Albion Retreat and Learning Center

Instructor Bios

Bryan Hewitt

(Digital Photography I and II) – 

Bryan Hewitt is an interdisciplinary artist and freelance photographer currently living and working in San Anselmo and San Francisco, California. He has shown both nationally and internationally, most recently as part of Raw Feed at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Third Strike: 100 Performances for the Hole at SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco, CA and Over My Dead Body at Root Division in San Francisco, CA.

He is currently represented by Chandra Cerrito, Art Advisor. His work is included in the permanent collections of Yatoo, The Korean Nature Arts Association, and SF Recycling & Disposal.

Hewitt attended Southern Oregon University where he earned a B.A. in Art with a minor in Spanish Literature in 2000. He received an M.F.A. in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004. Since that time he has held positions as an instructor at the graduate and/or undergraduate level at the Memphis College of Art, the Art Institute of California-San Francisco, the UC Berkeley Extension Program, the Academy of Art University and the San Francisco Art Institute. He is currently working as a freelance photographer, color management consultant and photography instructor.

John Hewitt

(Art) –

John began painting in college with Vernon Nye, who was chairman of the art department at Pacific Union College. Immediately after finishing medical school, John continued study with Vernon and with other California School greats such as Millard Sheets, George Post, and Rex Brandt.

John was appointed instructor in art at College of the Redwoods from 1982 to 1985, where he also had a one-man show in 1984. In 1994 he was appointed instructor in art at Pacific Union College and now teaches their yearly summer art course at Mendocino, California, during the last two weeks of June.

John is in several permanent collections nationwide, and exhibits regularly in national juried shows. He has had 10 one-man shows in several different states and galleries in the past 15 years. He has been in over 100 national juried watercolor show in the last 20 years with 27 awards.

Permanent Collections: State of California (Jade Fon Asilomar purchase award winner 1985), Ingomar Club of Eureka, Calif., Trust Fund of the West museum collection; University of West Virginia Hruby Memorial Hospital; St. Joeseph's Hospital in Eureka California; and many professional office complexes.

Artist's Statement: I believe that great painting evokes an emotional response in the viewer that can not be translated into words. It is a manipulation of form and color that grabs the viewer without intention. I believe quality paintings are more likely achieved by heeding the wisdom of those who came before rather than simply launching rudderless into the unknown. I believe that the final judgment of what is good art rests with the people who purchase it as well as those 'trained' to judge it. That being said, I strive to paint as personal a view of the world as possible. I am particularly interested in areas of conflict in nature such as the sea against the shore, timberline in the mountains, the effects of nature against the temporariness of manmade structure, and of the people who are part of it all.

John has been represented by several galleries including Accurate Art of Sacramento California; Valperrine Gallery of Madison, Wisconsin; Tudor Gallery of Brookings, Oregon; Peanut Gallery of Portland, Oregon; Presidio Gallery of Sonoma, California; the Zimmer Gallery in Mendocino, and the Grimmer Gallery in Oakhurst, and the Vault Gallery in Sonora, California.

Dennis Simpson

(Art) –

Dennis Simpson, an artist, admits to being a "storyteller." He is a watercolorist creating the story with a brush rather than a pen. It is a convincing narrative. He was born in 1946 in Albany, California. He began painting at the age of 8. He painted through high school, later meeting and studying with the accomplished painter Vernon Nye, AWS, who became his mentor and trusted friend. Simpson learned to be spontaneous as opposed to being deliberate in the application of his paint.

After graduating from Cal State University, Hayward, with a degree in fine art, Dennis served in the Army as an illustrator, 5th Army Pistol Team member and a Helicopter medic from 1970 to 1972. He was a Special Education teacher and part-time art instructor before retiring in 2004.

Artists such as Homer, Sargent, Degas, Breton and Nye have been most influential on Simpson. He also feels a close affinity to the Barbizon approach to landscape painting, where the changing light, weather and daily rituals provide the subject for his paintings.

Simpson prefers "plein air" painting. The rolling California hills and coastal scenes are his focus. A painterly approach appeals to the artist, capturing his impressions and personal feelings generated by the subject at hand. By allowing the paint to settle in ways one can not anticipate, he brings even more integrity to his work. He admits there are certain things in painting, like life, that you just cannot predict. By honoring the past he believes one can add a little bit of "it," making it fresh, your own.

He loves the first 15 minutes of the painting process, laying the groundwork. "The shape, texture and values of the visual elements confronting me are more important than the elements themselves in my efforts to capture a scene or object." In designing the composition he "snatches some fun." He then has to deal with "sets of skirmishes" and "mitigates the damage." Simpson likens himself and the art of watercolor to that of a physician. The artist and physician are directed by the circumstance. At times one must act quickly, in the now, perform and improvise where needed.

Like Homer, Simpson has thrown away what many set as "rules." He is not a purist. He will not hesitate to do what it takes to create his finished painting, be it lifting color or scratching the surface. He continues to teach credited watercolor workshops at Pacific Union College in California. The artist instills in his students the need to simplify, simplify, simplify. He reminds his students that "they are not cameras and never will be. The eye shall travel to the subject, not the entire picture, and at times you'll discover there is more than one subject to address."

Dennis Simpson exhibits his paintings in Mendocino, California, and has shown his work in Yountville and Napa, California.