2016 Equine Series – “Fly Masks”
This week I’m both proud and tad nervous to share something a little different with you: the beginnings of a new series of work called “Fly Masks.”
First, a note on what may initially look like blindfolded horse paintings…
Fly masks, though odd looking things, actually help protect the horse’s face and ears from pesky, biting, disease spreading flies and insects. Especially in the summer months.
If you know how annoying one or two flies buzzing around your face can be, imagine if you had no hands to wave one hundred flies away, and you get an idea of what a horse might go through, sans mask.
And if you happen to be wondering, just like I was, the answer is yes—the horse can indeed see through them because they’re made of mesh.
I’m using the masks here as a more universal symbol for protecting oneself from excessive, outside “irritants and distractions.” Something that helps invite small doses of calm and focus into one’s life.
These pieces were also born out of a much bigger artistic gauntlet I recently threw down in the studio…
A few weeks ago, I challenged myself to completely leave the comfort and familiarity of doing detailed animal eyes and faces, and attempt to create an animal portrait that was (hopefully) still compelling.
I basically removed what I’ve been told is the heart of my work for the last 15 years—the animal’s expression—to see what developed in it’s place.
No biggie. Just a little artistic terror.
But that’s exactly why I did it. It’s become crystal clear to me that the only way to grow as an artist is to continually push myself outside the line of what I know. Even though the urge to scurry back into the familiar is a weirdly strong one.
So I’m proud of this work precisely because I resisted that urge.
Here are the first three pieces from my first painting series in over a decade. Hope you enjoy them…
Untitled 1 (Purple mask): 33″ x 54″ | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
DETAIL – “Untitled 1 (Purple mask)”
Untitled 2 (Blue mask): 51″ x 46″ | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
DETAIL – Untitled 2 (Blue mask) | aimeehoover.com
Untitled 3 (Acid Green Mask): 50″ x 50″ | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
A few more pieces are in the works. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, the next round will be sent straight to your inbox.
Thanks so much for reading,
“Sunday II” (Dog paws) | 2016 | 24″ x 24″ | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
Even though I moved away from commissioned dog portraits a while back, canine subjects keep popping up in my paintings. Lately I’m interested in loosening up my brushwork, and I like the idea of using a familiar subject when experimenting with a new style.
This piece was painted in a style called “alla prima.”
In Italian, alla prima means “first attempt.” It usually involves painting in oils (which I don’t use) from life rather than a photo (which I don’t do) using a “wet-on-wet” technique.
Detail – “Sunday II” (Dog paws) | 2016 | 24″ x 24″ | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
Wet-on-wet just means that you push the paint around while it’s wet, and finish the painting in one sitting—you don’t wait for a layer to dry, then go back in later and paint another layer on top of it.
This technique is not really meant for acrylic painters like myself because acrylics dry crazy fast. Unless you can complete a painting in 10 minutes, wet-on-wet doesn’t really exist. It’s more like wet-on-somewhat tacky. Which can result in a big muddy mess. This is especially true if you paint large works and have to cover a lot of square footage.
A normal, intelligent artist who likes how alla prima paintings look would probably say to herself, “You know, I really like how those alla prima paintings look. I’m going to buy some small tubes of oil paint and try to paint a flower from life.”
But I sort of pride myself on being abnormal so I thought I’d take a crack at it with acrylics.
This technique requires even oil painters to work quickly, so it forced me to paint insanely fast. But I’m learning more and more that painting at high speeds tends to make my work stronger because there’s just no time to deliberate or waver. Consequentially, the choices I end up making while painting come from my gut and not my head. Which is my goal in perpetuity.
I would guess that there are more “faux” alla prima paintings in my future as I’m finding myself a little hooked on the process…
This is a portrait of a rescue horse named Jake, who lives at Rancho Relaxo animal sanctuary…
“Jake” | June 2016 | 25″ x 40″ | Acrylic on drafting film | Available | aimeehoover.com
I’m really enjoying work on Mylar as a support (surface) lately. It forces me to work very quickly which seems to result make my work stronger. The quicker I paint, the more decisions come from my gut and not my head. Always a good thing.
