The Palette of Life, Time and Decay
Artist Profile — Skip Hunt, Part One
Great art seizes your attention. That’s how it was when I first saw the photographs of Visual Artist Skip Hunt. I was transfixed. The considered composition, the sumptuous color, the feeling of being whisked to a sunbaked or storied locale.
Join me in this conversation with Skip. I asked him about his fantastic eye for color; I wondered if he was born with that or how he developed it.
“I get that a lot,” said Skip. “… when I didn’t have a great cornucopia of color and texture to work with…like you find in places like Mexico or India, I spent time trying to find naturally occurring composition, color, and texture everywhere I went.”
“Sometimes I’d purposely go to areas that are not known for great aesthetic inspiration, and force myself to find gems…,” said Skip. “Soon, I found that the compositions I’d find in the least likely places were somehow much more rewarding than the places where it comes easy.”
“It’s like some great spirit designer forged some amazing composition with the elements of life, time, and decay on its palette. I did nothing other than recognize the work of the great spirit, frame it, and record it for the pleasure of others.”
Skip said he first became interested in art at age 7 or 8 by combining bits of colored and textured cloth to costume his teddy bear. He went on to try many crafts.
“Maybe I didn’t quite like how that portion of my childhood was going and was abstractly trying to change my surrounding through creative endeavor,” said Skip. “When I hit the ripe old age of 15, my mother had bought a Pentax K1000 35mm camera…I even found the smell of the new image machine intoxicating. Immediately, I started saving to buy my own and haven’t stopped shooting since.”
In this piece, I’ve highlighted some of Skip’s “Architecture” and “Abstract” photographs. His portrait work is equally captivating. I asked him about his artful composition.
“With portraits, I think the most important element is that you feel like you “see” the subject’s soul,” said Skip. “Not just a photo of an inanimate human form, but some evidence there’s some spirit or essence behind the eyes. I think this only happens when subject and photographer connect at some level. You can see it when it happens.”
“A good example would be most of Richard Avedon’s portrait work,” said Skip. “Technically, his portraits were typically lit with simple diffused lighting and a plain white background. Very easy to duplicate. But with Avedon’s images, there’s something else. Something that transcends the flat 2-dimensional. Some evidence of “soul”.”
“With most other types of photography…the stylistic influence would be overall balance between color, texture, light, shadow, and line. Either texture or color or line that pull the viewer into the image, leads the eye through until the desired emotion is achieved.”
“…I know it when I see it,” said Skip “…It doesn’t really matter so much if you have an aptitude for photographic gear or not. What’s important is being able to recognize that “it” or having “the eye”. I think anyone who appreciates and recognizes great photographic images has the aptitude for making great images themselves.”
The inspiration of travel is at the heart of Skip’s work.
“My motivation for travel is a fascination and love of all the diversity between cultures. I usually pick a new location based on the possibility that I will feel absolutely lost in a strange new world, and that the period of time before it becomes too familiar will be the longest,” said Skip.
“I really love the feeling of being a strange explorer in a new world. I oftentimes wonder if everyone could find a way to travel and immerse themselves in different cultures…if that alone might end wars. The more you travel the more you see that we really are ALL part of the same world community.”
Skip is reminded of a line in the movie Blade Runner by the actor Rutger Hauer:
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tan Hauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.
“Photography is my way of catching those precious moments so that they will NOT be lost in time like tears in rain,” said Skip.
Skip Hunt (below right, and in barn above) is a Visual Artist living in and loving Austin, Texas. Art photography is his passion, and he does commercial photography, preferably in his artistic style. He also does graphic design, web, and video work.
In just a few days, Skip embarks on a motorcycle journey through Mexico. He said, “I like to just get lost in Mexico on my motorcycle. I have certain places I like to revisit, but mostly just let the wind carry me where it will.” Follow along at the special blog Skip created for this and future trips: http://skiphuntvagabond.tumblr.com/
And join me for our next post where Skip shares his advice for other photographers and artists.