I'm a curious type; I like to know what informs an artist. Who or what do they look to for inspiration? How do they work? Each month I will be asking an artist I admire a few questions, this month is Kathy Hutton.
Kathy, I've been following your work for some years now, you seem to be able to turn your hand to so many printmaking techniques with beautiful results. What method of printmaking is your favourite and why?
I love to use different printing techniques depending on the feel that I want to achieve and I often end up using multiple techniques in one print, however if I had to choose my absolute favourite technique it would be the mono-printed line (sometimes called a mono-trace).
It’s due to this technique that I feel happy drawing and have a confidence in my lines. It sounds strange but it’s both unforgiving and forgiving at the same time! I’m drawing directly into the black ink so there is nowhere to hide, you can’t erase the marks once made so you just have to be brave. With a pencil on paper I dither, I use far too many lines and they have no confidence. But with this technique I’m forced to choose a line and go with it! It sounds terrifying but actually I find it completely freeing.
At the same time, the paper is also picking up little accidental marks and smudges from the ink, these add character to the drawing in a way that cannot be controlled. These little quirks are part of the forgiving nature and are what makes each and every drawing unique.
It’s also a completely instant technique, which can’t be said for many printing techniques that often involve preparation in different stages. With a mono print as you are drawing, you are creating the print there and then; for someone like me who is a little impatient, this is a real treat! As I’m drawing I’m concentrating only on the item I’m drawing and so in that moment I feel very connected. Linking eye and hand with a pencil and a bit of ink!
Nature appears to be your biggest source of inspiration, what is it about recording nature that appeals to you?
I’ve become fascinated by the natural things growing around my home, in the fields and lanes beyond our garden. The more I look, the more I see. It’s become a bit of an obsession and through it I’ve become much more aware of the changing seasons and their effects. I’m especially interested in the everyday; fallen leaves, seed heads and berries.
I thought that in the midst of winter I would struggle to find inspiration, but actually I find these quieter months are full of fallen treasure ready to be pocketed and brought home to be studied further. In the summer when there is so much competing, I have to work harder to be still and for my eye to notice the little things I seek.
The beauty of nature is that it’s constantly changing so if you keep looking you will always find something of inspiration and you never have to travel far.
You are based in Wiltshire, does the area local to you influence your work at all?
I love living in Wiltshire with its proximity to open countryside and urban cultural areas (which I’m aware I’m not making the most of at the moment with my youngest daughter still being so young). I’m very lucky to live nearby to our National Arboretum which is a constant source of inspiration and great for getting the children involved in finding treasures.
However as I tend to draw inspiration from the little details rather than the overall landscape, I’m happy exploring fields, mountains and coastline wherever I find myself. My children sometimes get impatient with me when we're off exploring and have been known to shout ‘stop looking at nature’ if I dally behind too long!
Tell me about your studio or creative space.
I’m very lucky to have a studio space at home. It’s fairly large and has big windows on 3 sides so it feels light and airy. It used to have pink carpet, pink rag-rolled walls with pink satin curtains but thankfully now it has a simple painted concrete floor and white walls that are perfect for hanging prints on or just taping up any works in progress. I don’t have any big printing equipment, just a couple of big reclaimed work tables that can be moved around depending on what I’m using them for, allowing me to change the space for workshops or open studios as and when I need to. The space kind of evolves as I go along. I’d love to have a drying rack so I’m keeping my eyes peeled for one as currently I need every bit of table top and floor space I can get to lay out prints between their different drying stages.
You run printmaking workshops from your beautiful home studio, is teaching your craft to others important to you?
I love teaching my workshops. I have such a passion for printing that it’s great to share this with others. One of my favourite things is to watch their reaction as they peel back their prints and see them for the first time, it really is a special moment. I love being able to show someone a technique that they can carry on at home. And I’m constantly learning; everyone that comes in my studio brings another view point, another experience, a question that gets me thinking. When you work on your own a lot, this interaction with others is invaluable. At the end of a workshop I will always come away with fresh ideas.
What artists (living or dead) inspire you?
From a very young age the simple pared back line work of Dick Bruna made a big impact on me, he was a master of perfecting the minimal line. Growing up we had some Mid-Winter pottery at home which I always loved and later on I became more aware of my love of ceramics, both their shapes and surface patterns. I’m especially drawn to the designs created by Jessie Tate and Terrance Conran and the textile designs of Lucienne Day, simplified motifs, use of repeating lines and scratchy marks. I also have a huge love of the open, negative space and simple form found in William Scott’s work. Last year I discovered the beautiful paintings of Rachel Nicolson, her pared down still life’s featuring favourite ceramic pieces are beautiful.
I love learning random facts about people, tell me something about yourself.
When I first moved from London to Wiltshire, a scary 16 years ago now, I enrolled on an evening class to learn quilt-making, anyone who has seen me at a sewing machine will think this a very unsuitable art-form for me! However, I think I’m drawn to the bold blocks of colour and simple compositions especially when applied in a less rigid format. If you’re familiar with the incredible work produced by the quilters of Gee’s Bend, you will know what I mean.
You never know, one of these day I might actually finish a quilt of my own!
Finally, where can people follow your work online?
Kathy Hutton Prints on Etsy
@kathyhuttonprints on Instagram
@hutton1kathy on Twitter
Kathy Hutton Prints on Facebook
kathyhutton1 on Pinterest
Thank you to Kathy for taking part in my artist interview series. I adore Kathy's use of line and am highly envious of her beautiful studio. Kathy sells her work on her Etsy store and teaches workshops at her studio. Please click the following links to learn more: Kathy Hutton Online Shop / Kathy Hutton Print Workshops.
If you'd like to take part in my artist interviews series then please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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