Monday, March 9, 2009

Meet Connie of HossLass Art

Our featured interviewee this week is Connie of Hosslass Art. Connie is based in Burleson, Texas and opened her Etsy shop in August of 2007.

How did you choose your shop name?
Well, I've always been a horse girl for most of my life, I kept thinking of unique names to try. Using my name in one of these formats (, ....designs, just didn't appeal to me. One day I was online reading through a message board and saw a username *****lass, and I thought, "Hosslass"! And I've used it ever since!

Desert Runners Tres

What is your specialty and what drew you to it?
I create watercolor pencil paintings and make embellished crafts using my art works, both equally! I feel a certain freedom not locking myself into "just" being a painter, or "just" being a crafter. I love being able to combine both. As a life long animal lover, especially horses, horse art is becoming my specialty. I have always had such a strong bond with horses, and feel so privileged to have them in my life.

I only have been painting in recent years, (after about 25 years of not doing any kind of art, I used to draw and paint a ton when I was growing up), so I'm learning about art all over again. It's fascinating! However, as much as I love painting horses, I also want to do well with wildlife and landscape subjects. Being outdoors in nature plays a huge part in my daily life!. I plan on completing more paintings and gift art in those areas as well.

The Polite Offering

I asked Connie to talk a little about her "The Polite Offering" picture. What inspired the “birth” of this item?
When I was forming art to promote in my shop, I explored ideas for gift items with my own unique twists. I was looking through some art supplies from a seller on Ebay and saw these larger vinyl bookmark sleeves. From there I got the idea to create embellished original painting bookmarks as my signature functional gift art. That way I could combine the desire to create art with beads and natural stones as a special touch to enhance the miniature painting. I don't really want to make jewelry since there are so many others who are much more talented at doing that than me! I am always trying to think of creating unique art pieces that offer a soothing, peaceful beauty with a functional use! Why can't you use something and enjoy original art at the same time?

For this particular bookmark painting, I portrayed a bonding concept between horse and human called "the horseman's handshake". Although I had been around horses since my teenage years (got my first horse at 16) and worked for all sorts of trainers and farms, vets, through many years, in 1997 I got a horse (as a "gift") that showed me I really didn't know as much as I thought I did! She was a reality check that would kick me between the teeth, literally (no wonder her previous owner gave her away to me)!

As a result, I sought out training programs to help me survive handling this horse. It was then I discovered the world of natural horsemanship (NH) which teaches people to understand the way horses really think and treat them with respect, kindness and feel (instead of fear, force and intimidation which is what most "traditional" horse training methods teach). One concept in NH circles is to offer the horse to check you out first, instead of the human just marching up and handling the horse without checking what the horse is thinking. By offering the back of the hand toward the horse and waiting to see if the horse will touch the person first is a very polite, respectful gesture to the horse. It goes a long way to the horse in building trust in the human. It's such a little thing, but it means so much for the horse. In this painting I wanted to portray this small but important gesture that I've learned to mean so much! Hence the name of the painting "The Polite Offering".

What is your favorite part of the process of creating your item?
Once I get the composition laid out and colors I will use, I think my favorite process is the actual painting, figuring out which color goes where and watching the interaction of the colors and water effects. I also enjoy having the rush of ideas about using a little different painting technique here, experimenting with a different color there while I'm "in the moment" of painting! I so enjoy seeing the subject come to life with color and depth, it's like hiking down a trail that I have a pretty good idea of where I'm going and seeing some great scenery surprises along the way!

Please briefly describe a workday in your “studio” and how you created this item.
For this bookmark, the process starts first with a visual image I get in my head of the finished product. This is my guideline. I would then look for reference photos in my magazines or online for colors, values, lighting, structures and see what says "yea that will work!" (I do not ever copy outright any subject from a copyright image). Then I usually make a drawing of the composition for the painting. For some paintings, I will first do a pencil tonal/value sketch drawing before painting. This helps me get a better guide for color values later on.

Then I usually lay a underpainting neutral color on the main subject. With horses or any animal I paint, I always start with the eyes; the eyes are what will balance the structure of the rest of the profile. I then will paint a basic tonal painting and then leave the painting alone for a while. I often paint a little, then go away for a while and then come back and see the painting with "fresh" eyes. I may leave the painting in this kind of state for a couple of days if I feel the need!

Eventually the painting gets to a point where I have to consider it finished, otherwise I run the risk of over tweaking and muddying up everything! For the bookmarks, I often will work with beading arrangements on paper while I'm taking a break from painting. That way I can bounce between the two. Once the painting is finished, I will then create the bookmark tassel with the bead arrangement I decided on. I usually do all the sewing of the beads in one sitting. Then I add glue to all the stitching and allow that to dry overnight before slipping in the miniature painting in the sleeve and finally, the beaded bookmark painting is finished!
Backcountry Lunch Break

If this item is part of a special line that you do, has there been an evolution in your process? For example, if we were to compare the first one you made to this one, what differences would there be, if any?
I would say that the bookmarks are always being improved on. My first couple of bookmark paintings I hadn't painted much with the type of paper used (lenox 100 cotton rag, printmaker paper) so it was an experiment to see how the watercolor pencil paint would react! I also hadn't done much beading, esp. wrapping around a 2mm leather cord. I just figured I would learn as I go and make it work! I now have a much better feel for the paper and am better about sewing beads on the leather cord. I now know which size and shape beads work best and my future bookmarks will use silk cord instead of wire for sewing (I think will offer a softer more finished look). I also first used some simple horse charms and now am experimenting with the matching glass pendants on the tassel end instead, as in the featured bookmark. I now have ideas of different "levels" of bookmarks I know I can create to offer in different price ranges. Everything is always such a work in process, and I love it!!


Anonymous said...

awesome post and I love that cake too!! amazing

MooreMagnets said...

Great interview with a very talented artist!!