandy.
His wife loved the painting, and was upset when it was sold. So, for her birthday, he re-did the piece and gifted it to her. He told her he actually liked the second rendition better; she said she liked them both equally.
“But she was extremely happy to have that painting back on the wall again," Hiestand said.
'Good art doesn't happen overnight'
Hiestand's one piece of advise for all artists? Don't get discouraged.
Producing good art doesn't happen overnight, he said.
"You have to practice, and you have to have courage when you paint and just not be afraid to make mistakes, because every good artist makes mistakes, and every good artist has a closet full of paintings that just never worked," he said.
His own garage is full of paintings that never got off the ground. Hiestand said that's where practice and courage come in.
“Every painting is not going to be a winner, but what you learn from that painting, you take to the next painting," he said.