The Artist's Canvas
All images copyright © by Steve Hutton and unauthorized duplication or display is unlawful.
TWPT: When did art become an important part of your life and was there something that acted as a catalyst or motivator that pushed you towards art?
SH: Drawing has been important to me for as long as I can remember. As a boy we (thankfully) had no computers/games and only three TV channels to choose from, so paper and pencils was an exciting way to escape. At the time I thought all kids loved to draw as much as I did, but only as I got older did I realise the truth was more complex, and that neglect of creative topics in schools can lead children away from drawing as they get older.
TWPT: What do you like the most about being an artist? What is your least favorite part of being an artist?
SH: The highlights of creating artwork includes the tactile feeling of just pushing paint around a surface, seeing the drama and storytelling emerge as the piece grows, and hearing different people read their own meanings and narratives into an image, giving it extra layers of life. These are to name just a few highlights. The downside can be the prolonged isolation of sitting at the drawing board for hours, which during the cold winter months can be pretty testing if you can't afford the luxury of cranking the heating up to full!
That snowballed into dozens of characters all of whom I wrote a few lines of back-story for. As the drawings became better and more lifelike their potted histories became grittier and more in-depth. It was a steep learning curve but a highly creative and energetic time of my life. I often found myself drawing into the early hours.
TWPT: What was it that drew you to the subject matter of witches in your artwork? Is your interest in witches strictly an artistic pursuit or is there more of a real world motivation for your efforts?
SH: I'd opted to draw witches just for the fictional context, but after a little background reading about witchcraft (a rich but sometimes murky topic as I'm sure many readers of this magazine will appreciate) I wanted to incorporate more of witchcraft’s spiritual aspects into the characters and their world – not just the cliched pointy hats and broomsticks. I freely admit to a lot of reinvention, adding my own elements, but one thing remained key – to represent witches (men and women) as ordinary people who just happen to follow a certain faith system, one that I depicted as benign and nurturing, as I believe it always was and is.
SH: People say a picture paints a thousand words, but at the risk of sounding heretical I know that to write a scene, in which for example a few characters are sitting, chatting around a camp fire, might take an hour at most. To draw that scene would take days! I sum it up thus – writing's quick to create but needs the reader's patience, while drawing takes ages but the viewer can read it in a heartbeat.
TWPT: What is it that inspires the images that you create? Is your artwork like a finely drawn storyboard as to where your characters are going?
SH: I write and draw the things I know best, and as I love being out in nature, that easily finds its way into my words and images. Same goes for writing – I create locations that mirror real places I've been (again, because I love them) so I can write about them with authority and make them feel more believable. Sometimes I'll take doodles I've sketched while on a train journey or half-absorbed in a film and work them up into large, finished pieces. I like the almost unconscious quality doodling captures, and the results sometimes even surprise me.
TWPT: Are there messages that your pieces communicate about your view of the world?
SH: I mentioned my view of witchcraft as being benign and nurturing, and in the world of Raven's Wand the witches’ beliefs include a duty to safeguard nature. I set the story in late Victorian Britain, which I've always viewed as a historical crossroads, when the industrialised way of life we live now had been firmly established and the domination of steel over greenery was not just widespread but celebrated. If the characters of Raven's Wand were alive in this day and age they'd be labeled 'eco-activists' at best, and at worst 'terrorists', but then again witchcraft has frequently been misunderstood (sometimes wilfully) in my view.