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Artist Interview: Amanda Hukill

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Q&A With The Artist

Artist Interview: Amanda Hukill

What are your ear­li­est mem­o­ries relat­ed to art?
When I was in the 2nd grade my best friends mom came to our school to teach an art class. She was an artist. She instruct­ed us to pic a pic­ture to draw for the fair pos­si­bly. I select­ed a wolf pic­ture. I remem­ber her telling me it was too advanced a pic­ture for me, but I was deter­mined. I loved ani­mals and I want­ed to draw the wolf. She con­sent­ed to let me and to her sur­prise I did pret­ty good. She then asked to take my piece to the fair where I won a rib­bon. She encour­aged me to draw and said I had nat­ur­al tal­ent. I began to draw any­thing and every­thing. It was­n’t uncom­mon for me to rent library pic­ture books and draw every pic­ture in the books. Par­tic­u­lar­ly hors­es and big cats. They were flashy and always caught my eye.

How and when did you start becom­ing an artist yourself?
I began to paint in 2011.. I had not drawn in many years and a friend asked me if I could make a paint­ing. He was an acquain­tance from my genet­ics work with long­tail fowl and the preser­va­tion of japan­ese ona­gadori. My liv­ing art as I called them were genet­ic col­or cre­ations bring­ing new col­ors and styles of birds into the show are­na. There was a well known artist who was famous for his col­ored draw­ings of birds and con­sid­ered to be very good. He was how­ev­er too busy to do the piece so I decid­ed I could prob­a­bly do it. So I eager­ly decid­ed to try my best. Remem­ber, I could draw , but I was no painter. LOL. So I set out and came up with a pret­ty good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the breed and col­or he was striv­ing for. He was delight­ed and said it was even bet­ter than the oth­er man’s work. I then began to paint pic­tures of dif­fer­ent poul­try and ani­mals and do stan­dards of per­fec­tions. Peo­ple would see the work and ask me if I could make them some­thing. Lat­er I branched out into oth­er areas, carv­ing, water­col­ors, ink, pyrog­ra­phy, etc.. I am even under­tak­ing mak­ing a beau­ti­ful wood burned elk table right now.

What was the evo­lu­tion like toward find­ing your cur­rent voice and visu­al vocabulary?
Ini­tial­ly, it was all about mak­ing the cus­tomer hap­py. But I quick­ly learned that what some­one sees in their mind and what is pleas­ing to the eye is some­times not the same. Some ideas were good and some were not. I found myself doing paint­ings that I real­ly did­n’t enjoy and would refuse com­mis­sions if they did not set­tle well with me. I began to just paint what I liked. When I approached my first art gallery own­er, I had paint­ed a cou­ple paint­ings and I was want­i­ng him to give me a shot. He had nev­er had any­one in his gallery. It was a pri­vate gallery of just his own work. But he agreed to see my work. So I took him a pic­ture of my lions. It was a big pic­ture at 24 x 48 inch­es. I had real­ly enjoyed doing it. When he first saw it, he was pret­ty impressed and began to ques­tion me about my train­ing. I had none up until this point. He then agreed to let me put my art in his gallery. He explained to me that because I had worked so exclu­sive­ly with ani­mals I would­n’t be able to prob­a­bly draw peo­ple. He had always focused on peo­ple. Well, that real­ly pushed me to fig­ure out where this would go and what I was capa­ble of. I then began to paint indi­ans which went with his theme in the gallery. And quick­ly I devel­oped a real knack for it. I would paint and try to relay mean­ings or prin­ci­ples. Using expres­sion in the hors­es faces on “Buf­fa­lo Hunt” for instance. Putting hid­den mean­ings into my art and hop­ing it made some­one think, or brought them joy became my new pur­pose. It was about mak­ing mem­o­ries for some. Com­mis­sions of lost loved ones, or lost pets that they just want­ed to remem­ber fond­ly. All imper­fec­tions could be paint­ed out, leav­ing only the beau­ti­ful mem­o­ry and thus bring­ing joy and clo­sure to those left behind. Art had begun to have mean­ing. I am cur­rent­ly illus­trat­ing a book. I admit illus­tra­tion is so for­eign to me. But the abil­i­ty to bring a char­ac­ter to life and con­vey morals into the lives of chil­dren, that feels good, real good. The only thing left when we have lived this life is that last­ing impres­sion we have made on the hearts and lives of oth­ers. That’s what’s so spe­cial about art. It lives on and on, cre­at­ing that last­ing endur­ing impres­sion of the prin­ci­ples we stand for.

