18h3,8m0s by Blake Hughes Interviews

Artist Interview: Blake Hughes

Artist Blake Hughes
Artist Blake Hughes

Today’s interview is with illustrator and oil painter, Blake Hughes .

Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

I was born and raised in a fairly small town in WV, graduated from Marshall University in 2010 with a Bachelors of Fine Art, and I am the first person in my family to graduate college. I currently live and work in Columbus Ohio, trying to grow and pursue an art career.

What type of work do you normally do?

Drawings and oil painting are my main go to mediums. I have taken up digital drawing/painting recently and love the flexibility and experimentally the digital medium provides. My work tends to be abstract expressionist with strong hints of cubist deconstruction of subjects and exploration of linear space.

How do you work? The process, the tools, the ideas, etc.

I tend to think in either broad themes working towards a cohesive series of work or with a more experimental and free form, steam of conscious approach. These two main approaches are also demarcated by the typical sizes I work in, when focused with a series I tend to create larger works, 2×3 feet or there about is typical on the small size for series work; whereas 8×10, 9×12, and 11×14 are go to sizes for more experimental work. With either though I tend to turn to oil painting, pencil, pastel, and radiograph/micro pens as my main tools.

What got you into doing this?

I think it all stems from my grandpa telling me how he was approached to work for Disney as an animator back in the day but he turned them down because he didn’t want to move his family away from WV. My grandpa was a good drawer and always made sure I had paper and pencil when I visited, but as an adult I do question that story about Disney, but regardless it fostered in me a love of art and a desire to draw since before I can really remember.

When did you start making your art?

I drew since I was a small kid, I would copy just about any cartoon character I took an interest in but my first proper class to learn to paint was when I was 14 with a local oil painter and antique shop owner.

Why do you make what you do?

I have a fundamental need to explore space, color, and form. To me these three elements represent the primordial constituents of art and it is my hope by focusing, omitting, and exaggerating each I can create new perceptions of emotional states and subjects.

Do you care to tell me about a recent project, or what you’re currently working on?

I am currently doing a series of 15 portrait drawings in a cubist style, each a member of the current White House administration.

What is your proudest accomplishment or most signature piece?

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus El Savior Christ as Seen by an Outsider, a large scale painting I begun at the very end of my undergraduate studies and finished afterwards, it was purchased in 2012 by a collector in Alexandria VA. I really took a chance with this piece and drastically changed subject and style after creating my capstone series and the result is still one of my robust works; incorporating a strong style that I am still cultivating and a deep metaphorical symbology that captures my own beliefs and idiosyncrasies.

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus El Savior Christ as Seen by an Outsider
The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus El Savior Christ as Seen by an Outsider – oil on canvas, 5’x5′

Who are your biggest influences?

Not to be cliche but Picasso did influence me, as a teenager studying Guernica for a class made me really developed an interest in modern art and his cubist works propelled me to explore Braque, DuChamp, and Winifred Knight as my appreciation of modern art deepened. I also turn to Impressionist painters, most especially Degas and Cassatt as I develop my figurative work, and modern artists like Barnaby Furnas and Larry Rivers.

Do you have a favorite artwork that you’ve done?

Probably The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus El Savior Christ as Seen by an Outsider, I have a fascination with the iconography of Christ and the people around him, so that piece really kicked off a subject exploration that is still on going and informs a lot of my experimental work.


Failure is important, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zones and try different things, if you aren’t making some pieces that suck then you aren’t making enough.

Blake Hughes

Do you have a favorite artwork that someone else did?

Guernica will always hold a special place in my heart but I think my favorite piece I’ve discovered organically and have had a chance to see in person it is Larry River’s The Greatest Homosexual.

What art do you most identify with?

Abstract expressionism and most any contemporary abstract art that conveys a strong sense of purpose, subject, space, and/or color.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Decent pencils and a good sharpener, I really do find drawing to be the basis for most of my skills and working on preemptive sketches and drawings helps the entire process.

18h3,8m0s by Blake Hughes
18h3,8m0s by Blake Hughes – oil on canvas, 4’x4′

Why this kind of art?

It is the most natural way for me to express myself, through the color and texture of oil paint I can find ways to convey space, movement, and emotion.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Just keep creating, no matter what, even if no one sees it or likes it keep creating something, keep developing your skills, keep experimenting and trying new things so long as it makes you happy.

