Jane Hunt is an oil painter based in Colorado. After she moved from the UK to the USA, she received a BFA in Illustration from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Since working as an illustrator for several years, Hunt has returned to her true love: oil landscape painting, and she frequently paints en plein air. Hunt’s works have won over 200 awards and are shown in galleries and museums across the world.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and your practice?
I’m originally from England and moved to the USA as a teenager. I intended to be a medical illustrator, but after a harrowing first visit to the morgue, I quickly switched to traditional illustration! After a few years working as a freelance illustrator, I finally followed my dream of being a full-time fine artist. Plein air painting is an important piece of my process – I practice it regularly, and find that it hugely influences my studio work.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist, and do you remember what your first experience of art was?
It’s been my focus for as long as I can remember. I was always in trouble at school for ‘doodling’ and dreamily staring out the window. My parents had a print of Monet’s Wild Poppies near Argenteuil on our wall throughout my childhood. No matter which country we were living in, or how difficult life got, I could disappear into that painting and feel at home. That experience gave me a deep understanding of how powerfully healing art can be.
Can you tell us about the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
I have been lifted up by so many artists, and that’s made me a huge advocate of giving back. By far my most exciting and important project has allowed me to do just that. My online ‘Essentials Course’ is my way of putting everything important I learned at school and over 35 years of painting into a nutshell. It has allowed me to reach people in remote countries, and others who perhaps wouldn’t be able to afford going to a traditional art school. Nothing brings me greater joy than seeing students have an ‘aha’ moment. I believe that artists sharing their knowledge and their greatest breakthroughs can cut out decades of struggling for others.
What do you find exciting about the materials you use?
I find it really exciting to change people’s misconceptions about water miscible oil paints. My work is very much scrutinised in the public eye because of the awards I’ve won, and so people are routinely shocked to learn that I use water miscible oils and often will say something about them not being ‘real’ oils or that they thought they were for ‘amateur’ artists. I love educating people on this incredible medium; explaining that they are indeed real oils, and also that they are being increasingly used by professional and prominent artists. Healthier, eco-friendly products are very important to me, so I’m passionate about spreading the word about these paints.
Do you have a typical routine when you start a new piece or begin a day in the studio?
Preparation is incredibly important to me. I would say that 75% of my work has been done before I even put paint to canvas. I use a specific four-value thumbnail to conceptualise, design and create a balanced and pleasing composition. I also use plein air studies and colour theory notes to make sure that I am optimising my colour harmony. I find that the more careful preparation I do, the more loose and intuitive I can be during the painting stage.
What is your favourite tool in your studio and how do you use it? Do you have any studio hacks that you’d like to share?
I have a chart that I made of the elements and principles of art. The elements apply to visual components, i.e. shape, value, colour etc, and the principles refer to how those elements are used – for example balance, repetition, contrast and so on. It’s essential to both how I paint and how I teach. It allows me to systematically understand how my paintings can be improved. In terms of studio hacks, I built a cover for my palette which extends my paint workability. It’s essentially a wooden frame with clear plexiglass on top that fits snugly around my glass palette.
What inspires you and how do you stay motivated?
Bucolic, serene landscapes are the most inspiring to me. I’m hugely motivated by the serenity that paintings can bring, both in their creation, and to those who view them.
What’s the best thing about being an artist today?
Just how many people we can reach with our work nowadays. My posts on social media now reach millions. This can sometimes feel intimidating, but I largely see it as a positive. Because the main intention of my work is to share peace and hope, it is incredibly meaningful to hear feedback from all corners of the world that it’s doing just that.
Do you have one piece of advice for artists just starting out?
My biggest piece of advice would be to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Whether that refers to creating artwork, approaching galleries or feeling confident in your abilities, it’s an important piece of the process. If you keep moving forward despite the fear, it will naturally dissipate over time.
Are there any current or upcoming projects that you’d like to share?
I have some wonderful museum shows coming up that I’ve spent years working towards. In particular, though, I’m excited about my teaching. Whether it be online or in person, I love to help other artists envision and achieve their dreams.
All images are courtesy of the artist. Click here see more of Jane’s work.
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