The Cosmic Collage
Interview with Alice Baca
Merging the worlds of flora, fauna, and dreams, Hannah Natali's art is a vision of endless possibilities. This self described gypsy artist uses her travel experiences to transform her dreams, full of beauty and color, into art through her own personal and unique perspective.
When and how did you realize that you wanted to dedicate your life to making and creating art?
Creating beauty has always been my life! While attending high school in the San Francisco Bay art became my passion. Inspired by graffiti artists in Oakland and SF, my imagination caught fire. I loved the idea that everything they painted was temporary. It opened my eyes to artistic passion, and showed me they were ultimately painting for themselves. One young woman, who wrote "Never," was particularly inspiring for me. She painted female figures, and wrote about her emotions and life experiences.
Are there any other artists in particular that have inspired you?
The first artist in my life was my Mother. Her large oil paintings are still some of the most magical dreamscapes I've ever seen. As for figurative artists, I've been influenced by a number of artists, from Egon Schiele, to Charmaine Olivia, to street artists Swoon and Herakut. Enamored by surrealism and of course, Salvador Dali, I am fascinated by any artist who paints something usual in an unusual way.
The images you paint are truly magical. How do those images come to you? Can you talk a little bit about the process of turning an idea into a visual piece of art?
My dreams are lucid, and highly detailed. I've been a day dreamer my whole life as well. Being conscious of these dreams helps to form themes for series of works. Drawing my vision begins using a live model and incorporating magical elements. Once I have a sketch, bringing a dream to life as a painting begins with a short meditation, blessing my studio with Copal incense or rose water, and setting up a beautiful, inspirational environment.
You are a self described 'gypsy artist'. You travel and spend time in other cultures. How do those experiences manifest themselves in your art?
Being born on the big island of Hawaii was a magical experience that placed me in a community of travelers, dreamers and artists from the beginning. Flora and fauna, ancient symbols seen and dreamt of in my travels often accompany my paintings. Right now I am working on a few pieces inspired by the plant medicine and birds of Peru, where I spent this spring in the Sacred Valley.
My husband is half Peruvian and it's long been a dream of ours to visit Peru with our two boys so that they can experience their roots. Can you tell me a little more about your visit and your experience there?
Peru is the most mystical place I've ever been. On my viaje/trip through the Sacred Valley, I fell in love with the small city of Pisac and ended up painting a mural there in exchange for a place to live. The ancient wisdom of the Incas remains deeply ingrained in their culture. Astrological alignments, cosmology and the healing Shamanism of plant medicine are woven into the fabric of their lives.
I wanted to share with you a quote on creativity...
" A woman's creative ability is her most valuable asset, for it gives outwardly and it feeds her inwardly at every level: psychic, spiritual, mental, emotive and economic.
As we create, this wild mysterious being is creating us in return, filling us with love."
Can you share your thoughts on this? What role does making art and being creative play in your life?
I agree! Imagination creates community and value in this world. The process of creating art clears the mind and gives us an emotional and spiritual outlet. In this meditation, I feel closest to my true purpose and passion. Finishing a painting is the biggest reward of all, feeling mentally accomplished and spiritually on the right path of bringing more love and beauty into this world.
Are there times when you have creative "dry spells"? If so, what do you do to invoke the creative fire back or re-inspire your creative life?
One of my favorite quotes about inspiration is from Chuck Close:
“All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction.”
Do you have any projects or new shows that you would like to talk about?
Right now I'm really into experimenting with wood stains and textures. 'Su Majestad' is a new mixed media piece on panel, with a shamaness wearing an antelope skull and a headband of white roses. Using the natural wood grain as part of a visual element, I'm able to collaborate with organic patterns and shapes.
Also, in the works is a large canvas painting which includes a melanistic jaguar, goddess of OM, and deep, catlike energy. Pulling inspiration from plant medicine in the Peruvian Amazon and healing shamanism, she emanates divine femininity and healing power.