The Minted artist community consists of more than a handful of observant, thoughtful artists, and Betty Hatchett is definitely one of them. As she shares on her Minted Artist Store, the Cincinnati artist says she feels “more human when I make things, more aware of how strange and wonderful it is to be alive, more grateful.”
In this interview, Betty reflects on a number of those strange and wonderful things, including new motherhood, taking creative risks, and the art of lingering.
Portraits of Betty Hatchett by Julianna Boehm
You recently had your first baby—what is parenthood like for you?
Our son was born in October 2015, and life has been a magical blur ever since. I feel so grateful for the chance to watch his personality emerge, to see my love for him grow evermore specific as I get to know him, and to witness my husband’s devotion to him and to me on a whole new level. My heart feels more raw, stronger, and more vulnerable all at once. Being entrusted with his little life has been clarifying—I want to see him live heart-connected, with empathy and confidence and in pursuit of his calling. With that often on my mind, I’m seeing more and more opportunities to live from my own heart and different obstacles I’ve entertained that derail me from that path.
Parenthood so far has been both an unspeakable joy and incredible challenge. If I wasn’t so sleep-deprived, I’d wax poetic about this.
You live in Ohio, but there are elements of Florida in your work. Are you originally from Florida?
You can often find glimpses of the palette, wilderness, or kitsch of Florida’s gulf coast in my work, where I first fell in love with art making and the sun-kissed, gypsy Floridian artists I met at my neighborhood community center’s outdoor art fairs. I was enchanted as a child walking through booth after booth filled with snowy egrets, great blue herons, and gentle manatees, all the while serenaded by wafting Jimmy Buffett songs.
“Float” limited edition art print by Betty Hatchett
I grew up in Dunedin, Florida, a little town on the gulf coast. We moved away when I was 14, but I began to revisit my Florida roots while my husband and I were hoping to start a family. Florida seemed to be beckoning me as the first place I called home. My maiden name was Herron, so I’ve always had a personal connection with those ancient dinosaur-like creatures and by extension, many of the aquatic birds that frequent Florida’s gulf coast.
Quite often there have been hints of Florida’s influence in my work: bold florals, swimmers in pools of watercolor, but the bird series solidified the connection in my mind. It was a series I had wanted to paint for quite a while; when a friend tragically passed away in a rip tide, I no longer delayed that desire. The beauty and brevity of his life compelled me to explore these images, to find a way to love the ocean again, and let the painting of these birds be a mediation on love for his family and the family my husband and I deeply wanted. A friend pointed out how the symmetry, flared wings, and interlocking of their legs reminded her of a family crest, and I realized just how active my subconscious was as I started painting. So often the creative process gives glimpses into the things my heart is grappling with for which I haven’t words yet.
When and why did you move to Ohio?
I moved to Ohio 12 years ago to go to the Art Academy of Cincinnati. I thought my time in Ohio would be brief. My sister had moved to Los Angeles, and I figured I was West Coast–bound myself. But I fell in love with the beauty of Cincinnati, its grand/sometimes scandalous history, incredible art deco, and italianate architecture, gorgeous parks and gardens, but most of all an amazing community of friends. Cincinnati also has some pretty phenomenal opportunities for artists. I’ve worked with a local organization called ArtWorks that employs artists in all sorts of capacities and also hires talented teens as art apprentices. I’ve been able to design and paint murals, work on creative projects with local museums, collaborate with community leaders and social entrepreneurs on design projects. Ohio has seeped into my self-directed work a bit too. I did a series of native butterflies of the Midwest and have all kinds of ideas for paintings connecting with the beauty of our current home.
“Weightless” limited edition art print by Betty Hatchett
On your Minted Artist Store, you write, “The creative process allows me to slow down, listen to life’s stories, beauty, humor, questions, and give as honest a response as I can muster.” Can you tell us more about your creative process?
I have a couple different ways of working. One is the day-to-day, put in your time, explore, and see what happens painting practice. This doesn’t necessitate ideas that I have a particular need to express. It’s open-ended, usually visually led and therefore a bit less pressure. I find that when I’m not as attached to a particular outcome, I’m more at ease and able to try different things/take risks. This way of painting is rewarding in its own right but also feeds a practice that’s more focused and idea-driven. I’m discovering that I need both. My heart gets wrapped around a fact, a narrative, some kind of truth or beauty or goodness, and I need to filter it through my own voice-trust that I’ve got something to say about it, because it won’t leave me alone till I work with it.
Here’s a rough breakdown of those two ways of working:
- Pick a time and show up. For this season, it’s when my son is asleep in the evening on the days I’ve still got some steam.
- Choose a handful of inspiration. I have photos I’ve taken/collected, video stills, a collage of artists works I admire.
- Paint on about three different surfaces—sometimes the same image, sometimes variations of a theme—with ample practice paper to try out techniques.
- Go to bed with joy after painting something I like, or talk myself out of consolation chocolate when nothing works out—sometimes successfully.
- Often I paint the same subject again with the challenge of looking from a different angle or trying a new technique, improving the awkward places, etc.
1. Make time to be inspired by changing the scenery around me and in my mind. I read books that delight me, spend time with people whose minds and imaginations I admire, journal, hike, travel, stop and inhale roses, etc.
