21 Under 31 | Whitney Michelle Hall


ART EDUCATION: I took three years of formal drawing and painting at Palomar College in San Diego. Two of my strongest influences and mentors have been Michael Steirnagle, with whom I spent three semesters in California, and Robert Moore, whom I have studied under for the past year. In 2008 I began painting full time, and I also started teaching drawing and painting. Teaching has taught me more than I would ever have learned as a student.

STYLE: Contemporary impressionism. I have always been drawn to the Russian and modern California impressionists. I consider “western” and “wildlife” my subjects, not my style.

Red Sky, oil, 18 x 24.

INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WINNING PAINTING: An Appaloosa horse in full Nez Percé ceremonial dress that I saw at a cultural festival in nearby Butte, MT. He had this dynamic energy and dignity, and I knew I had to paint him. The swing of the beads and fringe provided a great abstract movement to perfectly complement his posture and gave me that pop of color that I love.

SECOND-CHOICE CAREER: Novelist or zoologist.

BEST ADVICE RECEIVED: When one of my first instructors moved into a new style, I asked him what inspired the change. I expected something technical and artsy, but what he said was, “I’ve just decided to have more fun and take advantage of what I do well.” The statement really struck me, and it comes back to me whenever I catch myself being into perfectionism or painting for someone other than myself.

CREATIVE SPARK: Dramatic light and color, especially reflective light. I prefer animal subjects because they are not self-conscious. Animals are completely natural and honest when you work with them. That creates an interesting challenge.

ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU: I am not a quiet studio painter. I play loud, active music and dance at the easel or sing to myself. If I am not in the mood for music, I listen to stacks and stacks of audio books—everything from classics to history to popular fiction.

BIGGEST FEAR: Deep water where I cannot touch bottom—despite the fact that I grew up near the ocean.

PET PEEVE: Abandoned shopping carts in parking lots. I’m always taking back two or three strays when I return my own.

FUTURE GOALS: To go to Africa or Asia to photograph and paint the wildlife. Also I want to have a larger easel and a studio with a high ceiling for it.

PRICE RANGE: $900 to $3,000.

REPRESENTATION: West Lives On Gallery, Jackson, WY; www.whitneymhall.com.

Featured in September 2011.