What is your process like?
I love to learn. So for me it was first and fore­most about learn­ing to get the desired result. I stud­ied old mas­ters, I learned their tech­niques and I did my own thing. I remem­ber a fel­low artist ask­ing me once what I was doing and I said paint­ing my can­vas black.. He thought I was a bit crazy. But as I paint­ed a large corn field with pheas­ants in it, I would paint black stalks into the paint­ing, work­ing it back­wards with the shad­ows first and build­ing it out from there to the lighter col­ors. Just like it would be done in nature. The dark­ness is first and then the light shines upon it and it begins to take form. I have learned to use my acrylics like water­col­ors and also make them look like oils. Keep­ing the pal­let wet. The most impor­tant thing I have found is that lay­er­ing things goes along way. Don’t be afraid to paint the paint­ing over itself and nev­er rush say­ing it’s fin­ished. I love details so I am guilty of paint­ing with one or two hairs in the brush and mak­ing minia­tures. It’s a part of who I am. For fun I throw in pic­tures of quar­ters, a pen­cil, or a pen so peo­ple can see how hard it is but that it can be done.

Is there any­thing from your artist state­ment that you wish to expound on, that you nor­mal­ly don’t have the chance to discuss?
I am always learn­ing new tech­niques and fig­ur­ing out how to do some­thing. Get­ting an idea from your head to can­vas isn’t always easy but with hard work and deter­mi­na­tion, any­thing can be done. I believe deeply in God and his abil­i­ty to let us be cre­ators just as He is a cre­ator. For me it is impor­tant to remem­ber that your art is a part of you. It’s your way of shar­ing what you have inside with oth­ers. I deeply appre­ci­ate nature and all the beau­ty around us. I pray that my art helps oth­ers to also appre­ci­ate it and puts a smile on their faces. It’s more than a gift to me, it’s my gift to all of you. And please don’t for­get.… Art should be fun. I want to share a copy of this pic­ture because it was one I sat down and made up out of my head. I have had so many prints of this orig­i­nal sold and it is some­thing that I just felt one after­noon and decid­ed to roll with it. If you are an artist, you are an artist for a rea­son. Don’t waste it. Do what you are made to do. I can’t express what it feels like to google war pony and have your image appear as the num­ber one image.

What do you try to con­trol in your sur­faces, and what do you leave to chance?
I usu­al­ly try to con­trol the details of the main sub­ject, but I like to let the medi­um decide what the back­ground turns out like. I try to work with it, rather than it do what I want. The beau­ty of the dif­fer­ent medi­ums to me is the dis­tinct char­ac­ter­is­tics of each and the abil­i­ty to apply them to cre­ate the hint of real­ism while let­ting the medi­um do it’s thing. I can con­trol what I put on the sur­face, but not always how the medi­um reacts to the sur­face. But in the real world, it is this ran­dom­ness and vari­a­tion that makes each piece beau­ti­ful and unique all on it’s own, just like each and every one of us. Nature isn’t real­ly con­trolled. It is estab­lished on prin­ci­ples. Cre­at­ing art is the same way. You know some medi­ums react dif­fer­ent and have dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics. The loose water­col­or in all it’s trans­paren­cy is just as beau­ti­ful as a well defined oil paint­ing. Some­times it’s what we are say­ing with our art, not so much what medi­um we are say­ing it with. I like to let the emo­tion I am in when I paint dic­tate how much or how lit­tle detail I use and whether it go into all the piece or just a hint here and there and you let your imag­i­na­tion do the rest. Some­times the hint of some­thing real is all it takes! On this piece I did a non­tra­di­tion­al thing and con­trolled my sub­ject but let the indi­an ink flow through on the back­ground. I con­trol it’s flow with a brush or I let it be ran­dom­ly seek it’s own pattern.

Where do you see your work going from here?
I would like to see my work cir­cu­lat­ed in more gal­leries. At one time I had Trail­side gallery agree­ing to eval­u­ate my work for 6 months. They are very nice gallery. Unfor­tu­nate­ly life cir­cum­stances pre­vent­ed me from being able to con­tin­ue with my art at that time. They have been a goal of mine as I appre­ci­ate real­ism more than the abstract. I have had sev­er­al paint­ings made into geo caching coins and cir­cu­lat­ed all over the world. That was real­ly fun. I can see my art tak­ing off and I have had offers to sell art at wildlife pre­serves or work with orga­ni­za­tions. I would like to con­tin­ue my art career and see how far it can go. I believe It only gets bet­ter the more I do and I believe I can be a suc­cess­ful wildlife artist in the near future.

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