Review Me: Rick Hurst: Vibrant Design
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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Rick Hurst: Vibrant Design

Rick, many thanks for accepting our invitation for this interview, and taking the time to answer our questions. Tell us about your artistic background story and if there was a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as a visual artist?

Throughout my life, I have been the one who is different — totally deaf in a hearing world. Art has been my greatest gift, my refuge, and my salvation. Expressing my innate creativity is my defense against adversity, hardship, and discrimination. At the same time, it allows me to explore my inner self, seek the strength of purpose, and reveal the world I see in others.
I was never aware of my heightened visual sense, and never imagined it would lead me into the art world - not until, at age 12, I won a prize for a painted foot-high ceramic rooster entered into a community contest. My color palette was praised as more imaginative than any of the other older contestants. From that moment, I knew that art would forever be a part of my life.

You talk about your art so pleasantly and delicately that we can clearly understand you live with your art. You can find your inner voice and change it into art, indeed. Was there ever a moment of doubt to question your art career entirely?

My intense childhood interest in art eventually led to a Graphic Arts degree. However, I could never find a job in the arts; instead, I spent 25 years in federal service as a paralegal. Still, a yearning for art was always with me.
Late in my work career, I traveled to see the art masterpieces of Europe I had only seen and studies in art books. It was pure elation and inspiration to wander Monet’s Giverny garden, roam DaVinci’s Tuscan Hills, gaze across Van Gogh’s sunflower fields, and explore Picasso’s retreat. My passion for art was rekindled.
After retirement, I moved to the Gulf Coast, returning to my earlier passion, to pursue an art career in abstracts, using acrylics and watercolors. I became fascinated with the iPad and manipulating images of my own artwork. Very quickly, I plunged into the world of digital design, now focused on my original photography.

It seems your art studio is a place where you can shut out the world, and you’re there on your own to think and create. What is your daily routine when working in your studio?

My daily studio routine varies in when and what I do, but usually involves a variety of tasks: checking status online (website, social media, email/texts); reviewing exhibitions and new calls for artists; reviewing recent and past photos for inspiration; and most importantly contemplating a new artwork or continuing with a current design. Every moment outside the studio is another opportunity for inspiration and new photographs.
Branding, marketing, and maintaining an online presence are very demanding and time-consuming. My daily routine ensures I keep current with these requirements, but my highest priority is living and creating my art.

Now that your priority is living and creating art, take us through your process of making your artworks. How do you move from an idea to an artwork? Where does an artwork begin for you?

All of my designs begin with original photography that captures the beauty and spirit of nature and the real world. I meld these photos with digital artworks using multiple exposures, layers, color transformations, and art filters.
When I see something I want to photograph, it may or may not spark an idea for a new art piece at that moment, or perhaps it may trigger a memory of an earlier photo I might use with it. Just as often, my daily review of new and old photos will stir my creative process.
Each design is the result of an iterative process, constantly transforming images and adding in others until I am satisfied, or leaving a work in progress until another day.

To denote a mindset or a sensory experience, an artist may compose the features or concepts of the artworks or series uniformly or individually. Is there a central concept connecting all your works together or each series or artwork is unique?

I feel a natural energy in the world around me, which I see, especially in the vibrancy of colors, and I strive to sustain or enhance that energy in each design I create. I never really have a target image or tone/mood in mind. I may begin a design by selecting one photo that draws me to it, but then I follow where it leads, transforming colors and layering in other images as the developing piece demands.
The resulting digital design is unique, and is added to the thousands in my portfolio. I may then select new images to add online, or submit them in calls to artists for an exhibition.

Using art is not an esoteric debate, but something that you want to deliberately and freely reveal. Would you like to give a particular interpretation of your work to your viewers or you prefer to leave the whole interpretation to your audience?

Other people may not see the world as I do, but my wish is to stimulate their own imaginations, to have them look within and create their own interpretations of my designs. Each digital image is my personal expression of inspiration from the energies of the real world, explored and revealed through my own artistic imagination. Often I will add a short phrase to an image title to stimulate the viewer:
LABYRINTH - Feast on the complexities then explore your inner self
SANCTUARY - Let the solace of the ancients comfort
The VOID - On the brink of the cosmos
STELLAR REBIRTH – A guiding light in troubled times
My purpose is to interpret and reveal the universal energies I see to / in all who view my art — to awaken curiosity and prompt introspection, to feed their inner being, to have my designs resonate with them.

Are you inspired by any ideas in the real world? How do you seek and use inspiration for your works?

I carry my studio with me at all times, my artist’s tools of canvas, paint, and brushes left behind. Wherever I am, I use my iPhone to capture images and art apps with filters to manipulate them.
Nature and architecture are the foundation for many of my abstract designs: spirals from the Dali Museum DNA staircase merge with the domed ceiling from a Budapest spa and tropical flora to evoke the infinity of the cosmos, or restructure into a futuristic energy escape.
Organic elements can lead to amazing constructs: overlays of magnolia blossoms reveal a feminine torso or explode into a fantastical flower; stems from a bunch of grapes morph into a multi-patterned North Star ascending the heavens; a pond of Waterlilies at a neglected mansion melds with marshland scenes to become a colorful vignette of tranquility and contemplation.

Tell us about your subjects, Rick. How do you select your artworks subjects? Where they come from?

My iPhone is an extension of my artist’s eye. I capture images everywhere I go. Nature is my favorite subject - especially flowers, along with other flora and fauna. I am equally interested in the power and variety of architecture. Pattern intrigues me, but so does unexpected asymmetry. I am also drawn to both the macro and the micro. I never purposefully work toward a predefined goal in an artwork; rather, it is the process of image manipulation which guides me and pulls me along to produce the final artwork.

You see universal energies throughout your surrounding world, nature, the vibrancy of color, the vitality, and the strength of architecture, so your art will stick in viewers’ minds forever. Are there an artwork or series that you would like to be remembered for? And if yes, what is it?

An ongoing exploration of universal components in the origin of cosmic life and its evolution. Each artwork is a unique window into that continuum, anywhere from the first spark of life energy to the sophisticated harmony and complexity of the human mind.
My creative perspective and process are unique in the world of digital design. I see universal energies in the world around me - the life forces of nature, the vibrancy of color, the vitality and strength of architecture.
Digital designs are named after completion. I look for their relationships to my concepts of universal energies:
DRIFTING OPALESCENCE – The Vibrancy of Life Forces / The dispersion of mononuclear elements.
BLUE GROTTO - A Place Apart / Serenity in an idyllic setting, away from the chaos of the world.
PORT of ENTRY - Explore your Future / Multiple doorways, paths to be chosen.

Our readers are into the uniqueness of your digital art, and they are waiting for your future works. Any upcoming works or future projects that you would like to share with our readers?

While continuing with digital design, I recently began planning a series of abstracts using flowing acrylics on canvas. My artist’s hands are begging for manual work, and I want to explore the random patterns created with the flow.

Rick, what are your art influences? Who are your favorite contemporary or historical artists and why?

Picasso - abstracts that uplift the ordinary; bold colors in new and complex forms; staying true to his own path.
Monet - literally transforming nature into living art (Giverny); sharing that vision throughout his artwork.
Warhol - first recognized the use of computers in the design of digital art in 1984; reducing images to simpler shapes and colors.

If you could meet one of your ideal artists from the past, who would it be and what will you ask about?

Van Gogh What drives his passion for creating such unique art? What sustains his drive to paint despite the lack of public recognition during his lifetime?

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