A NATIVE OF THE FINGER LAKES REGION in upper New York state, Hilarie Lambert enjoyed a long, successful career as an illustrator and graphic designer, both in the corpo-rate world and as a freelancer. After moving to Charles-ton 20 years ago, she made the leap from commercial art to fine art. In a community that thrives on art and fosters its creative talent, she soon found herself in a new career.
As she began exploring her new community, Lambert joined up with other artists to paint in each other’s homes once a week. “Studio space was rare, and we were all getting started on the road to becoming professional painters,” she says. “Soon we were all going out with other artists, painting this beautiful landscape of the Lowcountry en plein air. Coming from the North, and working inside all day, Charleston was a welcome change, and I started developing my own style.”
Now free to follow her muse, a contemporary impressionist began emerging, and Lambert painted whatever caught her eye. She also found her favorite medium—oils—which inspired her now recognizable style. Lambert lays down paint using quick, strong brushstrokes, usually with generous amounts of paint, layering her work with color and texture. Her style gives viewers a definite sense of the artist’s hand and her vision at work in each piece.
Sometimes her paintings are created tongue in cheek, with her sense of humor evident in the titles and gestures of the figurative pieces. Other times, Lambert’s work has a much more traditional and classic feel while still revealing her signature flair.
“I think my graphic design background is likely why my subject matter is so diverse,” explains Lambert. “From coastal scenes and notable architecture to wildlife, still lifes and figurative, nothing is safe. I love
the whole process of putting paint down and erasing it. Then putting it down again, capturing the shadows and light, making it very complex. I think a brushstroke should always say exactly what it needs to say.
“I just paint what I love. I believe that if I paint what I love, others will love it, too.”
In addition to her private studio/gallery on James Island, open to interested art patrons by request, Lambert’s contemporary impressionism is on display at the City Art Gallery located in Greenville, North Carolina, as well as her online gallery. She is an enthusiastic participant in Charleston’s annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, and she participated for 12 years in the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition, winning the first-place award in 2018. It is one among many awards Lambert has received for her work, both nationally and internationally.
Most days, Lambert can be found working on commissions or her most recent plein air painting, sometimes in the company of other artists, other times alone—on a street corner or countryside in Charleston or Paris or Provence—wherever the sun rises to create the light and shadows that always define her work.
“Whether working at home or abroad, I’m always striving to be the best painter I can be,” says Lambert. “I’m so grateful for the life I get to lead, and that I work in this community with so many other wonderful artists. It really is a dream come true.”
Patra Taylor is a full-time freelance writer who lives in Mount Pleasant.