If you’re interested in this painting, a portion of the proceeds will go to Jake’s non-profit home, Rancho Relaxo, to help them care for their animals.
“Black Panther” | 25″ x 40″ | Acrylic on Mylar | 2016 | aimeehoover.com
I’ve been experimenting with painting on matte Mylar lately. Matte Mylar is a basically a sheet of semi-transparent plastic, typically used as drafting film.
Painting on this surface requires that I work VERY quickly, as the drying time seems to be cut in half.
Face Detail – “Black Panther” | 25″ x 40″ | Acrylic on Mylar | 2016 | aimeehoover.com
Right now I’m trying to get away from tightly rendered paintings that record every little detail, and move towards more painterly, gestural work—with smaller pockets of more refined brushwork. Working quickly aids me in this quest because the paint drying time sort of precludes working at the slower speed all that detail requires. But it allows me enough time to still work in a realistic style…just not straight up “realism.”
In the studio: “Black Panther” | 25″ x 40″ | Acrylic on Mylar | 2016 | aimeehoover.com
Mylar also forces me out of my own head…where all my little negative, judge-y thoughts live, since there’s no time to second gest myself. Always a good thing.
Definitely looking forward to doing more of these Mylar pieces. Here’s an approximation of the piece’s size in a room (would require a frame):
This original artwork is available for purchase at Saatchiart.com.
Thanks for looking,
**Update June 2016 – This piece has sold.**
In the studio with the 4 portrait line up
What does an former dog portrait artist say when she’s asked to create custom dog paintings for a restaurant?
She says yes!
Especially when 1.) the client happens to be awesome, 2.) I get to paint from fantastic images by renowned pet photographer Amanda Jones, and 3.) the request is for multiple, large-format paintings…so it’s like creating a mini body of work.
I’ve also always wanted to do custom work for a restaurant. And on a personal note, it turned out that my client, Jennifer, went to the exact high school I would have gone to had my family stayed in Michigan and not moved to California the summer before I hit 9th grade.
What are the odds?
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance when the opportunity came my way.
Here are the four portraits, with some detailed pics to give you a sense of their size…
Portrait #1: “Roo”
“Roo” | 2016 | 58in x 48in | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
Detail of “Roo” | aimeehoover.com
Super close-up eye detail of “Roo” | aimeehoover.com
Portrait #2: “Dixie”
“Dixie” (Black Labrador) | 2016 | 58in x 48in | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
Face detail of “Dixie” (Black Labrador) | aimeehoover.com
Eye detail of “Dixie” (Black Labrador) | aimeehoover.com
Portrait #3: “Emma”
“Emma” (Rhodesian Ridgeback) | 2016 | 52in x 45in | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
Detail of “Emma” (Rhodesian Ridgeback) | aimeehoover.com
Super close-up eye detail of “Emma” (Rhodesian Ridgeback) | aimeehoover.com
And portrait #4: “Spike”
“Spike” (Boston Terrier) | 2016 | 52in x 45in | Acrylic on canvas | aimeehoover.com
Detail of “Spike” (Boston Terrier) | aimeehoover.com
Super close-up eye detail of “Spike” | aimeehoover.com
Once the pieces were completed, off they went to Michigan in a giant 218lb crate…
All my work goes safely or it doesn’t go at all
Here’s what my client had to say when the paintings finally landed safely in Michigan…
Aimée – OMG My sister just called. She said that the portraits EXCEEDED everyone’s expectations! And that they instantly transformed the vibe of the restaurant! I think the sizes are perfect and the amount of “color” is just right. I will send more pics as I receive them. SO relieved and actually a bit emotional that your outstanding work is such an obvious success for the restaurant. Your work is done here, but it will be living strong in Michigan!!!! Thank you, thank you again. – Jennifer
I hope to get the chance to paint more work for restaurants as the experience was so great all around.
In the meantime, if you find yourself in Michigan you can check out the pieces in person at Tucker’s of Northport (Northport, MI).
Thanks for your support & interest in my work, and have a great week…