Amanda K. Hawkins loves the painting process as much as the finished product, which is why she uploads all stages of her work to @mandahawk_studio on Instagram. The 27-year-old spoke to the Globe about the complexity of landscape paintings, her love of art history and art theory, and demystifying the studio process.
Q. How would you describe your paintings?
A. I would describe them most formally as abstract landscape paintings. To me, they’re really reflections of past experiences. I find that a lot of my work comes from some kind of adventure that I’ve had outside. I work from both mental imagery and actual physical film photographs. When I get into the studio, I kind of just reflect on that experience and that’s where a lot of the colors come from. Some do become really personal pieces, but ultimately they are abstract landscape paintings, if I had to categorize them into a genre.
Q. How do you take nature landscape and make it personal?
A. It’s hard to disconnect the two, to be quite honest. I find that I’ll go on a three-day backpacking trip or I’ll go on a day hike or an adventure to a new city, and those kind of experiences really resonate with me. Those are the things that I look forward to. Those are the things that I kind of like daydream about sometimes, or kind of like these other landscapes I haven’t been to or these experiences. So then when I get into the studio, it just very naturally starts to come to the surface.
Q. What is it about nature that appeals to you?
A. I find that I’ll get to a different city and somehow instead of the city showing up on the canvas, it’ll be the landscape on the outskirts. I think what it really comes down to is that the experiences that have resonated with me most are some of those more adventurous trips. I actually call it Type 2 fun, and that’s when you’re backpacking for three days and you’re just barely surviving, you have just enough water to get by, you have just enough food to get by. And it’s quite an experience. Half of you can’t wait to go home and just lie down in bed and the other half of you is so just enthralled in being out in the wilderness. I think it’s that experience that excites me the most and why most of my paintings end up being these mountainous landscapes.
Q. You share your color palettes, notebooks, and other parts of your process on Instagram. Why do you think it’s important to share that part of your work with the public?
A. I think it’s really important to show process. Part of the reason why I started blogging is because I wanted to demystify the studio process. I wanted to make it more approachable. I wanted to show people: This is what I do, this could be useful in your practice. I want to inspire people to also create, and by showing finished paintings I feel like that might not do so; that might actually intimidate people, and [make them] wonder: How did she get from point A to point B? So I really like to show the process. I find that I’m a very process-oriented person. So I do take a lot of notes. I read a lot of art theory. I read a lot of art history. I do a lot of drawings before I move onto the painting. So it’s really all part of that larger process of painting.