2. Draw primitive little sketches in my journal.
3. Collect source material.
4. Refine sketches.
6. Squint and critique.
Every once in a while—but rarely—it’s done at this point. If not…
7. Get disillusioned and brainstorm a more stable career path.
8. Paint again.
9. Repeat steps 5–8 until something clicks.
10. Sometimes I edit in the computer, occasionally splicing together two or more paintings.
Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
I’m illustrating the various true stories I’ve collected from books and news articles of kindness between people and animals—friendships, rescues, interventions, etc.—possibly for a book. My latest is of a pod of dolphins who rescued a drowning woman off the coast of Los Angeles. I am utterly amazed by this story, recounted by a team of scientists who happen to be observing the dolphins at the time. I’ve been enchanted for so long by these tales, the opportunity to tell them in my own voice feels both exciting and a little scary, because how could I do such amazing encounters justice? I’m giving it my best shot! You can follow the stories/illustrations on my blog.
For her son’s nursery, Betty Hatchett created an elephant bust made of old ties.
What’s your advice for up-and-coming artists?
Find and nurture friendships with other creatives. There are very specific challenges and joys to being an artist as well as being an entrepreneur. We all need friends to remind us of why we love the creative process when we have hit a block, friends who understand the mental angst grappling with pieces that just aren’t “there” yet, the vulnerability we all will face if we are committed to sharing our work, as well as the joy of life illuminated by finding your voice through creativity.
Also, carve time out to explore your own projects. The more you do what you love most, the more opportunities you’ll have to get paid to do what you love most.
What do you enjoy about being part of the Minted community?
I feel so grateful to be connected with so many amazing people through Minted. I’m astounded all the time by the talent and creativity represented in this community. The way folks at Minted sincerely root for each other’s success is truly inspiring and a testament to the fact that we are actually all on the same team, while continually competing with ourselves to improve. For the most part, Minties aren’t sidetracked by the competitive aspect, but are instead focused on the pursuit of creating beauty and celebrating it wherever it’s found.
What’s your favorite Minted artwork or design that you’ve created and why?
I’m always most excited about the pieces I haven’t painted yet! But I intentionally kept the original of “Luminous,” because there is a directness to it and also plenty of gritty imperfections. The mark making feels confident and free, which interestingly, remembering when I was painting it, I didn’t feel confident. There had lapsed some time since I last painted, and whenever that happens I have a bit more fear of failure than usual. So when I feel that way, I repeat little mantras, like Leonard Cohen’s “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” and keep going. At one point, I thought for sure I had ruined it, but then I started collaging on top of the places that didn’t work out. It felt like a bit of a breakthrough. That’s often a progression for me: point of desperation and then breakthrough. Of course, sometimes I’m right about ruining pieces! But the biggest leaps I’ve made in my visual language have come after coming an inch away from giving up.
“Luminous” by Betty Hatchett, the artist’s favorite piece on Minted.com
What’s your favorite Minted design or art—that someone else created—and why?
This question is entirely too hard! There are so many phenomenal pieces in Minted’s collection and I’m in love with too many to name, all for very unique-to-the-piece reasons. So can I tell you the way a piece I particularly love connects to me instead? “Globetrotters” by ERAY (Eric Comstock) was the first piece I choose for our son’s room when we found out we were pregnant. I have loved Eric’s smart, jazz-like, joyful mark making for so long. His distinctive visual language has such wonderful free-play, stream-of-conscious creative connections. My husband’s parents like to tell the story of how, as a little boy of about 8, he took the parts of their family camera apart and reconfigured them to make a scotch-tape secured battery operated car. When I look at “Globetrotters,” I see happy little gears and bits and bops in an imagination workshop coming together to make glorious creations. I feel the joy of playing without judgment, of experimentation and curiosity. I think of that spark in my husband and my desire to inspire our boy toward his own creative expression.
“Globetrotters” by ERAY
As we put together our son’s room, the art was super important to us and we hoped our son would eventually enjoy it as he matured, but I was surprised to find that looking at his art was among the very first ways we observed our boy’s joy. Before he could hold a toy, he loved studying the pictures on his wall. We have another piece from Eric’s children’s book series, “Charlie Piechart,” that was Newton’s very first art love. There are several pictures of 2-month-old Newton, held by one of his bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived parents in front of Charlie, because Charlie’s endearing, cheery face soothed him and gave our boy some of his very first smiles.
QUICK! TELL US…
Side note: I’m not fantastic at “quick.” I tend to be a lingerer. I’ve had people compliment me like this: “It’s so refreshing how slow you are!” Thanks? There are pluses and minuses to every gift, I suppose. I hope to always be slow enough to hear people’s stories, but speed up the time it takes me to find my keys, for example. So, with that in mind…
Oils or Watercolor? Watercolor. I used to paint in oils, but developed an allergy—sometimes I think I’ll take it back up again, but just paint outside in the summers.
Digital or Film? Digital
Modern or Vintage? Mix and match
Morning or Night? Morning for sleeping, afternoon for painting, night for playing. But of course, none of this applies with a baby!
Picasso or Monet? Sargent, Matisse, Vullard, and Porter
Stripes or Polka Dots? Polka dots
Summer or Winter? Summer
City or Country? Yes!
Texting or Calling? Calling for conversation, texting for logistics
Published April 25, 2016 • Want to join the Minted Artist Community? Submit to a Challenge here.3 COMMENTS