Where I am closest to the heavens
It is an experience that hits the pit of your stomach, the longing for home as you skim over the northern range. From your seat you can peek through the window and see the vista of lush virgin mountains. And as the plane banks and lines up towards the airport, deep in your heart, your home awaits.
This is the work of a young artist as she combines both professions as a painter and skill as a pilot into her art practice. At the age of 24, Shannon Hutchinson has her Trinidadian and Canadian commercial flying license and a degree in Fine Art from the Ontario College of Art and Design. With the suggestion from a workshop held by painter Peter Doig in 2003, she says Mr. Doig approached the subject by asking her to combine rather than to separate both aspects of her professions. This single key has changed the way she paints.
From the beginning man has always been fascinated with flight, and artists have portrayed the vision through paintings. Leonardo da Vinci's studied flight by observing the wings of bats and birds. His apparatus is documented in his diaries dated 1490. The Wright brothers where able to devise stability and control of their flying machine in 1903 as it took to the skies for 12 seconds.
This young navigator sees it from the cockpit and she incorporates the iconography and mechanics of aviation in her work. Ms. Hutchinson approaches painting by tradition. Her palette is a patina of raw handmade pigment applied through washes of hues, and divisions of spaces. She also uses a form of collage adding to the intrigue and journey to her truest desire.
Miss Hutchinson’s work may be a traditional palette,but her subject matter is not. It is believed that the Flemish painters greatly revolutionized the Renaissance with their very realistic interpretations of clouds. Miss Hutchinson takes this much further in her observations as a pilot. At her tender age, it is a pleasure to see someone really stepping out and exploring so much in terms of her duel passions. Many a time I have looked at clouds from the ground, on flights and in buildings, and I have wished that I could somehow capture their beauty. To me, clouds, particularly seen from the air, take on a magic that seems symphonic in nature. Miss Hutchinson is able to capture just that. I had the privilege of seeing some of her large pieces, and this is another thing, she paints big, to get to the emotions of the formations.
These are not just careful copies of cloud shapes, but elements of what make the heavens so magnificent in the first place. There is the sense of air and motion, the possibilities of subtle weather changes, the reflection and refraction of light, and the questions of what is behind that puffy shape. She has also made very bold statements about our islands dramatic shifts by painting the buoyant blimp amidst clouds. She is managing very well to transcend the very narrow subject matter and giving it great weight and interest in a marketplace where so many more experienced artists are keeping staid and uninspired and producing nothing remotely challenging. She reminds us that you can take chances and come out on the other side better for it. Think of flight itself. What a challenge! But it is more than possible. It is normal and a wonderful way to see the world, and Miss Hutchinson is doing just that. - Adele