Finally, what’s an important lesson you have learned while making your art that you’d like to pass along to others?

Failure is important, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zones and try different things, if you aren’t making some pieces that suck then you aren’t making enough.

To learn more about the artist, or see more of their work, you can click here to visit their site.

You can also click here to see his work on SaatchiArt.

If you like this article, considered leaving a comment or sharing it on your favorite social media platforms.

All the best,

Coty Schwabe

Hulk Comic Cover is etched glass Interviews

Artist Interview: Sherry Brown

Sherry Brown, etched glass artist out of texas
Sherry Brown, etched glass artist out of texas

Today’s interview is with Sherry Brown out of Texas.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

My name Sherry Brown. I am from Texas. I have a husband of 27 years, 3 children and 2 granddaughters.

What type of work do you normally do?

I etch glass with a Dremel Rotary Tool.

How do you work? The process, the tools, the ideas, etc.

I use a Dremel 4000, a Flexshaft attachment and various bits. I etch on extra thick glass. In my area, it’s called Hail Glass.
I first get the picture printed the right size to fit the glass. Look at all the colors and shading carefully. I etch the brightest color first and change the tips to do up to 4 shades.

What got you into doing this?

I started by accident really. I got the Dremel for Christmas and intended to use it for woodworking. I read in the Owner’s manual that one of the bits was for etching. So I found an old frame that I had and etched a giraffe. I thought it was good so I etched my son’s dog. I asked my, then, 3 year old granddaughter who it was and she said his name without hesitation. I figured that etching was good, if the toughest critic passed it. A friend came over a few days later. A swan etching, I had done that day, was on the table and he asked to buy it. So, my business, Granny’s Grazed Glass was started.

8x10 in. etching of an Incredible Hulk comic book cover

8×10 in. etching of an Incredible Hulk comic book cover

When did you start making your art?

I started in January 2017.

Why do you make what you do?

I think that it is beautiful and unique and people seem to like it.

Do you care to tell me about a recent project, or what you’re currently working on?

Most recently, I made 3 sets of 12, 3 1/2″, round, glass ornaments. Each one etched with a different day, from The 12 Days of Christmas song.

What is your proudest accomplishment or most signature piece?

It was an X-Men comic book cover on 36×28 in. glass. I bought the comic. Took it to a printing company and had them blow up the cover to the size I needed to fit the glass. It took several days to complete. It was a commissioned piece for someone in L.A.

Do you have a favorite artwork that you’ve done?

A circus carousel that I made from a light fixture with a beveled glass shade.

Do you have a favorite artwork that someone else did?

Van Gogh’s The Starry Night

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

The Dremel Rotary Tool and it’s attachments.

light fixture with beveled glass in the shape of circus carousel

Why this kind of art?

I used to draw and paint. I painted glass Christmas tree ornaments, mostly. I have Lupus and it started to affect my hands. I can no longer control a paintbrush or a pencil. Holding something that small makes my fingers cramp and twitch. The Flexshaft is larger than a big magic marker and large enough that I can hold and control it, on most days.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Wear a mask.

Finally, what’s an important lesson you have learned while making your art that you’d like to pass along to others?

Everyone has some kind of gift to give to the world. Cooking, building, game programming, sewing, art. You just have to try new things until you figure out what it is.

To learn more about the artist, or see more of their work, you can click here to visit their site.

If you like this article, considered leaving a comment or sharing it on your favorite social media platforms.

All the best,

Coty Schwabe

"Aquila Smokes" - multiple 2x3 prints mounted on acrylic pieces and secured to 12x12 acrylic sheet at varying heights Interviews

Artist Interview: Steve Gracy

Artist Steve Gracy
Artist Steve Gracy

Today’s interview is with Steve Gracy. He was born in Germany in 1975 and moved to the states in 1977. He grew up and currently lives in Wichita, KS where he runs his studio, shooting primarily Boudoir, Erotica and Abstract photography.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

I actually started in the music world. Classical and jazz trombone. Then I got into writing, recording and producing. After about 25 years I got pretty burned out. I enjoyed it but it was a huge struggle to make a living with. A few years later I found myself enjoying photography as a hobby, and after my son was born I really started to catch the bug. I stumbled onto a video about lighting and something really clicked. I became obsessed from that point on. Not too long after that I was able to start earning income from it. The funny thing is that I had more success in the first couple years of doing photography than I did the entire 25 years of my music career. Best decision I ever made.

