Whimsical beauty: Bringing animals to life through mixed-media

Whimsical beauty: Bringing animals to life through mixed-media

Mixing paint, paper and fabric, Ande Hall highlights what makes animals special.

For artist and veterinarian Dr. Ande Hill Johnson, now Ande Hall, inspiration is found everywhere. From the blooms in her backyard garden, to birds or animals she sees around her Hutchinson, Kansas, home, she’s inspired by the visual world around her, striving to create “lively and eclectic contemporary paintings that celebrate life with style, soul and a wink.” Her work, which combines both paint and fabric, does just that.

"Paisleylusian," Ande Hall (Photo courtesy of artist)

A self-taught artist, Hall has been painting for five years, making the jump to full-time painting almost a year and a half ago. A lifetime of sewing projects—mostly costumes, but also upholstery, dolls, curtains, and ball gowns—gave Hall a surplus of fabric to work with. While practicing medicine in New Mexico, Hall even sewed her own fenestrated drapes from colorful cotton prints to use while performing low cost spay-neuters.

“My drapes were so much more fun to look at than the same old hospital blue,” she says.

"Jumping for Joy," Ande Hall (Photo courtesy of artist)

After decades of veterinary practice and raising her children in New Mexico, Hall moved to Kansas to marry Patrick Hall, a college volleyball coach she had met online. He was very supportive of her desire to explore the world of art. One of the ways she chose to do that was by taking a digital imagery class at the local college, an experience that would eventually inspire her use of fabrics in her art.

“One of the key features of digital imagery is layering. I think working in Photoshop influenced my evolution as a painter, especially the fascination with manipulating translucency and opacity,” she says.

So she began incorporating fabric into her paintings, carefully pairing the fabric’s pattern to the animal subject.

“Some patterns readily lend themselves to simulating coat patterns, such as brindle or dappled gray, but other times I use the fabric pattern in a more whimsical way, such as using a vintage yellow rose pattern for a Jersey cow,” Hall says.

"Rosy the Jersey," Ande Hall (Photo courtesy of artist)

Hall’s “Paisley Paws de Deux,” was featured on the March 15 cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The March 15 cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

“[That painting] is definitely one of my favorites. I like the colors, and I think the piece captures the grace of greyhounds,” she says. “I also like the toenails. Both dogs are wearing nail polish, a detail that’s only visible on close inspection.”

Other favorite paintings include “Requiem for a Pachyderm” and “Bechuanaland Bull,” which are part of a series that calls attention to the endangered status of elephants and rhinos.

"Requiem for a Pachyderm," Ande Hall (Photo courtesy of artist)

“I wanted to capture their majesty, but also their vulnerability and fragility,” Hall says.  ‘Requiem for a Pachyderm’ is a portrait of a female elephant that incorporates torn fragments of vintage sheet music, and also the titles ‘Unfinished Symphony’ and ‘Deep River.'"

“Bechuanaland Bull” features an elephant with an original 1964 map of Africa. Obsolete colonial country names such as Rhodesia and Bechuanaland are visible in the elephant’s body. Nestled into the elephant’s wings is the phrase, “Please don’t buy ivory” in 11 different languages."Bechuanaland Bull," Ande Hall (Photo courtesy of artist)

To see more of Hall’s work, visit andehallart.com.