Ketchikan landscapes figure large in Kier Hack’s “Recollection” exhibit | Scene | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council has opened a new exhibit titled “Recollection” by Ketchikan artist Kier Hack at The Commons Gallery in collaboration with the Tongass Federal Credit Union.

The Arts Council’s website biography for Hack notes that he is a Filipino-American artist, and that he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pacific Lutheran University in 2018. He currently works at Sign Pro as a graphic designer.

During a telephone call with the Daily News on Sunday, Hack said that when he started learning how to paint with acrylics in high school he formed techniques that he continues to use in his digital artwork.

“I start off with a white canvas,” he said, “I build it up, I put a layer of blue for the sky and then just kind of build up from there.”

He added, “I’m just doing an acrylic painting, but on an iPad, because there’s less cleanup.”

He said that he starts his digital paintings by creating a drawing on his iPad with a stylus, using his own photographs as inspiration.

“I just gravitated toward landscape art, where it’s just the environment and nature,” he said.

His fascination with landscape and nature was inspired, Hack said, by taking hikes with his grandparents as a youth.

“They noticed that I was pretty OK at drawing, so they always kind of encouraged it,” he said. “My grandpa and grandma are both photographers, and so they like to go out in nature and take photos of wildlife and particularly, like, Mount Rainier area in Washington.

“That’s how I grew up, and so I just kind of carried on that aspect of it, where every time I go somewhere out in nature I’m always taking a zillion pictures,” he added.

He recalled his grandfather telling him, “I take a picture of something, and I can only do so much — whatever’s on that film is what’s going to come out — but it’s really good that you can draw and you can paint; you can make it perfect.”

Hack said that when he creates his digital paintings, using his photos as references, he enjoys the freedom of adjusting the original composition to approach that perfection.

“That tree that’s just kind of in the way of the mountain, just skootch it a little to the left, and now you’ve got the mountain in full view,” he said as an example of his process.

His “Recollection” exhibit is based on a hike he did last year over the Minerva traverse, he said.

Included in his exhibit are digital paintings titled “Lake View,” portraying a view from the top of the Minerva ridgeline; “Ridgeline,” which depicts a view of people hiking along that ridge; “The Climb,” which shows a broad blue sky blooming with puffy clouds over hikers and their dog walking across the sun-warmed ridge; “Ward Cove,” which depicts a view of the cove from the shoulder of Ward Mountain; and “Treetops,” in which a twisted, bonsai-like tree takes center stage against a backdrop of forested mountains.

The subtle, glowing colors that make Hack’s works stand out are created by sampling actual color from the digital photos that he uses for reference, then editing as needed to perfect the final composition.

Hack’s motivation for creating his artwork, he said, “is a little bit of a return to the roots.”

While studying graphic design in college, he learned to use programs such as Photoshop Illustrator and how to utilize all of the complex tools it offers. He also learned about marketing, and “at the end of it, I realized, ‘Wow, I haven’t done just a pen-to-a-piece-of-paper drawing in years.’”

Most of his college education focused on digital skills, he said, and he realized he’d missed simply drawing in his paper sketchbook.

Hack said that he began “just trying to remind myself why I went into art.”

Much of his current motivation to create art is to meaningfully recollect special memories such as the Minerva traverse hike.

“A lot of times, you take photos on your phone and you never look back at them,” he said. Creating this series of artworks allowed him to recall, “that was a really fun hike and I remember that view and it’s really pretty, so I’m going to try to recreate the photo that I took — it was kind of drab — it never turns out how you remembered it.”

As he creates his digital paintings while referring to those photos, he said that he finds it rewarding to create an image that looks closer to how he remembered the scene than his photos were able to capture.

“That’s kind of playing into the name of the exhibit, too — it’s a recollection — I’m remembering how this is for me, and not how the camera saw it,” Hack said.

Hack said that this is his first solo exhibit. He noted that people can expect more artworks to be added to the exhibit as time goes on. Hack added that his works are for sale, and because they are digital, he can print any number that people would need. Each piece is printed on Plexiglass, he noted.

Hack’s artwork can be seen online at, at, on Instagram by searching for “Kiermadethis,” and videos showing his painting process can be found on YouTube by searching for “Kier’s Doodles.”

Hack’s exhibit can be viewed at The Commons gallery, located at 2106 Tongass Ave., through Jan. 5.


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