When I decided to do some interviews of Maui artists I admire, Nancy was at the top of my list, and I was thrilled she agreed to do one. I wanted to know more about her and thought you, my readers, would enjoy learning about her too.
"A sense of excitement and a feeling of rhythm are experienced when viewing the artwork of Nancy Hoke. There is an underlying complexity in her work, yet a world of joy and silliness is also observed with clear-eyed honesty and imagination. Nancy has lived on Maui for thirty-two years and spent her early life in the Republic of Panama, She earned her BA with concentrations in art and anthropology from the University of Maryland in the 1970's. She incorporates the Afro/West Indian culture and tropical feel of Hawaii into her brightly colored naif/primitive paintings and her subject matter ranges from chickens to beach scenes to hula dancers, Hawaiian flora and fauna and mermaids in Chanel jackets. Her work is filled with wild boars, bananas, Pina Coladas, Hawaiian reef fish, islands, sea turtles, erupting volcanoes and just about anything else you can think of that occurs in the Pacific Ocean. Other parts of the world are also depicted. There are Nancy Hoke paintings, prints and greeting cards in hundreds and hundreds of places all over the world including Japan, Tahiti, Iceland, the UK and Abu Dhabi. They make people smile and be happy. They will make YOU smile and be happy too."
After working for other people I realized that it was important for me to work for myself. I had always dabbled with my creativity, doing projects when I could fit them in between jobs and finally I realized I'd better be an artist. or risk a lifetime of unfulfilment. It had never occurred to me that I could do something I loved for a living. I met a very smart person who owned a gallery and he encouraged me to keep painting and to not waste time sitting around in cafes drinking coffee . So I carried on.
2. What is the main challenge you face when beginning a painting?
Actually beginning a painting is one of the easy parts. My mantra is don't think too much, just start. I usually have a vague idea about what I'm aiming for but each painting grows almost by itself from that original thought. I don't aim for realism though my artwork is representational but I would rather have a great design with colors that love each other than a tree that looks just like the tree in my backyard.
Three quarters of the way through the painting I've invested too much time to quit and the painting is proving to be a winner is when I know I'm almost there. I VERY rarely bag a painting. I just keep painting until it's all good.
4. How has painting influenced your life?
It's very simple. Without art I would be a piece of miserable flotsam floating on the sea of life.. I can't think of any work I'd rather do.
I love the painting part the best but I also love it when other people say it makes them happy, especially if they buy it. Selling is fun.
6. What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I've already mentioned not sitting in cafes drinking coffee but also I was told to start a new painting every time I finished one. Keep it up and though every piece is not a roaring success every ten or so will be. You can't nail it every time but don't get discouraged. Each painting solves the problems of earlier paintings. It's an ongoing process. It's never over because there will always be problems to fix. And then you get better.
Matisse. He was funny and I would say most of my art is funny too. Also I love his colors and the way he puts composition and subject matter ahead of everything else.
8. Has your style changed over the years?
Not as much as you'd think. I've tried different mediums which of course affect style but since my motive has always been the same (do whatever the heck I want) I've stuck with the style I like best.
Not enough. I have my art in a few galleries and I have a card line which gets my art out there. I'm working on creating a couple of websites and I talk about myself a lot.
10. Where can people find your work? Gallery? Online?
You can find my work currently at Village Gifts and Gallery in Lahaina, Maui Hands in Paia and online at Nancy-hoke.pixels.com. I'm working on my Facebook business page so look for that soon. As soon as I can get Darice McGuire, artist and marketer extraordinaire, to help me since I'm technically challenged.
Village Gallery Profile Page
Fine Art America