I met up with Collin Hatton just as he was in the process of moving studios. This is Part I of his studio visit. We talked about his studio, his process, his current work and where it could lead.
F: You were talking about a screen. Are these found screens?
CH: Its a fine mesh screen. They’re basically window screens. I’m creating a literal interference pattern by putting the screens over one another and that creates a moire pattern, an interference pattern. They’re two grids at a different angle and I’m pushing paint through it and modeling the paint in different ways to create different effects. It creates a different sort of materiality and surface and visual effect. It’s an interesting combination between a strong visual effect and a strong material effect which synthesizes things that have always been a part of my practice.
F: What is your process like? Are you layering these surfaces on top of each other and squeegee-ing it through?
CH: I use a palette knife and push it through. I’m not literally printing through that screen. I’m making some sort of decision about how I’m creating it. In this one, I used gesso as the first layer and made that pattern. Then I sprayed the paint on top of it to interact, knowing that the raw canvas with the gesso will push the screen. This one shows the process more evidently.
F: When you sprayed the canvas, was the gesso wet? Is that how you get that spackling effect?
CH: No, it was more of the way I sprayed it. I was at a distance. I wanted to create that shift from pink to the purple. I put a little direction on it to get a little bit of the directional spray thing.
F: In terms of the heavier pieces where it seems like your hand is more involved, I mean your hand is still very involved in the other pieces but you kind of let the material dictate a lot of what you’re doing.
CH: Yeah, its a similar process. It’s maybe not as evident as that one. This one is stripped down to its process, like this one hides it a little bit more, but it’s still, for me, about that interaction between the materiality and the image interacting and fusing together in some way. I think a big part of these paintings is treating them, treating the paintings as images as well as objects and how those objects react in space to a view who’s moving around them, who’s moving to them, and back. The viewing distance, I think, matters and affects the paintings.
F: Completely, but even photographing them because they are very flat and 2-dimensional and then this has such a 3-dimensional feel to it. It’s almost completely different.
CH: Yeah, which is the exciting part about playing around with some of these surfaces. They really do sort of oscillate between image, object and that sort of ambulatory experience of them changes, the image you perceive the image. It’s those kinds of general things that these paintings in particular are dealing with and in the more recent work, I started making shaped paintings for the first time. I just did these two this weekend.
F: Do you un-stretch the canvas and then stretch it back?
CH: Well, if I am going to do the staining effects, I’ll do something with the raw material. I’ll alter it in some way and then stretch it and then apply it
F: Along with the architecture, the square or rectangle, you kind of play off of that image.
CH: I try to create some sort of perceptual effect with either a perceptual effect of the rectangle itself or the way the lights are modeled and the way it interacts with the raw material and those kind of layers of paint.. This is one of the older pieces…this and that one over there, the smaller black one. This painting was sort of a spin off of this body of work that uses that kind of motif but these are really heavily masked off and I cut everything by hand. I do that with all the paintings actually. Anything thats masked, I don’t just tape off. I’ll mask out the whole surface and then cut everything. Draw everything out and then cut it away. It’s just how I’ve done things for awhile. These like this are simple to cut. Ones like this become tedious, and then that has a few layers of it.
F: But you like working on the raw canvas.
CH: Yeah, I guess thats a new thing too. In some ways, it’s like getting out of school and having less time to work. You have to make things more efficient that same way, and that for me became seeing what I can do. The older paintings I was making in grad school had like 20 layers of gesso. You couldn’t see the weave of the canvas. They were really a lot about surface and what I could do purely with the surface of the effects of painting. That stuff is still present. I just started it in a different way; The process begins with the raw materials, which I think is a fun way to explore it. I’m really interested in some of the staining things I’m doing, because it really is this fusion of image and object when the paint becomes part of the support. I’ve been playing with the stain effects and in different ways. This black painting is all staining to some extent too, it’s building up layers of stain.
F: It’s interesting because then you see the thickness. It literally becomes the volume of the painting and that plays into the materiality of it as well. Then you’re also playing with very thin layers.
CH: Yeah, that’s like black stain canvas. I’m playing with the framed edge and that being a way to treat the painting as an object even more so than showing a raw canvas, staining the sides, painting the sides, doing those things. I feel in a really general sense, my practice is moving more towards sculpture and maybe that’s where the shaped canvas are starting to happen. That’s so new, I don’t know how it’s going to play out. Those are experiments I did yesterday, so I still feel like I’m being pulled toward sculpture, if any direction, I can sort of alter things and play with perception of the square and the perception of the rectangle
You can find more of Collin Hatton’s work at www.williamcollinhatton.com