Artists share tips and their creative process

The exhibit “Taking Flight” features the work of Jon Hamblin, Jodi Endicott and Sarah Hyland – Anthony Davis

I like to think there’s a little artist in each of us. Even that really brainy gal I talk to who loves her numbers and insists she has zero art ability beyond stick figures. But drawing isn’t the only artistic medium.

I often ask people, “Have you ever worked with ceramics?” I spend many hours in WCC’s ceramics studio, and I’ve known a person or two who had never touched the stuff but ended up having savant-like aptitudes once they got their hands on it. I feel we never truly know where our artistic barriers rise and fall until we dive in.    

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the newly featured artists–Jon Hamblin, Jodi Endicott and Sarah Hyland–showcased in “Taking Flight,” the current exhibit at WCC’s Gallery ‘Iolani. I wanted to find out where they got their starts and what advice they had for other artists like me.

Water-colorist and current WCC student Sarah Hyland has a unique-looking style all her own. Wrapped in whimsy and adorned in soothing warm tones, the illustrations lining her portfolios are both striking and inviting. I asked her what sources she tapped to fire her creative flow.

“Nature, or environmentalist themes, global warming, animal rites, animals … ” Hyland said. “I love animals.”

Jon Hamblin’s work is a rich tapestry of beautiful acrylics on canvases of aluminum roofing. A mesmerising fusion of metal, paint and symbolism are combined.

He spoke to me about his travels, sharing his experiences in the jungles of Belize via the Peace Corps. But it was Jon’s time in Haiti, where his father’s work as a physician had taken him and the whole family, that would inevitably introduce him to his calling.

“When I was a little boy, watching with his blue eyes; I was just looking at the Haitians doing the most amazing art from materials that they just found.”

Hamblin recalled one artist in particular.

”I’ll never forget this guy. He had old cans … evaporated milk cans that he made a suitcase out of that he was trying to sell. I just never forgot that.”

Jodi Endicott’s display pieces branch into several different styles ranging from assemblage to canvas to hybrid cemented animal forms. She takes her art to the next level with life-sized representations for all her animal forms, including life-sized chickens, pigs comprised of blackened cement, chicken wire and more.  

During an open gallery session with all the artists, one attendee asked, “What do you do when you have a roadblock? How do you remove it?

Endicott replied, “I have a really busy mind. And as long as it stays really caffeinated and there’s really good music on, I have no problem.”

She went on to say, “Driving and listening to music right outside the Pali tunnels where Kailua side going to town is. There must be something really magical or spiritual there because I’ll be thinking about things all the way up, and when I get to that place, it’s like, boom! I see it. I know what to do next! Just go for a drive.” She ended with a hearty laugh

Hamblin and Endicott shared the adversities and tribulations that artists will at some point face. They talked about running the gamut from shady art house auctions to finicky buyers who may commision work but later leave you hanging to seedy fundraisers devaluing one’s art to net a bigger profit.

“Just don’t ever give up,” Endicott said. “There’s so many obstacles in your way. Now that I’m older, I always I have that saying. It’s like we walk around being insecure all the time. And the other thing that always live by is, ‘Am I moving forward?’”

She paused and then said, “And I always know, if I’m seeing obstacles, then I’ve lost sight of my goal. So how did I know I wanted to be an artist? I guess I had to live a lot.”

One of the final pieces of wisdom the artists shared was an issue near and dear to all proverbial starving artists: how to conserve cash on quality art supplies and how to get work.

Their parting tips:  Never go to art supply stores–they are too expensive. Go to the hardware stores and look for discounted mis-mixed paints. Also, people throw stuff out, so drive around. Look at trash piles.

And lastly, they said, “A lot of the time we wait around for people to come to us and make things happen, or say it’s okay. Don’t do that. Just go make it happen.”

by Anthony Davis, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter