By Bonnie Gangelhoff
When Andrée Hudson was in elementary school, she was fond of using her family’s poodle, Doggie, as a model for her drawings. Hudson admits that, on occasion, she tied Doggie’s leash to a table leg to ensure his availability. In the beginning, she sketched the curly-haired pooch in crayon, but eventually she graduated to pencil drawings. Many years later Hudson would go on to earn a degree in illustration and visual communication from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. “I can’t remember any time in my life when I wasn’t an artist,” she says.
Early in her art career, she worked as a medical illustrator, showing a talent for capturing the human figure and the skeletal form. In her spare time Hudson attended anatomy classes and nurtured her love of fine art, painting portraits and figures. But 10 years ago, when she moved from San Francisco to Colorado, settling near the Rocky Mountains, her subject matter took a drastic turn. “When I first moved to Colorado, I noticed that so many painters characterized the West as brown,” Hudson says. “But to me the West seemed full of color. I embraced what was around me. I practically have bison in my backyard.”
Today Hudson is known for her imaginative take on contemporary western life. Her bold and energetic brush strokes capture cattle, cowgirls, and various slices of ranch routines and rituals. In fact, she’s a regular visitor to Colorado ranches and attends cattle drives, where she snaps hundreds of reference photographs of lumbering longhorns and graceful mustangs from the backs of pickup trucks. “I am always trying to convey excitement and energy in my paintings. I don’t want people to be bored,” Hudson says.
Even though her work is gestural and loose, Hudson says she is a stickler for detail when it comes to precise proportions and representations of anatomy, both human and animal. She attributes this penchant for precision to her extensive medical illustration experience, she says.
As this story was going to press, Waxlander Gallery in Santa Fe had just opened a show of nearly 50 new paintings by Hudson. When collectors and art lovers entered the show, the first thing they saw was RUSH HOUR, a dramatic, large-scale painting depicting longhorns on the move. Gallery director Bonnie French says people saw the painting and all they could say is “wow.” “There was so much excitement in the gallery for Andrée’s paintings. People are totally taken by the vibrancy of her work. They can feel the movement of her horses and longhorns. But they can also feel the opposite mood, like the calm in one of her paintings of a beautiful woman. Her work seems to touch everyone on a visual and an emotional level.”
Hudson says that her work has evolved in satisfying ways over the years. These days, for example, she feels comfortable expressing her own visions of the West, using color palettes that reflect the emotions she experiences at the time she creates a work instead of a realistic rendering. French, who notes that Waxlander Gallery has represented the artist for four years, says she has also noticed other changes. “Over the years Andrée has included more movement in her work, and she takes more and more risks.”
Hudson pauses for a moment when asked about her future goals. “I don’t always think about goals. I just want to keep pushing myself. I guess I just keep going like a hedgehog every day,” she says. “But I would like to be in a museum one day, hanging next to paintings by John Nieto and Ted Waddell.”
Altamira Fine Art, Jackson, WY; Waxlander Art Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Mirada Fine Art Gallery, Indian Hills, CO; RED Contemporary, Steamboat Springs, CO.
Historic Canyon Road Paint Out, Santa Fe, NM, October 15.
Group holiday show, Waxlander Art Gallery, November 20-January 1, 2012.
Group holiday show, Mirada Fine Art Gallery, November 26-January 1, 2012.
Solo show, RED Contemporary, March 7-31, 2012.
Featured as an “Artist to Watch” in October 2011.