Local mechanic finds his niche in acrylic painting

  • Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013 12:01 a.m.
Susan Shinn / For the Salisbury Post 
Alan Hinshaw is pursuing artwork full-time. He discovered this summer he had a knack for painting with acrylics.
Susan Shinn / For the Salisbury Post Alan Hinshaw is pursuing artwork full-time. He discovered this summer he had a knack for painting with acrylics.

Alan Hinshaw has always loved to draw. Over the years, he’s worked in charcoal, pastels and oil. This summer, he discovered he had a talent for acrylic painting.

“It was something I’d never tried before,” says Alan, 25. “I went with it, and I had a knack.”

He began painting at the end of July, and now has a collection of finished canvases that he’s ready to sell.


“It’s taken me awhile to come to terms with letting go of my paintings,” he says. “It’s very personal.”

Alan took basic art classes and folk art at South Rowan High School, as well as art classes at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he planned to study architecture.

That changed when he found out that field has the highest unemployment rate for graduates. So what was the highest employment rate? Business administration.

Alan transferred to Catawba College before completing his studies in business administration at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

For the past six years, he’s worked at Hilbish Ford as a mechanic, but admits it’s not a career he wants to continue.

“It’s hard work,” Alan says. “I’m ready to move on. I found plenty of automotive jobs, but I don’t want to go back.”

He loves working on his own vehicles, and another one of his passions is off-roading in lifted Jeeps. He recently sold one of his lifted Jeeps to a friend, so that provided a good infusion for his cash flow. His main focus now is his art.

“This has been my dream,” Alan says. “There’s not a better time to do it.”

His bedroom doubles as his studio.

“I paint in my room, on the floor,” he explains. “I have to take breaks to stretch. You have to paint quick with acrylic. It dries fast.”

Alan is left-handed, so he leans on his right hand while he works. It takes him two to four hours to complete a painting.

He says he usually doesn’t know what he will paint until his brush touches the canvas. He uses no photographs or other images.

Thus far, he’s concentrated on landscapes, seascapes and architecture. He mainly paints in landscape format because he likes its panoramic feel.

The canvases measure 16 by 20 inches or 18 by 24 inches. He seems especially taken with night-time streetscapes — four of his paintings are based on this subject. Alan says it’s because he wants to show perspective and depth — and lots of light.

“I don’t really put symbolism into anything,” he says. “I just want to show someone something that’s two-dimensional can be as deep as it gets. The easiest way to do that is by showing light.”

The most important thing, he says, is knowing when to stop.

“You just have to take a step back and look at it,” he says. “You try to be that third person, that critic.”

The first person, he explains, is the artist. Who’s the second person?

“My parents,” Alan says.

Of course, Ed and Anna Hinshaw love everything their son has painted.

“He just needs to get some volume now,” Ed says, surveying his son’s small collection of paintings. “He’s keeping it loose. I like the fact that it lets your eye move through the painting.”

“To create art to me is something that is so exciting,” Anna adds.

Anna says she has no artistic ability, but Alan and his two sisters appreciate her creativity.

“If we have writer’s block or artist’s block we can talk things through with her,” he says. “She helps us see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

And for Alan, that light translates onto the canvas.

For more information about Alan Hinshaw’s artwork, contact him at talanhinshaw@yahoo.com.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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