An interest in things is and always was at the root of art.

— John Sloan

From as early as he can remember, self-taught Tennessee artist H.R. Lovell has loved things—the more ordinary, the better.

“I might see things different as a painter that somebody else may have overlooked,” he told video producer Steve Hall in 2011.

The painter’s quiet realism rivals that of the famed Brandywine School artist Andrew Wyeth, whom Lovell had never heard of—or so he claims—until a collector pointed out the raw resemblance.

Light and Shadows. H.R. Lovell

Lovell uses watercolor and egg tempera to create countryfied compositions that emphasize sunlight, shadow, and texture.

He strives with every painting—which usually take over a year to complete—to perfect his minute brushstrokes.

“My biggest competition is with myself,” he told Hall. “My biggest thing has always been to get better.”

Although he owns his own gallery, unlike Andrew Wyeth Lovell shuns commercial success, instead mentoring students, farming, and running the local water department to makes ends meet.

Ladderback. H.R. Lovell

And unlike Wyeth Lowell doesn’t paint daily, but only when things arrest his attention.

Museum curator Jim Berryman said of Lowell in 2018, “He paints things just because he wants to. He drives by things and has this sense of composition. Most of us would just see tools leaning against a shed.”

Lovell paints because things haunt him—enough so that he simply has to paint them.

Things dwell inside him, longing to venture out.

“An artist who just wishes to paint with nothing in him to paint from remains an art student all his life,” John Sloan wrote in The Gist of Art. “He depends on schools and teachers, and learns methods and manners. The real artist needs no teacher. He will find a way to draw or paint if he has the urge.”

Above: Red, White and Blue. H.R. Lovell