Hares of Hampshire Art Trail: Q&A with artist Jenny Muncaster
The University is excited to be a part of the Hares of Hampshire Art Trail, which starts today (16 June 2022) across Winchester and Southampton to raise funds for Southampton Children's Hospital. The University is sponsoring its own giant hare sculpture for the Trail, which has been designed and decorated by Winchester-based professional artist Jenny Muncaster.
Here Jenny talks about her inspiration for her highly decorative abstract design and how she brought it to life.
How did you get involved in The Hares of Hampshire Art Trail?
Some creative projects just can't be ignored, and this is definitely one of those! Such a great idea, a really positive project for a brilliant cause. I'm very much in support of creative happenings across the City that engage locals and visitors alike. The initial procedure involved a selection process on submission of design ideas by artists. I was thrilled to be chosen as one of the 30 artists to create a hand-painted Hare for the trail
Tell us about the inspiration for the artwork you created for the University of Winchester Hare
Now more than ever I am conscious of the importance of looking out for each other, embracing diversity and making time for our health and wellbeing which can all be enhanced by getting creative.
My design for the University of Winchester Hare is about promoting all of those things but, ultimately, it's about being comfortable in one's own skin, hence the title 'Be Your Beautiful Self'.
I am known for my vibrant and uplifting mixed media work, which this artwork typifies. My motivation begins with the sheer pleasure of the creative process and so a very personal narrative flows through the artwork. I have chosen a lively mix of pattern and colour utilising a variety of beautiful creative techniques. Ranging from subtle and soft watercolour through to more intense deep layers and pops of colour.
I wanted this work to reflect the layers that make up our unique personalities. The abstract patterns include motifs from varied sources and the final painting presents a highly decorative and non-gender specific artwork.
How long did it take you to complete?
The actual painting of the Hare took about a week. I started with the washy background layers of colour combining blending techniques, using big soft brushes and sponges. It's a slow process to start with getting the balance of the design right. Scaling up the elements of pattern and individual mark making from a small design to the 6ft canvas requires a bit of patience to get the composition right.
Once the flow of colour and pattern works in 3D, I then start creating the next layers using some interesting paint techniques, combining water, acrylic paint and the use of a hairdryer! The paper design acts as a starting point, each fresh layer is a response to the previous one and the artwork evolves. I then go on to layer pattern with stencils, printing, even some gold leaf and of course the more intricate details of the eyes and face which give this Hare its unique personality.
The Hare is over six feet tall: is this the largest piece you have ever worked on?
This is the largest 3-dimensional painting I've worked on. It's very liberating working on a large scale like this but a 6ft 3-dimentsional 'canvas' offers some more unusual challenges - getting into tight corners, crawling underneath to paint the belly and then high up to reach those long ears! Fun but physical at times!
I am used to working on large 2D canvases. I have painted 12ft canvases for the suites on The Royal Caribbean cruise liner as well as for various hotels around the world. Then of course there's the collection of slightly smaller but more unusually hand painted art bollards in The Square in Winchester - another favourite project.
How different is this commission from the work you usually do?
The Hare definitely shares many of the processes and techniques from my own work as an artist, just on a different scale. I love experimenting with different effects, techniques, mark making and pattern - its lovely to bring many of the processes I've developed on to one piece.
One of my favourite mediums to work with are acrylics. They are incredibly versatile and can be used in numerous ways to achieve all sorts of effects, many utilised in the painting of the Hare. The acrylics I've used are System 3 acrylics by Daler Rowney, amazing colours and incredibly high pigment strength so great for this vibrant large-scale artwork.
Back in my studio I create smaller paintings using a wide range of art materials. These are often inspired by my favourite subjects, food, wine and nature. And I'm partial to a coastal view! I also really enjoy creating personalised paintings for people, bringing elements of their day-to-day life, home and hobbies into the finished artwork.
My work as a full-time professional artist is very varied: when I'm not painting in the studio at The Colour Factory I'm teaching or presenting for TV and video. I like to demystify the creative process by sharing my professional tips and tricks to make the creative process more achievable.
I love sharing my passion for art and believe everyone has an artist in them - just waiting to get out!
What do you hope people will think/feel when they see the Hare on the Art Trail?
I hope people will smile and feel uplifted, encourage friends and family to get out and explore the Hampshire Hare Art Trail - and perhaps even be inspired to pick up a paintbrush themselves!
Be Your Beautiful Self is located in the Weirs Riverside Walk Winchester.
For more info and creative inspiration follow Jenny:
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