Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Hitting a High Note" with Katherine Hannan

Katherine Hannan from North Central College in Illinois was the Third Place Winner of the $300 Scholarship Award in the 2007 Fine Art Finals Midwest Regional Scholarship Competition with her 13.25"x17.75" Colored Pencil drawing Hitting a High Note pictured above. Katherine was also a finalist in the the 2008 Fine Art Finals Midwest Regional Scholarship Competition with her 24"x30" acrylic painting Jazz Trio pictured below.

Katherine was kind to take part in a brief interview. Here is what she said:

Fine Art Finals: Why do you create art?

Katherine Hannan:
Through art, I can capture a moment or express an idea in a way that nothing else can. While completing a piece of artwork gives me a sense of accomplishment, it is more rewarding to share my art with others and experience their reactions. For me, that is the best part of creating art. Sharing a piece of myself and seeing others’ responses allows me to better understand myself, those around me, and the purpose of my work.

Fine Art Finals: What are you trying to say with your art?

Katherine Hannan: This varies with the piece. Sometimes I am trying to express an emotion, such as worry or joy. Other times I work to illustrate an abstract idea, either through abstract art or simply by freezing a moment in time. I enjoy realistically depicting an event while trying to emphasize the emotions attached to it in a subtle way.

Fine Art Finals: How long have you been creating art?

Katherine Hannan: I have loved to draw for as long as I can remember; art has always been an integral part of who I am. Yet, as I mature, I become more conscious of attaching meaning to my work, and the effect I can have on others.

Fine Art Finals: Are your family and friends supportive in your decision to pursue art?

Katherine Hannan: Yes. I have always had a very strong support network in my family and friends. They see that I enjoy my art, and so they encourage me to continue to engage in it.

Fine Art Finals: What is your area of concentration in art (commercial art, fine art, art history, etc) and why?

Katherine Hannan: I am most interested in fine art, because I enjoy creating pieces for people to enjoy. I feel that fine art allows me the most freedom to do this.

Fine Art Finals: What is your major?

Katherine Hannan: Currently, my major is Studio Art, but I am looking to add a Business major, most likely Accounting. I am choosing this combination because while I am fascinated by art, I do not wish to make it my only career. I feel an Accounting background will not only help me secure a job after graduation, but also give me a very useful understanding of business. This will be helpful in the future, because I hope to eventually own a small business.

Fine Art Finals: What was the deciding factor in choosing the school you are attending?

Katherine Hannan: I selected North Central College based on its approach to education. It is a liberal arts school, and this appealed to me because it encourages a well-rounded education. I am learning about everything from sulfur to supply and demand while also developing general skills, such as a good work ethic. Additionally, the trimester system along with program flexibility allows me to take classes from any department while maintaining focus on one or two disciplines.

Fine Art Finals: Why did you choose the specific art program you chose at your school?

Katherine Hannan: I chose Studio Art because it encompasses a wide variety of techniques and will therefore allow me to expand my horizons. By being involved in North Central’s Art program, I am able to experiment with new media and techniques while receiving personal instruction from my professors.

Fine Art Finals: What is your favorite medium(s) to work in and why?

Katherine Hannan: I love drawing with anything, especially ink, but lately acrylic paints have caught my interest. I love the brilliant color that they can achieve. I also like the fact that they are so versatile; I can change a piece as many times as I want without losing its clean appearance.

Fine Art Finals: What is your philosophy and work ethic in creating your art?

Katherine Hannan: Whenever I start a piece, I put everything into it. I usually start with an image that is important or interesting to me, then work to express the emotions behind the picture. As a general rule, I aim for technical perfection. Since entering college, I have come up against much more difficult deadlines and assignments than I dealt with in high school. This has taught me to work quickly without sacrificing too much quality. Careful attention to detail, however, is still intrinsic to my work, so I often continue to slowly alter pieces of work after they have been turned in for credit.

Fine Art Finals: Who is your favorite artist(s) and why?

Katherine Hannan: This changes almost daily, but one constant favorite is M.C. Escher. I am so fascinated by the detail in his work. His pieces draw the observer in, and I could spend hours looking at every minute feature. Lately I have become interested in Kerry James Marshall, based on the way he thoroughly expresses ideas in his realistic yet collage-like paintings.

Fine Art Finals: What artist most influences your work and why?

Katherine Hannan: The greatest influences on my technical style have probably been my teachers throughout the years. They, along with my parents and other elders, have taught me to work hard and always do the best job possible. One of my favorite quotes is “All art is but an imitation of nature.” Below the surface, my ultimate influence would have to be the ultimate artist—God, the Creator. It was His creativity that led to everything around me, including the creativity in myself. He is in it all. The beauty, spontaneity, and intricacy of life are my true inspiration.

Fine Art Finals: Do you have any other interests beyond art; what are they and do these interests influence your art?

Katherine Hannan: I have innumerable interests beyond art…really, I am interested in everything! Any new knowledge fascinates me, and any event in my life has the potential to affect my art. Recently, my boyfriend has become intrigued by the prospect of opening a small restaurant. We therefore spend lots of time checking out existing restaurants and related aspects, from busy kitchens to stressed-out chefs to restaurant design to happily dining customers. These discoveries have shown up in much of my recent art. Music has also been integral in my life since my youth, and so I have also become fascinated with attempting to recreate feelings of music in my art.

Fine Art Finals: Is there a specific career path you wish to follow utilizing your artistic talents, and if so, what is your plan for utilizing your artistic skills in the future?

Katherine Hannan: As of right now, I have no specific art-related career path in mind. I will always create art, no matter what my occupation. I have considered Art Education, perhaps later in life, as well as a small art shop or studio. Time will tell.

Fine Art Finals: How do (did) you support yourself financially while attending college?

Katherine Hannan: My parents and I share the burden of financing my education. They pay for half of tuition as well as room and board, while I pay for the other half of tuition and books. I earn the money for my payments by working at the family business, my dad’s small grocery store. As my mom is currently starting up her own private accounting practice, I will probably soon enter a second job assisting her.

Fine Art Finals: Have you received any other financial assistance (Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, etc) to pursue your education?

Katherine Hannan: Yes. The major reason I am able to attend North Central College is a Presidential Scholarship, as well as an Art Scholarship, that together account for a great deal of my tuition.

Fine Art Finals: How did you hear about Fine Art Finals Scholarship Competitions?

Katherine Hannan: During my freshman year at North Central, my Drawing I professor, Barry Skurkis, informed all art students of the competition.

Fine Art Finals: How has winning or placing in Fine Art Finals Scholarship Competitions helped you?

Katherine Hannan: The monetary award was a big help in paying for school. Also, seeing my work on the website gave me more confidence in my work, a less tangible reward.

Fine Art Finals: What advice would you give other student artists?

Katherine Hannan: I would tell any student artist to really focus on what they want to express with their art. The technical aspects come from much practice and a commitment to improve, and I think that motivation can only come from the true desire to express something bigger than you. Another practical piece of advice is to listen to your professors. As an artist, it can be hard to take criticism because we all want to do things our way, but the truth is, you can’t really improve without some sort of instruction. Perhaps some professors only want you to do things their way, or maybe you do not agree with their attitudes, but don’t focus on the negative. Aim to find the good advice in their instruction, and occasionally try something that you absolutely do not want to do. If nothing else, you will learn for sure what you do not like! Take every challenge, because changing a technique or correcting a mistake does not mean you are not being true to your artistic purpose. On the contrary, you are expanding the very core of yourself as an artist: your creativity.

Fine Art Finals: Thank you Katherine. Congratulations again, and we wish you continued success!