World-renowned artist Greg Hildebrandt has painted a historical image of Lake Hopatcong (in fact, he painted some of it live at the Lake Hopatcong Block Party in May) to donate to the LHF Gala and Auction on July 19. Here he stands with the final framed product, which shows a collection of historical scenes with the Hudson Maxim boat house at the center.
“In 1991 we moved to Lake Hopatcong because there is a beauty and a peace here that enriches our lives. Each day the lake is magical. For an artist the environment in which you live is a critical part of your creativity. The lake inspires me. It is my pleasure to help keep it alive and well.”
Greg Hildebrandt Biography
The sons of a Chevrolet division chief, Greg Hildebrandt and his identical twin brother, Tim, were born in Detroit, Michigan in 1939. Both boys were avid artists and creative thinkers from a young age, and carried their artistic passion with them throughout their childhoods.
After attending the Meinzinger Art School at age 18, Greg and Tim worked for the Jam Handy Organization and Industrustrial Film Production Corporation. They worked on animated training films for the auto industry, the military and major US corporations. In 1963, they moved from Detroit to New York City to work for Arch Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. He hired them to create art for his weekly TV show, Life is Worth Living, and to produce films on world hunger.
Eventually their focus moved on to commercial illustration, and in 1975, Greg and Tim illustrated the first of a series of Lord of the Rings calendars for Ballantine Books. This series of paintings launched the two men into international fame, with over a million calendars sold, and the name The Brothers Hildebrandt® was born! In 1977, Lucas Films hired the Brothers Hildebrandt to create the movie poster for first Star Wars film, Star Wars: A New Hope.
For years Greg and Tim would work together and apart, receiving international recognition and numerous awards and honors. But for Greg, there was something inside him that he needed to let out.
Since the age of 8, Greg was drawn to both pin-up art and cars. He remembers going to his grandparent’s house and sneaking into the basement to look through his grandfather’s pin-up calendars, which were illustrated by the great Gil Elvgren. The style and rendering of those paintings intrigued him and inspired him. Greg knew that some day he would create his own series of beautiful women. He just didn’t know when.
Finally, in 1999, at 60 years old Greg Hildebrandt decided it was time to paint for himself. Greg recalls,
“I sat at my drawing board and began to sketch. I had no idea what I wanted to do. No clue what direction I wanted these paintings to go in. What I had was my love of art and an overwhelming appreciation of the beauty of women.
I knew one thing. I knew that I did not want my paintings to look like the great masters of pin-up art from the 40’s and 50’s: Gil Elvgren, George Petty, Haddon Sundblom and Alberto Vargas. I knew I wanted to set them in the 40’s and 50’s but they had to be mine. I didn’t want anyone looking at my art like I was copying these great artists. I want people to see my vision of pin-up art.
After weeks of drawing I finally realized that no matter how hard I tried, the sketches that I liked the best were full illustrations. Corner to corner so to speak – art that tells a story.”
With the help of his agent Greg decided to pick a sub-genre to focus on for his paintings. His first piece would combine elements close to his heart – a beautiful woman, a Jazz bar, and a handful of his friends. After finding the right model, Greg painted his first ever Noir pin-up painting, ‘Emerald Evening’, and American Beauties was begun!
Within weeks of finishing ‘Emerald Evening’ Greg landed a one-man show at the Meisel Gallery in Soho, New York. For the next year, all Greg painted was beautiful women in retro clothes and settings.
After a few years there were enough paintings to feature the American Beauties on their own website, so Greg’s agent created a special online gallery just for these works of art, AmericanBeautiesArt.com. The American Beauties collection has unique subsets. There are good girls, bad girls, show girls, girls with boats and planes, girls with guns and cars. Each of these paintings has a story to tell.
Greg has also had the honor to paint original nose art on four magnificent World War II war birds in Texas. These planes in themselves are a work of art. Each of these paintings brought Greg to Texas to work on scaffolding for at least 2 weeks at a time. His hope is that these planes will live on forever.
Since 2003 Greg has been the exclusive artist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He creates all the art for their tours and their merchandise. This is very special to Greg as he loves their music and is very close to Paul O’Neill, the creator of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
“Here I am, years later, with over 86 finished paintings in this series and I still have a mountain of sketches on my drawing board. I have decided that if I lived five lifetimes I would not be able to paint all the images of beautiful women that I see in my mind.
So I keep sketching and picking individual pieces to paint. I keep searching for the perfect model to fit my images. I keep buying vintage clothes and stuff to use in the paintings. And I keep hoping that I have another 30 or 40 years left to paint.
American Beauties was a long time in the making for me. I hope you enjoy the art as much as I enjoy creating it. I hope my American Beauties art has the ability to transform and inspire you. I hope that it stirs passions within you. And I hope that it fulfills your fantasies and dreams.
If after you have viewed this series I have achieved even one of the above, then I have succeeded in my quest.”