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'Why I blame my Husband and my Brother for my current Art Style' Part 1

Updated: Sep 8, 2019

My current style is unique. Two people in my life challenged me to get to this point, my Brother and my Husband. Here’s the story…

The first time I really started painting was at university, studying my Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Painting. Before this I had mostly been a drawer, lots of charcoal and graphite. My interest lay in portraiture and creating a perfect likeness.

George Clooney Portrait in Charcoal 2009. Nic Hutchins aka NickyOlive

The perfection and portraits continued through art school, but my interest also veered off into still life. I really enjoyed acrylic paint, had a moment with stencils and spray paint, and finished the degree with oil paint. While I fell completely in love with colour theory, I used it subtly and to create perfect replicated of my reference images.

Solemates IV 2011 acrylic on canvas Nic Hutchins aka NickyOlive

Fast forward a couple of years and my brother hit me up with a request - “A big brightly coloured kookaburra.” He even sent me some images of another artist he had seen and was hoping I could achieve something similar. I had 4 problems with his request, firstly, I don’t do animals, secondly, I don’t do bright colours, thirdly, I’m not going to directly copy another artist’s work and finally we lived 25+ hours apart and a big canvas was going to be a problem. I remember being a little annoyed with the request, but after thinking on it for awhile, and a little research into other artists for some inspiration I decided I’d take on the challenge.

Of the 4 problems, an animal wasn’t too scary, I could do that, there were lots of images online I could use as a reference, and I could do my own thing stylistically rather than directly copy the other artist. For the size issue, my brother and I decided I would create the painting and photograph it, and send him a digital file which he could then get printed on to canvas as big as he liked. Which left my biggest challenge of how to do the colour and the new issue of creating a painting that would look good printed.

In order to get a print to look like it might be a painting, I realised I need some good texture on the page, something that would create the illusion of depth when printed. Previously though, my paintings did not have texture outside the texture of the canvas, I liked to paint very thinly, in lots of layers for a flat seamless finish. I did however own some pallet knives, and thought this could be my opportunity to try painting with them rather than just mixing the paint. Nice thick acrylic paint scrapped on, would definitely create the texture I was looking for.

And lastly the colour challenge. I believe I have blocked out a lot of the early efforts of getting bright colours onto the kookaburra, but many a coloured pencil was sharpened. Looking at my current work it might be hard to believe but the placement of the bright colours are an effort, it isn’t just a matter of slapping the colours down. All my love for colour theory comes in to each colour and where it is placed, and what shouldn’t be coloured at all. Back with this challenge though, I wasn’t yet ready for negative space and the whole kookaburra was coloured and the twisted branch it sat on. I’m proud of the final painting, it was without a doubt one of the most challenging works I’ve completed and it pushed me into a whole new possible direction. (You might also notice I have used this reference image again to create "Bazza" which you can see being created in videos, or purchase in the shop.)

Kookaburra 2015 acrylic on paper Nic Hutchins aka NickyOlive

Still, it was a few years yet when I would be challenged again and I would take what I learnt here and push it further to where I am today.

Story continues in part two of ‘Why I blame my Husband and my Brother for my current Art Style’

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