June Artist of the Month: Rachel Hurst

 

Rachel Hurst moved to Austin with her family when she was in fifth grade and is the eighth and youngest child of famed western artist Oleg Stavrowsky and her beloved mother, Carol Stavrowsky. Growing up, she was surrounded by world-class art created by her father and siblings. In this way, she was lucky to be trained in the principals of good painting design and technique through exposure.

No stranger to competition, she spent her childhood devoted to competitive figure skating, she holds a national 8-ball title, and she won a tournament qualifying her to play on the World­­ Series of Poker (where she was summarily kicked to the curb… you can’t win ‘em all!). She formerly competed on the Women’s Professional Billiard Association Tour.

Hurst earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Washington and lived in Seattle for about 10 years before returning to Austin. Hurst is an avid cruciverbalist and lives with her husband Travis and three cats in Austin, Texas.

Rachel began discovering her passion for fine art incorporating two of her favorite things: animals & design.  She utilizes color, pattern, and abstract design to frame the animals in the way they make her feel when she looks at them.  She is well known for her pet portraits, and she donates 10% of all of her art sale profits to animal charities, most notably Safe In Austin.

“Most of my work incorporates some kind of abstract background juxtaposed with a representational animal. I like the contrast of the two styles and think it brings a dynamic to a painting that a traditional background does not. I do paint the occasional traditional background, but it doesn’t usually compel me like creating a complimentary abstract background does. I’ve been painting fine art for just under two years, so my style is definitely still evolving.”

“Part of that evolution includes branching out into what I call more stylized paintings – ones like “American Chicken.” That kind of whimsical, interpretive painting feels like pure joy to me.  I equate it to being like a little kid playing in the mud. Many people don’t really understand that kind of art… so it doesn’t tend to have the same wide commercial appeal as my more representational stuff, but those who appreciate that style really do seem to enjoy it as much as I enjoy painting it. That’s extremely gratifying! The design requirements are the same in an abstract or stylized painting as they are in a representational painting—the composition, balance, and color juxtaposition all need to be diligently designed. In that way, it isn’t any less work for me as the artist—but the freedom to be funny and sometimes goofy with the compositions makes it a different process than with the representational paintings.”

“American Chicken started out as a representational painting. I was sketching it out when the song “American Woman” came randomly into my head. As songs sometimes do, it just wouldn’t stop! The lyrics just naturally evolved from American woman to American chicken as it was playing in my mind. This made me laugh—and that was that. The whole design and structure of the painting changed. Because the chicken is so complicated in pattern, I wanted to balance it with a very simple background, and I wanted to use primary colors to reinforce the associations with the USA. That’s how art is—the work itself evolves as I paint. I’ll typically start with one idea in mind, then something will happen and I’ll sit back and watch where the painting goes. It’s really fun to be a part of that process—and know that I’m not really the one determining how it comes out. The paintings come through me—some are better than others, but I don’t really take responsibility for any of it. I just sit back and enjoy the ride and I’m happy and grateful to be allowed to be a part of it. I’m not a religious person, but I definitely know that I’m not in control of this artistic process.”

“I appreciate Dana so much!  She always works in a timely manner to get my images done, and she’s been SPOT ON in getting the color matching correct so that the reproductions look like the original artworks.  I trust her completely – and for an artist to say that about someone who is in control of their reproduction color and quality, that’s saying a lot.  She’s the best – and really sweet and pleasant to work with.  Everyone there has been great.”

Contact Rachel at rachel@rachelhurstfineart.com or visit her website.