Spotlight-DeeDee Hooe "Was Drawn To It"

Lisa Strout, Art Consultant and Artist

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with local artist, DeeDee Hooe, who has three paintings in the current Tryst Gallery exhibit. DeeDee spent more than ten years as a muralist, working in both private homes and corporate environments, before she made the transition to working solely on canvas. Her work is uplifting, funky and makes me smile. I really enjoyed chatting with her; and finding out she is a dog lover (and rescuer) was icing on the cake. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

How did you get started making art?

I was drawn to it at six years old; I spent my childhood doing all sorts of creative things. When I had the opportunity to study art, I did so at Memphis State University, NOVA Community College, and I took some classes at The Corcoran. Years ago, I had a corporate job that became unrewarding, so I decided I would try to make a living doing wall murals. A muralist told me I should take Tole painting classes to help me learn shortcuts in mural painting.

After years of doing commissioned work, it took me awhile to find my voice as an artist. I looked at my passions, things that would keep me at the canvas and it clicked. I was finally able to paint for myself.

What is Tole painting?

Tole painting is German Folk painting that is basically a one stroke painting technique. You load

the brush certain ways to take in highlight, shading and base color all on one brush. The way you stroke gives you a blend. I don’t do Tole painting, but I incorporated some of those techniques into my own style.

Describe your work in general to people who have never seen it.

My work is contemporary and whimsical. I’m obsessed with nature as subject matter; I’m obsessed with the round shape. I like to sculpt with paint – make part of my painting three dimensional; I like exploring color and I like doing patterns. Oh - and the one piece bathing suit - I’m obsessed with that shape; I don’t know why, I just am.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by things I find in nature. Right now, for subject matter, I’m using rocks I brought home from Gloucester, MA, big beautiful granite rocks. Also, things related to the ocean and fresh waters too - crabs, frogs, etc. So that’s what inspires me - nature and round shapes, and that bathing suit.

What two artists influence you?

Early on, Georgia O’Keefe. Then I became very fond of Jennifer Bartlett. I currently have an interest in Romaine Brooks who has an exhibit in D.C.

What is your favorite color?

The tertiaries - magenta, turquoise and yellow green.

What are you reading?

Right now I’m into historical novels, but I did just purchase The Muse, which is a book about art; a novel about artists.

If you could invite any two people to coffee who would they be? Why?

I’d have to say Pablo Picasso; I would love to talk to him because of his intensity. And then, maybe the “Follow your Bliss” guy, author Joseph Campbell, see if I couldn’t get some answers.

What do you want people to know about you that isn’t art related?

That I am extremely passionate and concerned about our environment.  

Those trees - one of the pieces you have in the Tryst Gallery - how did you come up with that?

I love winter trees without leaves. The bark is fascinating. I’m a person who doesn’t focus on the big picture. I zero in on the details. I don’t just want to paint bark as it is. I can’t do it better than the tree.  I wanted to encourage the viewer to enjoy the amazing detail in the tree.  I assume if someone has seen the painting and found it interesting, then the next time they’re walking around and see bark it might connect.

When I was painting murals, I did a lot of nature scenes. I would talk to the people and tell them that even though most people assume tree trunks are brown, most really aren’t brown; they are grey. Young children always color them brown, and I thought, sometimes we don’t really look for ourselves we just get caught up in the status quo. So that is why that painting is all grey.

So what else are you painting? In the Gallery show, there’s the tree painting and two paintings of women in bathing suits. What are you working on now?

Well, the rocks. Right now, I’m doing them in a little bit of a representational style, but I might get a little crazy like I did with the trees, using my patterns to depict the rocks characteristics. I’m also doing more in the series of the one piece bathing suit because the shape of that bathing suit is such a nice color field for my patterns. I love roundness - the roundness of the bathing suit women and the roundness of the rocks.

Crab Suit, 24" X 36"

Crab Suit, 24" X 36"

If you haven’t visited Tryst gallery, I highly recommend you pop by and enjoy DeeDee’s work along with 30 other local artists. The show runs through the end of September and there is a First Friday reception on September 1 from 6PM - 9PM.