Saturday, May 7, 2011

Interview with Artists I Admire: Elke Hutchens

I first saw Elke's art about two years ago, and I was really impressed. When I contacted her for this interview, I also discovered she is a lovely person!

Have you received formal education in art?

Yes, I was born and raised in Germany, and I gained my formal art education at the Hamburg Institute of Fine Art and Graphic Design. Upon moving to the United States, I continued my art education at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

What are the major influences on your work and how would you describe your style?

My work is influenced by a blend of the practical and passionate, both European and American. Early on, the classic, historical architecture and sculpture of European cities fascinated me. I’ve now lived in Alaska, Hawaii, Virginia, Colorado, Oregon and California. Each location has left varied, vivid, and lasting impressions of persons, places and things that I permanently express in art form. Intrigued by various cultures and their respective art forms, I may be best known by the faces I create, yet pure abstract forms have become increasingly important to me. My art pieces reflect variety and change, so my style can be called eclectic, very much like my life!

What are the things that inspire you? Do you think the place where you live plays a role?

Beauty inspires me. For as long as I can remember, I have recognized lines and forms that are naturally "in harmony" visually. I gravitate towards beauty—a mountain, a beach, a bridge or just a simple pencil line. Whatever catches my eye in the world around me, moves and inspires me. Similar to a musician who has an ear for a pure note, I am naturally drawn to the visually pure that is seen by the eye. I have always tried (and have been mostly successful) to live in peaceful and beautiful places. My home, now, is in a mountain valley in Southern California at 5,000 feet elevation. Every day I am in awe of the beauty, colors and textures that surround me. Pure inspiration!

How do you choose the colors for your art?

My color palette started out in a rather classical way: bronze, pewter, gold, silver- stone tones, earth tones. But, as my exploration of abstract and pure art forms has increased, so has my appreciation of color—the more vivid, the better. I have grown to appreciate contrast. The almost shocking presence of a bright, commanding color breathes life into an otherwise monochromatic setting.

What is your medium?

Definitely clay, only clay! I have always loved and even "needed" pliable, workable clay. It responds immediately—creative vision travels from my brain through my hands and translates into emerging art form, seamlessly. Some would call it an intimate connection, the way I gently move and coax it, and the way it ’hears’ and responds to me. Before I know it, the picture in my minds-eye becomes tangible and I am looking at a three-dimensional piece of clay that reflects my vision. The clay must be water based! Oil based clays, to me, are like bubble gum—if you push here it bulges there. Once a piece is designed in clay, the process of refining and embellishing can begin and that is a vast and varied process. For me, art starts with clay, which makes me feel more connected to life on earth just by touching it.

Would you say your art is affordable? Is that important to you?

Affordability is very important to me! Art, and sculpture particularly, has to be seen, it has to be touched. It is extremely rewarding to know it is being experienced and appreciated by people from all walks of life. Currently, most of my art work is not one-of-a-kind. The pieces are cast from molds so we can produce multiples that are typically available in limited editions of 75. This approach assures my work is
affordable to most everyone.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Free time? I seem to have less and less of that. I enjoy being with my husband, my children and grandchildren. It’s such fun to teach the little ones about art. I appreciate my friendships, good memories and laughter. I enjoy being part of nature, hiking, and taking the time to discover the obscure—the tangible, small pieces that are a part of the big puzzle that make up the beauty and harmony of our planet.

Thank you very much Elke for this interview! I enjoyed it greatly and I am sure the readers of my blog will, too.

You can find a great collection of Elke's art in her Etsy shop.


  1. Dear Demi,
    This came out much more impressive than I could ever have dreamed of! Thank you so much for taking the time to feature my work and my thoughts.
    Best regards,

  2. great feature!thanks for sharing!

  3. great interview! I love the forms and the use of bold colors, green is my favorite :-)

  4. oh my, your blog is absolutely ravishing.
    i am glad you did this.

  5. Thank you my lovely! It took me the whole weekend, but I think it looks better now. Kisses!

  6. Thank you all for your kind words!
    It means so much to be recognized
    by my peers.
    And, Demi, your blog is a piece of
    art, in itself!

  7. Many thanks to both of you for sharing!

  8. That was a great interview!!
    I love Elke's bold use of colour.

  9. The pictures are great, but seeing Elke's work in real life is even better. Her broad scope and skill for creative art sculpture is heartfelt and very impressive. Anyone who has one of her pieces in their home or office is fortunate. I'm glad to say that I am one of those who does!