What type of work do you normally do?

I’m a boudoir and artistic nude photographer, so most of my work is on the risqué side.

How do you work? The process, the tools, the ideas, etc.

I usually start with just little nuggets of ideas. Very rarely do I get a clear image in my head beforehand. Everything is inspired by the subject. I build everything around her and the outfits she brings in to work with. I spend a lot of time on the lighting, getting everything just the way I want it right in the camera. Lately I’m keeping in mind what I want to do with the images after I print them, leaving space to play with resin and paint. That’s where the real fun begins.

"Bettye Resin 01" - resin, acrylic paint and alcohol inks on mounted 6x9 print.

“Bettye Resin 01” – resin, acrylic paint and alcohol inks on mounted 6×9 print.

What got you into doing this?

I’m constantly looking outside of the photography realm for inspiration in my work. I stumbled onto some artists doing acrylic pours and my brain instantly started looking for ways to incorporate that into my work.

When did you start making your art?

The last couple years I started looking for ways to make my photography more unique and interesting. First I experimented with turning an image into multiple pieces and creating a 3 dimensional collage with them and that has evolved a bit since I started. But more recently I started getting into resin coating and embellishing prints with acrylic paint and alcohol inks. There are so many avenues to take with this, I’m really excited to keep exploring the possibilities.

Why do you make what you do?

I’m always after that “wow” factor. That’s something I’ve always loved giving my clients. And I’ve always been the type to keep pushing the envelope. I got obsessed with lighting and finding creative ways to use it, now I’m becoming obsessed with creating more dimension in my work after it leaves the camera. Photoshop just isn’t that satisfying to me. I did that for many years and I feel like my body has suffered from all the endless hours of sitting in front of a screen clicking a mouse. I feel more alive and creative working with tangible items, moving, making a mess.

Who are your biggest influences?

Originally, Zack Arias is the photographer who really opened my eyes to the possibilities of photography and all the things you can do with just one light when you understand how light works. But as far as abstract art I’ve been recently obsessed with John Beckley’s work. And there are numerous pieces that have inspired me that I’ve never found out who the artist is.

Do you have a favorite artwork that you’ve done?

I think I’d be hard pressed to pick just one. I currently have a folder with about a hundred of my all time favorites from over the years.

"Aquila Smokes" - multiple 2x3 prints mounted on acrylic pieces and secured to 12x12 acrylic sheet at varying heights

“Aquila Smokes” – multiple 2×3 prints mounted on acrylic pieces and secured to 12×12 acrylic sheet at varying heights

What art do you most identify with?

Probably erotic and abstract. I tend to gravitate in those directions.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Foam core board and Pringles cans. They’re great for creating interesting lighting. In fact, in one of the pieces I sent if you look close you can see that 4-barreled light contraption is made out of Pringles cans with colored gels on the ends, secured to my strobe. I love that kind of stuff.

Why this kind of art?

This has just been the natural progression my work has taken. My one goal has been to create the kind of work that I would want hanging on my walls to look at every day. And here we are.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong”. This actually comes from my trombone professor, Russell Widener, who I studied with from the age of 11 all the way through college. I’ve found that advice applicable in so many areas of my life and it’s had a tremendous impact on how I approach my work. Once I started taking it seriously, I was all in.

Finally, what’s an important lesson you have learned while making your art that you’d like to pass along to others?

The sooner you can abandon tradition the better. Yes, it’s important to learn the fundamentals and the history behind whatever skill you’ve chosen as your mouthpiece. But for crying out loud, just create whatever the hell you feel like creating. If you break some kind of rule, so what. As long as you are creating something meaningful to you and it satisfies your urge to create, that’s really all that matters. Time will refine your technique and you will be much happier. And you’ll naturally connect with people who resonate with your work. Those are the people whose opinions matter. 

To learn more about the artist, or see more of their work, you can visit their site by going to http://www.stevegracy.com.

If you like this article, considered leaving a comment or sharing it on your favorite social media platforms.

All the best,

Coty Schwabe