Wednesday, April 13, 2011

in the studio with hannah j

As I mentioned on Monday, I had a very inspiring visit with artist Hannah J this past weekend. She took me into her studio, walked me through her painting process and poured through years worth of art school projects that truly got my creative juices flowing. Her work speaks for itself, and her passion simply beams through her words about art. Here is our interview:

Lola: What inspires you to create art?

Hannah: Lots of things inspire my art creation.  Currently, I am working on a series of multimedia leaf print/paintings. This series was initially inspired by leaf prints that I noticed on the sidewalks two autumns ago while walking with my children.  That started off my initial curiosity with replicating the process of the prints. The under drawing and color scheme of each painting in this series is inspired by something different.  Some are inspired by a mood, a feeling or a fleeting thought, but most are inspired by something that I see- the way a leaf attaches to a branch, a special tree, a landscape, interesting lines or shapes in the world around me.

LolaHow did you get started painting? What was that experience like?

Hannah: I knew I would be an artist in the 7th grade.  I have a very vivid memory of deciding I was going to paint- taking a piece of paper and an old crayola watercolor set from our "art closet" and sitting in our backyard and painting a juniper tree that still grows there today (it's now 30 feet tall!). I occasionally take that painting out- YES I still have it- to remind me of where I started. I think that it's in my personality to decide I'm going to do things and obsess over them. I became obssessed with painting. Painting gave me a freedom of expression that I hadn't had before. I was a disorganized and difficult child- and the effect that becoming an artist had on my life was pretty dramatic.  It became a way for me to release stress and organize my thoughts while I created.  It still has that role in my life. 

Lola: What would you say to someone who is interested in being a career artist?

Hannah: While in college, I remember a professor saying that in order to be an abstract artist you first have to master realism. It took me a while to see the accuracy in that statement. To me, creating art is about training your eyes and mind to recreate what you see- once you understand how to do that, you have the freedom to create your own voice as an artist.

Beyond that, I think that art motivates people for different reasons. I feel like, if you have the motivation to create then you should, by all means, CREATE!

Lola: Do you ever have moments of doubt about your art work or your talent? If so, what do you do to push past this? 

HannahFor me- painting has always been something that I just do.  I feel a sense of release and satisfaction when I create-it is something that I need to do to stay sane. My motivation comes from within and I try not to let anyone else change that motivation.  It is wonderful when people feel a connection to my art work, and are interetsed in my process (which I could prattle on about for hours), but truly the joy I have in creating is for myself....anything else that comes from it is just extra. 

Lola: Do you do a lot of planning with your paintings? Or do you do a lot of improvising and painting without thinking too much?

Hannah: I have done series in the past that are a lot more realistic in style- those require more "planning," which usually invloves drawing out the preliminary composition.  I also tend to do a lot of research when I begin certain works, especially with my current mural work.  I will get books on the subject matter or do image searches so I have a realistic basis to inspire my creation.  Example: for the chinoiserie themed mural I did in our entryway, I referenced books on Chinese painting, as well as gardening books, and I also took pictures of plants that I wanted to inspire the design of the mural.  I typically create work that is inspired by realism, although my current series is fairly abstract....this series relies on a lot of taking chances, letting the paint "work" and move and being suprised when I go back to the painting every few days- it's a really fun process.  It excites me to see how the painting evolves over time.

Lola: Any advice to new painters out there?

Hannah: Be yourself- be open to inspiration all around you, take chances, take classes, be around other artists, give and get critiques, read art books, visit museums, and let your inspiration guide you.

Thank you Hannah!

Some more info on Hannah J:

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