Amanda Hukill says whatever gift she has comes from within. It is her ‘God given gift’ to put things on canvas. Early on, before any contact with style or conventional techniques, her expressions in the various mediums of art drew attention to that gift. With no formal art training, her style excels in a rich, vibrant expression of the world around us. When she enjoys and deeply connects with a presented subject, something inside of her meshes with the medium and she simply ‘puts her heart on the canvas’ , opening up the world of creation in a way you have never seen before.
Her first memory of an experience in the world of art was in the second grade. Her best friend’s mother was an art instructor and she had come to the small town public school to teach an art class. Challenged by the visiting artist, Amanda was encouraged to select a photo and draw it.. She carefully selected a beautiful wolf as she was custom to nature and loved the outdoors growing up in the country on a small farm in central Texas. Upon completing her suggested task, to her surprise, the instructor asked to take her drawing to the state fair and enter it.. Amanda would then win her first ribbon at the state fair. The instructor encouraged Amanda and informed her she had a ‘special gift’ with art. This started a love affair with putting things on canvas.
From that time on, Amanda began to draw everything around her. It was not uncommon for her to sit in the farmyard for hours on end drawing the goats, or other animals as they frolicked, played, and simply reveled their true natures. She even entered 6 pieces in the state fair through her local art instructor and was able to secure 6 first place ribbons. In 2011 Amanda was presented with a unique opportunity. Having studied genetics for many years on long tail fowl, she was approached by another breeder who had heard she could draw. He asked her if she could do a painting for him of a prospected breed. This is a breed that isn’t set yet but is in the breeding process of being developed. There was a well known artist who had done many of these paintings but was too busy at the time so Amanda rose to the occasion. Upon completion of the task at hand she submitted the painting to the fellow breeder. To his delight, It was better than the renown artist’s pieces in his words. From there Amanda’s art took off. She entered a local art show and took best of show and reserved best of show several years in a row.
That was when Amanda really started to dabble with all mediums. She appreciated the different styles and techniques that presented themselves in the art world and began to fearlessly tackle harder and harder tasks. She would push her abilities to their limits doing things she had never tried before. She began to sell paintings all over the United States and even Europe. Having collectors fly in to pick up pieces or see them in person was exciting and brought such joy to her. She would get emails from all over the world of people being touched by her gift.
Recently, Amanda moved back to her small town where she grew up for most of her childhood. She is currently working on animal preservation and much of her art reflects those efforts. She has been featured in a magazine, and was heavily publicized locally, having entire galleries devoted to just her work. She has worked donating use of her works to organizations such as the Texas Department of Wildlife in efforts to preserve pronghorn antelope for instance. Amanda continues to press into new fields and mediums, taking on carving, and pyrography. The real joy comes from seeing what she will come up with next.
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.