An Interview with Carolyn Hancock - Artists of Texas
How old were you when you realized you were an “artist”?
I was 52 when someone commented that, “it’s nice to have a hobby.” I replied that it is not a hobby, that I consider art to be the same as my husband’s work; it’s my job. That was my first realization that I am an artist.
Who or what inspired you as you to make art in the beginning?
An advertising campaign recognizing national artists with a full page reproduction of Rodrique’s Blue Dog. I blurted out to my husband that, “I can do that.” Stated out loud, I now had to do it. I used pastel to paint an 8x10 copy of that ad; my husband framed that not-so-good painting and hung it in a prominent place in our home. Through the years he has been my constant supporter.
What is your background in art?
My first step as an artist turned out to be the best. Mission Renaissance in Los Angeles gave me sound instruction in the fundamentals of drawing and value, which remain the basis of my painting. Daniel Greene videos, workshops with other pastel artists that I admire, constant study, and many struggling hours of painting round out my background.
What role do you feel an artist has in society?
An artist should create beauty and emotion.
Do you have a vision or a reason for the art you create?
My vision is always to paint the reality of a person, candid, unposed, leaving a little mystery.
What part of you do you see in your artwork?
In my portrait and figurative work, I look for a connection or memory between the subject and me, a feeling, and I try to paint that emotion. It usually comes through in the eyes, but sometimes I find it in the gesture of the person.
How do you know when your art if complete or finished?
There’s a moment when my hand no longer wants to reach for a color. My eyes scan the painting and accept everything they see. That’s when I know to stop.
Today, who has had the greatest influence on your work?
The artist who first influenced me was Daniel Greene. His method of drawing made sense to me. Although I now try to be a more painterly artist, Greene’s method is still my basis.
Name three artists you would like to be compared to.
Mary Cassat and Daniel Greene for figurative work and Bob Rohm for landscapes.
What is your artistic medium of choice? Why?
Pastel has always been my only medium. It was the first medium I was introduced to and, for its beauty, the only one I have ever tried. Because I liked it, I decided at the beginning to focus on the one medium and get good at it rather than do a little of everything.
Whose work do you relate to most? Who inspire you?
At this time, I am inspired by the looseness of Alain Picard in figurative work and Barbara Jaenicke in landscapes.
What food, drink or song inspires you or gets your creative juices flowing?
I am a quiet zone painter, no music or food. However, I am doing a series of paintings with the composition based on the storyline of classic country/western songs. In those, lines of the song run through my mind while painting.
Has your art evolved or changed in the past ten years? If so, how?
What are your strengths and weakness?
My art has evolved mainly due to the line of sanded papers that are now offered and the different manufacturers of pastel. Sanded papers allow me to build up layers of color and texture, and different pastel manufacturers have created varying degrees of softness and a tremendous range of colors and values not available 10 years ago. My strength is in the use of unexpected color combinations that read true and my weakness is in composition.
Do you have a favorite piece of art? (Please include image for the article.)
My favorite painting is Eyes to the Future, the left panel of a triptych. It’s a heart tugger, boys of the Samburu tribe of the Maasai Mara, from a trip to Kenya.
Do you find the artistic Life lonely? How do you counteract the solitude?
It’s not lonely; it’s a wonderful feeling of being into a painting, a mood. The solitude gets broken by interaction with clients and other artists. I am president of the Pastel Society of Southeast Texas and am a member of the Art League of Fort Bend. Both groups have excellent programs and active artists. I design and create websites and enjoy meeting with clients and seeing their expression when their dream website goes online. I also give presentations on website and social media, boldly named “Let ‘em know you are an artist.”
If you could picture yourself 5 or 10 years from now, where would you be and what would you be doing?
If dreams came true, in 5 or 10 years, I would be in an immersion-based atelier, focused only on learning and painting.
What is the best piece of advice you could give to an artist just getting started?
The best advice comes from my own beginning: Take the time to learn to draw, to get proportions right, “where is this in relation to that.” Learn values. And photograph every painting.
Getting to know you Q&A
How long have you lived in Texas? 16 years
Where in Texas do you live now? Richmond, 20 miles west of Houston
What is your favorite restaurant in Texas? The Aquarium, downtown Houston
What color is your bedroom? A medium neutral that blends with soft warm pinks but works with muted gray-green.
What book are you reading this week? The Invention of Wings
Do you have a favorite television show or movie? Blue Bloods
What is your favorite color? What color do you avoid? Turquoise; orange
What are you most proud of in your life? Relationship with and learning from my husband
What has been your most embarrassing moment? I try to avoid this.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist? Secretary, Office Assistant, General Contractor/renovation, website design
Do you have a passion or hobby other than painting? What is it? Golf
Who would you love to portray in Mixed Media or in paint? Leonardo daVinci
If you were stranded on the Texas Prairie and could only take three things, what would they be? Pastel, paper, book
If you could live anywhere in Texas, where would you live? Hill Country
Share something with us that few people know about you. I don’t watch scary shows
Name something you love and why. My handwoven rugs, with their beautiful intricate detail, color and design.
Describe yourself in one word.
I first wrote “competent,” then asked my husband. He said, “tenacious.”
What is the one thing you would like to be remembered for? Connecting with people.