A local mom decided to pick up painting to enjoy life and found a whole new community.
Rayville resident Jennifer Hutton started painting three years ago. Hutton said she started painting again because she told herself by the time she was 40 she needed to get back into doing something she loved specifically just because she loved it. Hutton actually went to school for biological premedical illustration and took a painting class in college, but never seriously started painting before. When she’s not painting, Hutton works as a senior designer at Hallmark designing greeting cards.
Hutton’s work will be on display at the Main Spring Art Gallery for the month of June. She said each month the gallery tries to display a different artist. Hutton said her main goal in her artwork right now involves pushing her art more into storytelling and having a message, and less into just being pretty. Themes in her recent work include focusing on life and death. A series in her exhibit includes representing the 2018 victims of gun deaths. She’s also been painting about creation and destruction, and how they’re two sides of the same coin.
One of her current favorite pieces she’s done is called “Elsa” because her model, Lana Besherse, said if she could be painted as a story character, it would be Disney Princess Elsa.
“Lana Besherse is the model for it and although it doesn’t perfectly represent Lana herself, it was a very quick piece that kind of flowed out of me and came together nicely,” Hutton said. “I didn’t even want to go back and add a second or third layer to perfect it, which is unusual for me ... ”
Hutton said many different artists inspire her for many different reasons. She said some artists inspire her for doing things she can’t do, but that she appreciates. Others inspire her to emulate their work. One artist who has always been one of her favorites that she can’t emulate is John Singer Sargent.
“I admire parts of his work, such as being able to just do a dab of paint that represents something, like lace,” Hutton said. “From far away the painting looks like a piece of lace, but you get up close and it’s just dabs of paint.”
Vincent Van Gogh also inspires her. She said she appreciates an artist committing to a particular style.
Kehinde Wiley, also one of Hutton’s favorites, inspired her to do portraits.
“He’s the artist who did President Obama’s portrait,” Hutton said. “We have one at Hallmark I would walk by every day at work, and just seeing that artwork being an important piece of artwork made me decide to go back into painting portraits.”
Hutton said her biggest inspiration in her daily life is the people in her gallery. She said it’s great to have a community of artists that bounce ideas off each other. She said all the artists empower and encourage each other to keep going and keep trying new things.
Another thing important to Hutton is her family. Hutton dedicates much of her spare time to her daughter Lara.
“One of my hobbies is just encouraging my daughter’s events,” Hutton said. “She’s in gymnastics and stuff and I love cheering her on and encouraging her in her performances.”
Hutton also has three dogs she enjoys spending time with. She has a big black lab named Cooper, a Lhasa Apso named Little Bear and a Shih Tzu names Henry. Little Bear is actually featured in one of her portraits.
Hutton said something important to her is pushing the message of equality.
“I’m constantly thinking politically about women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism rights and animal rights,” Hutton said. “I’m always doing anything I can think of to get those messages across. I think, in general, that people should be treated kindly and equally.”
Hutton recently had an exhibit in Overland Park over women in the arts.
Hutton said she really appreciates the Excelsior Springs art community, and how it’s impacted her life.
“I would like to reiterate how awesome the art community is in Excelsior,” Hutton said. “We’re always trying to expand and grow and get new artists to get new ideas.”