by Debra Lawless
As a water sign, local artist Patricia Hopkins has always found herself drawn to the water, which is abundantly clear in her artwork. In her childhood years, Hopkins spent weekends and summers on the Cape. “I’ve always loved nature from an early age” says Hopkins. She describes the Cape as a nurturing environment for her to grow her love of nature and the calling to capture it. She first began experimenting with watercolor with the loving encouragement of her father who dabbled in watercolor himself. “The idea of color and water has always been fascinating for me” says Hopkins.
Drawn to further her art education, Hopkins took a few art classes at Hollins College in Virginia and entered in a Roanoke College art show, in which she won 1st prize for a drawing. She went on to flourish at the Museum of Fine Arts and The Art Institute of Boston. She graduated from the New England School of Art & Design with a special interest in illustration and design. She then joined the commercial art world as a mechanical artist and did illustrative work for about five years. After deciding to move to the Cape as an adult, she was once again in her ideal artistic environment. Hopkins began watercolor painting in 1990 and continued her growth as an artist by taking workshops. “The strongest influence as I was developing my style as an artist was my art teacher, Christie Velesig who I studied with for about eight years”, explains Hopkins. “I was lucky to have a really good teacher, she taught me all the tricks and ins and outs of watercolor.”
As a representational or realist-based artist, Hopkins begins her work by taking a photograph, “I try to find a subject or image using my camera that resonates with my inner sense of beauty, not necessarily the expected.” She sometimes takes more than one photograph of a subject from different perspectives and combines a certain area in one photograph with others to create her own interpretation. Hopkins continues her work with a drawing of the photograph, “the drawing is like the skeleton of the painting,” says Hopkins. She finds that this often takes the most time to complete, “I tend to be quite detailed, I’m the type of person who isn’t as loose of a painter as some. I’m a very methodical person, so after the drawing I’ll mix my colors before I put brush to paper; it’s a very planned process.”
Hopkins describes the selection of color as an alchemy, explaining, “It’s amazing when you mix certain colors together and the choices you have; I always make sure all my colors work together well.” The book Making Color Sing by Jeanne Dobie really inspired Hopkins when it came to the way she views color. Hopkins explains, “Dobie works with colors that are more transparent than pre-mixed, commercial colors. Some of her colors are more opaque. She has a way of mixing colors so that the end result is pure, and clean, and not muddy. This allows light to pass through to the white of the paper and causes the colors to glow. I have always liked the idea of having colors that are clean."
Over the years, Hopkins has exhibited her work in various galleries, participated in four national shows and given three one-woman shows in The Old Selectman’s Building in Barnstable. She has her own gallery, that doubles as a studio, in an old, historical barn of which she shares half with Christmas Joy in South Chatham. There, she sells her paintings, giclée prints and cards. Hopkins says, “When I’m painting I can shut off all the craziness in the world; I feel happy – peaceful.” - Christina Galt
See Hopkins’ work at The Hopkins Gallery, South Chatham, thehopkinsgallerystore.com
Firstly, a giclee print is basically a high quality fine-art digital print that has an interesting history. Graham Nash of the singing group, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, played a major role in its creation.
Graham was an avid photographer and collector of visual treasures. In the mid l980's Graham became interested in computers and began to scan and manipulate his photographic images on the computer screen. Graham could see the potential of using computer software to make digital prints of his work. ("Digital" means using numbers to represent something, which is what a computer does.) However, in those days photo labs hadn't figured out how to work from digital files to make a decent print.
Through his friends he made new connections in his search for a solution. There are important people who are intertwined in this process, but to keep it simple Iet's just mention a few. The search for a new way of image-making had been developing on both the East and West Coasts of the U.S. A printer called an IRIS had been developed by this time by a Boston-based company called IRIS Graphics. Steve Boulter, the West Coast sales rep made a big sale to The Walt Disney Company in Burbank. Boulter knew the color engineer, David Coons, who worked for Disney on the IRIS printer. Through his connections a meeting was arranged for Graham Nash to meet Coons who was helping Disney make the transition from traditional to digital animation. (Coons won an Academy Award in l992 for co-developing Disney's computer animation production system.) Soon Coons was printing Nash's images from the Iris printer onto thick D'Arches watercolor paper. Nash exhibited these prints, and his show was the world's first all-digitally printed, photographic fine art. He got rave reviews and later sold them at Sotheby's for $2.17 million.
Graham Nash soon bought an Iris printer and with his friends opened Nash Editions, which was the world's first all-digital printmaking studio..
"Meadow and Old Wagon" is an original watercolor painting. Artist, Patricia Hopkins would like to share some thoughts and feelings that were a part of its creation.
My cousin and I were on our way to go kayaking in Essex, Massachusetts. We passed some property which had belonged to a close friend of hers. In its heyday the family enjoyed beautiful views from the main house. Beyond their pastures were marshes and ocean with distant views of Hog Island. There were well-tended vegetable and flower gardens and a barn to house chicken, sheep, and horses. The wagon was a short distance from the barn.
The wagon was an enchanting sight, so we stopped and took some photographs. Apparently my cousin's friend used to put geraniums in the wagon in springtime, but now vines had taken over which added to its antiquity and charm. For me the scene evoked memories of bygone days.
The light played through the scene in an interesting way. In the foreground the grass and queen anne's lace were dappled with sunlight coming through the trees' canopy overhead. Then the wagon sat peacefully in an open area of bright sunlight, and behind in the woods there were streams of light coming through to the woods' floor.
The queen anne's lace was not in the original scene but was added to make the meadow more aesthetically pleasing and to help draw the viewer's eye into the painting.
A quick recap of my thoughts:
1. What an unusual and charming subject to paint.
2. The oldness of the wagon and the light in the scene were appealing.
3. A meadow must have Queen Anne's lace!
The image on the left is of artist, Patricia Hopkins' most recent watercolor painting, which is sold. So what is my process for getting inspiration for a painting? Well, it was late September years ago when, as I was passing by a hydrangea bush near my gallery, there was a sudden visual spark of colors that caught my interest. The area was somewhat hidden from direct sunlight, but the hydrangea blooms were in an amazing combination of colors. I rushed to get my camera and took 4 or 5 photos from different angles, all the while feeling awe and joy in having made such a beautiful find.
I often combine parts of my photos into a painting. The way the cool leaves went up to the right corner of light, which my camera caught for me in an abstract way, was a must for inclusion as was the back-lighting of the hydrangea and fern leaves in yellows and oranges.
The actual creation of this painting took several months. The drawing took the longest, but for me it is an important part of the process in determining the success of the finished painting. I use a 2H lead pencil, kneaded eraser, and watercolor paper. I use D'arches 300 lb. cold-pressed paper. I tend to work very wet and a heavy paper doesn't buckle as much.
The second step is my color-mixing with a brush, water and pigment. Usually I use around 7 Winsor & Newton colors in various combinations. I like to do this before I start to paint so that I know I have exactly the colors I want, and I know they work well together. Also this process gives me time to experiment with the many possibilities of mixing different colors. I save the colors I like to a smaller piece of watercolor paper. Under each saved color I write what colors I used to make it. Then I begin to paint.
One color I especially enjoyed working with is the turquoise in the hydrangea petals. I used thalo blue
with a lot of water, as it is a very intense color and the water lightens or softens it. Thalo blue was also mixed with yellow to make a cool green for the leaves going up the right side of the paper and to make a nice balance with the hydrangeas on the left.
Quick Recap for "How to Find Inspiration for a Painting":
1. Whether indoors or outdoors, be visually receptive to the beauty around you. A subject for a painting will resonate with positive feelings inside you.
2. Have your camera ready to capture what is speaking to you visually.
3. Take a good number of photos, because you may want to include some of one, a bit of another, and none of that one in your finished painting.