The following is from a conversation I had with one of our local artists, Jacqui Hawk, who has been living with her family in Dunstable since 1994.
DN: What got you into painting?
Jacqui: I am a native of Edinburgh, Scotland. As a child, I loved to paint, always seeking creative ways to express myself through various mediums. But never in my wildest dreams had I imagined the tenderness and raw power in which the art would lend itself to me in helping me grow as a woman faced with many challenges. I found that I had discovered a way to reveal the hidden intimacies of my life.
DN: I noticed that your email user name on your website is: “ladyvangough.” Would you say that your work is influenced by Van Gough
Jacqui: One of the first paintings I did was “Ten Moons in a Scarlet Sky.” The moons are symbolic of the countries I have either worked in or traveled to. The mountains symbolize challenges and goals, and the trees symbolize growth. Not long after I did that painting, I saw ‘Starry Night’ by Van Gogh for the first time… and was immediately struck by our similarities… the energy and passion of his brush strokes – very thick, with an inherent movement and awareness of colors – together with his intimate correlation of nature and humankind. I plan on keeping both my ears though!
DN: What inspires you to paint? What does art mean to you?
Jacqui: There is a Gaelic word, ‘Anam Cara’ – it means ‘soul friend’, a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. This friendship is an act of recognition and belonging. You are joined in an eternal way with the friend of your soul.My art is my ‘Anam Cara’. It is from myself, to myself. It reflects the core of me, tells the story of a woman; where she has come from, where she is going, and it is the bright promise of a beautiful tomorrow… My art has always listened to my soul – it understands. Everyone is an artist. We just have to bring it out of the silence and coax the invisible to become visible and to grow, we need to be truthful to our vulnerable complexity.
DN: I have to admit that, although I am usually touched by what I see, I don’t always understand abstract art. I can appreciate it better when I know something about what the artist had in mind when the painting was conceived. Could you tell me about some of your paintings?
Jacqui: I work mainly in acrylics and oils, wax, pearlescent powders, gesso of different consistencies and stained glass pieces, which I incorporate on top of and around the oil design. I like seeing how joyfully they integrate and play with each other.
Each painting tells a story… from my Scottish origins, or my travels around the world, or personal struggles and challenges I faced as a child, and now as a woman.
“Aboriginal Dance” is a symbolic representation of a cave I came across in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, Australia, while I was living there in 1988. I integrated stained glass pieces adhered with gesso into an acrylic design.
“Flowers for Timothy” is a symbolic representation of triumph of light over dark. It is the story of a friend of mine, who inspired me greatly. This piece was done using acrylics and wax.
“Whimsical Walk” is a playful collaboration with my son Liam, who added buttons to my stained glass depictions of mountains and suns… It symbolizes the need to dream, to find your path in life, and live your authentic colors.
DN: Do you make a living by selling your art?
Jacqui: I sell my paintings mainly through word of mouth….Friends telling friends. I work full time as a Corporate Project Manager at UMass Lowell, so this is indeed still a part-time passion. The hardest part for me is the fact that I have to be truly inspired to paint… it is not an “on demand” thing. Weeks can go by when I won’t paint; then there are other times when I’m painting feverishly into the early hours of the morning. It all depends on my inspiration.
DN: How long have you been in Dunstable? Is this the first place you have lived in the US?
Jacqui: I moved to Dunstable from the UK in 1994 – the English feel of the landscape here appeals to me greatly. It’s a home away from home. It’s peaceful nature provides a wonderful palette from which to paint.
DN: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Jacqui: If anything, I hope I inspire you to find the artist within you. There is one within all of us… to be an artist does not mean you have to have a “technical” ability or grasp of a subject… Paint with your heart and soul, allow yourself to make mistakes…and feel proud of your uniqueness.