Scott Hewett Paints Realism with Pop

By Oliver Peterson, August 11, 2011

Scott Hewett began his artistic career in the commercial world, but despite great success there the realist painter found he was most happy working in the studio with nothing but an easel and his inspiration.

Today, Hewett, 46, is his own boss and spends almost all his waking hours in his Noyac studio painting multiple canvases depicting all manner of subjects. His paintings are almost photorealistic, but Hewett’s distinctive application and technique go beyond reproducing a photograph to create a style all his own.

Hewett’s talents are such that he can draw and paint anything, and it was this skill that helped him ascend to the top of his game as a sneaker designer.

After graduating with a degree in commercial illustration from Massachusetts College of Art, Hewett took an internship drawing shoes at Stride Rite. He soon caught the notice of the company and was hired as an industrial designer with no real training in the field. “It became more serious when they asked me to draw six running concepts,” Hewett said.

Three years later, Reebok hired the artist and he stayed there for 15 fruitful years.

During his time at Reebok, Hewett designed shoes for and worked directly with some of the world’s most famous athletes, including basketball stars Shaquille O’Neal and Alan Iverson, tennis great Michael Chang and golfers Greg Norman and John Daly, among others.

While all this was happening, Hewett was also quietly fostering his passion. “I was doing a lot of painting on the side,” he said, noting that he and a couple other designers for Reebok eventually started putting on exhibitions of their work.

Hewett found the East End through Diane Hewett, an East Hampton native, his wife of 16 years and mother to their children, Dylan, 8, and Cassidy, 4. They moved to Noyac in 1998 and the vibrant and active local art scene gave Hewett the confidence to succeed as a painter.

“It was not until I moved out to Long Island and had my first show at Ashawagh Hall that I knew what I had,” Hewett said, explaining that he sold 15 paintings out of that exhibition in 2000. The show, which was called "Americana," featured paintings of trucks, gas pumps and local landscapes. “When trucks start to rust and rot they are more beautiful than a painted truck,” he said, describing the things that inspire him.

Along with the prolific painter’s huge body of work on display, Hewett’s studio and home are filled with the same vintage signage, oil cans and antiques he enjoys painting.

While the choice of subject defines his work, Hewett’s style transcends simple photorealism by his use of almost hyper-real colors and strong contrast, which give the paintings a pop sensibility. The artist likes to juxtapose dark and light and he often plays with complementary colors. “They fight each other,” he said of the contrasting colors, “and that gives it more pop.”

Hewett uses different media and techniques and he plays with the level of detail in his images. Some areas of a painting will be layered and tight with detail, while other parts are left more loose and gestural. “It’s all experimentation,” he said. “I’m very spontaneous with my work.”

Currently, Hewett is working on a series of pieces featuring candy, gumball machines and other bright subject matter, which still ties into his Americana theme. The painter’s success selling privately has led him to show outside the traditional gallery system, but he will be exhibiting his most recent paintings at restaurant in East Hampton soon.