An Interview with Hannah Ivory Baker

You can view Hannah's portfolio here and learn more about Hannah and her artwork by visiting and following her on Twitter(@hib31_art).

Please take a few sentences to introduce yourself, your background, and your work.

I am an artist living in Crouch End, North London. My background has been largely centered around sport (I trained to be a professional Tennis player) although, there has always been some artistic influence.

I began painting when I was quite young, nothing formal but I was always encouraged to draw and paint. My grandad was an artist and I used to sit and watch him for hours in his studio. I loved watching him work. There were bits of dried paint, used brushes and half whited out paintings everywhere. If I close my eyes I can remember the smell of cut wood, turps and chalky paint lingering in the air of his studio. It pleases me that mine now smells similar!

When and how did you get started painting?

The reason I paint now; really stems from these childhood memories and wanting to keep in touch with them. The decision to approach my painting seriously and with a sense of direction came out of the blue roughly three years ago. I got home from work and realized I hadn’t painted for ages. In fact I couldn’t remember the last time I did anything even remotely art related. This thought saddened me. The realization that life was continuing, time was passing and something that I love was fast disappearing. It was in this moment that I decided to become an artist. As much as this thought made me want to quit my job immediately I haven’t just yet, I am the head coach of a local tennis club and fortunately this is reasonably flexible and helps facilitate my painting, easing the pressure a little so the emphasis can be on learning and creating instead of the need to sell work.

In a few sentences, how would you describe your art?

I would describe my work as contemporary or expressive perhaps. Although I do some more traditional looking paintings, mainly when painting still life subjects. But honestly, it does depend on what I’m trying to achieve with a painting that determines just how traditional or contemporary it is.

Where does the inspiration for your works come from?

The inspiration for my work really comes from everything around me. From music and busy streets to fields and coasts or a collection of objects on a table. I see or hear something beautiful and no matter how fleeting I’ll want to capture it in some way, either by painting it in a true, exacting sense or by simply trying to capture the feeling and atmosphere, my emotional response.

What medium/materials do you use and why?

I paint predominantly in Oil. I feel the possibilities of this medium are infinite. The ability to create translucent washes or heavy texture provides a constant challenge and creates interest in it’s own right. Equally, the sheer depth and contrast of color that can be achieved with oil paint is, in my opinion, like no other.

Do you have a particular method when you start a new project?

In starting a project I’m actually fairly organized. I generally start with a couple of blank pieces of paper and jot down ideas, bullet points, sketches, cut sections of photos etc. in order to develop a more structured and coherent framework for the thoughts in my head.

Do you have a favorite piece of artwork or artist? What do you like about that work/person?

I have lots of favorite artists but the top few are J M W Turner, for the depth of color, use of scumbling and glazing, producing such atmosphere. John Constable, his oil sketches are an important influence for me, bold, earthy and evocative. Monet for his Water lilies paintings and I love his beautiful limited palette. Seago, I don’t think he has done one painting I dislike, just love the feeling I get when looking at his work. Finally, Rembrandt, because portraiture is not really something I’m great at but if I was, I would love to paint portraits like him! I love his etchings too.

Is there a particularly good piece of advice that you have received about painting, or advice that you would give to aspiring artists?

My advice to any aspiring artist is to persevere and be patient. Things rarely happen overnight and behind every single step forward there are hours of hard work, wasted paint and moments of complete despair! As much as possible surround yourself with people that aren’t negative and that don’t try and distract you from what you want to achieve otherwise before you know it months will have passed by and you’re back to the beginning all over again. Finally, one thing that has really helped me in getting started in my artistic endeavors and has enabled me to ‘put my work out there’ is Twitter. Through this I have found a great and ever expanding community of artists and art enthusiasts from all over the world that are sharing work, giving opinions, criticism, advice and new things to experiment with. It may sound obvious but anything like this that allows you to immerse yourself in a world of art that may not be physically possible in day-to-day life, is invaluable and should be utilized to it’s fullest extent.

How frequently do you paint?

I paint pretty much everyday. There is always a new thing I want to practice or play with, different colors, new techniques or subject. I will continue to paint simply because I love it, it provides a constant challenge and keeps me engaged. The aim or goal is really for my art to reach as many people as possible and to keep on creating and exhibiting.

If there is anything else that you consider important or relevant about yourself or your work, please feel free to include it.

Some of my work will be on show at Highgate Contemporary Art, North London as part of a group exhibition. This runs from 28th June – 6th September. So anyone is welcome to pop in and take a look. Equally I have a website where more of my work can be viewed and I welcome anyone that has a Twitter account and is interested in my work, to follow me @hib31_art for all sorts of daily updates and art related posts.

You can view Hannah's portfolio here and learn more about Hannah and her artwork by visiting and following her on Twitter(@hib31_art).