Most artists believe it's flat-out impossible to explain the creative muse. Ask them why they are drawn to their medium of choice, or why they are inspired to create the art they create, and they're almost guaranteed to look at you with good reason as if you'd asked, "What does a cloud feel like?"
But in a recent interview, natural-landscape oil painter Jan Hodson actually attempted to sum up her craft and inspirations in mere words and succeeded very nicely.
"I am trying to get the feeling of what I see when I see it," Hodson said. "I don't know that I am trying to replicate or improve upon what Mother Nature created, but I do try to make it more interesting compositionally. And when you're trying to re-create a feeling, that gives you license to move things around a bit."
But above all, she added, "I can lose myself painting in a way that I cannot do in any other way. Time just disappears, and I get totally involved. It's just the experience of painting, more than anything else."
Hodson is among 36 of the Rim country's best known artists who will be displaying their work in this weekend's Payson Art League Fall 2002 Show and Sale where the roster will also include several Western artists, sculptors, wood carvers, nature photographers, and creators of high-quality designer pottery and fine jewelry.
Both the show and the league mean a lot to Hodson starting with the opportunity they provide for interaction with fellow artists.
"My husband, John, and I moved here three years ago from Star Valley, Wyo., where we were in a 50-mile-long valley that didn't even have one stoplight in it," she said. "So I was really isolated. We couldn't even see another house from our house. This is like the big city to me."
For some reason, it doesn't seem unusual at all that an oil painter from the Old West state of Wyoming does not use brushes to create her work, but knives.
"I don't use brushes at all," Hodson said. "Knives just feel good to me. When I paint with a brush, my colors get muddy, and I end up with paint all over everything. A professor I had in college started me on knives, and now they're just mine."
Hodson's love of the creation of art began when she was a child and became hooked on drawing. In high school, she was one of seven art students enrolled in a studio class and "all seven of us went on to graduate from one school or another, in one sort of art or another," said Hodson, who graduated from both the University of Illinois and the American Academy of Women Artists Workshops.
Oil painting appealed to Hodson, she said, because "I like the ability to go back into a painting, adjust it, and do painterly work, if you will." And landscapes were her most natural subject. "I get excited when I look at skies, the different kinds of trees, the wide variety of greens."
Invariably, that excitement is shared by those who view Hodson's work. She recently placed within the Top 200 out of 2,500 entries at the "Arts for the Parks" show in Jackson, Wyo.
And, after never having entered any national shows, she applied to seven this year and was juried into six of them.
Which brings Hodson to yet another reason why she does what she does, and why she is looking forward to displaying her work at this weekend's Payson Art League event.
"To have other people appreciate what you're doing is just fun. It's just exciting."
The juried, mixed media Payson Art League Fall 2002 Show and Sale will be launched with an artists' reception from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. Donations of $5.00 will be accepted at the door.
This year's edition of the show itself for which there is no admission charge will feature such well-known local and nationally-acclaimed artists as Rock Newcombe, Angela Cockle, Carol Kane, Conrad Okerwall, Alan and Carole Snyder, Pia Wyer, Ruth Overton, C.D. Bond, Patricia Allebrand, Don Harmon, Donn Morris and Payson Town Councilor Dick Wolfe.
Put them all together and you have a veritable mixed-media extravaganza but that's not all you have.
The event will also showcase a "Kidzart Corner" stocked with art supplies for budding young artists to enjoy as their parents browse; and more than 30 original works of art will be raffled off for $1 a pop at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Proceeds will help support art programs in the Rim country schools by buying art materials and sending artists into the schools to work directly with students.
Following the raffle, the People's Choice Award voted upon by attendees will be bestowed upon the show's most favored artist.
For those who appreciate the culinary arts, the Art Cafe will be open both Saturday and Sunday, serving up Nan Ridenour's locally famous homemade bratwurst and beverages.
Fall Show and Sale
The Payson Art League Fall 2002 Show and Sale will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2 and 3 in the Tonto-Apache Reservation Activity Center. To get there, follow Highway 87 to the south end of Payson, take the Mazatzal Casino exit, and follow the signs. Admission is free. There will be an artists' reception from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, featuring wine, light desserts, and the opportunity to get first pick of the artists' work. A $5 donation will be accepted at the door.