This month, we meet artist and Air Force Spouse Angela Hunter. Get ready to be inspired by Angela’s love of learning new things. As mil spouses, we are frequently thrust into new experiences and new locations. Why not use that change to try new kinds of art techniques or discover classes or workshops our new towns/cities offer?
MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.
Angela: I was born and raised in the Atlanta, Georgia area. My husband, Jasen, and I met in Valdosta, Georgia in 2003 when he was in pilot training at Moody, AFB and I was studying Interior Design at Valdosta State University. We were married in April of 2005 and spent a few months in Columbus, MS finishing pilot training before heading to his first assignment at Travis AFB in California to fly KC-10s. We had our first baby there, Savannah, in 2009. Shortly after she was born, we headed to Randolph AFB in San Antonio, Texas for 6 months. In 2010, my husband started teaching pilot training at Columbus AFB back in Mississippi. In 2012, we moved to Whiteman AFB in Missouri for his assignment flying the B2 bomber and welcomed another baby girl, Charlotte, just a month after moving. Today, we are still at Whiteman AFB in Missouri with our girls, (10 and 7). I am currently a student studying graphic design at the University of Central Missouri.
MilspoFAN: How did you become an artist?
Angela: I think my journey as an artist has been life-long. I am definitely a restless artist and when I get tired of creating in a particular way, I like to move on and learn something different so the art I make and the ways I am creative are always changing. I have been able to take the experience and the lessons I’ve learned at different stages of my life and apply them to whatever comes next.
My love of creating started when I was very young. My dad still tells stories about calling the Crayola company to ask how to get crayon off the walls I had scribbled on. My mom used to paint as a hobby, and I would get into her supplies just to experiment and play with them. When other kids were playing sports or listening to boy bands, I was perfecting my hand lettering with a calligraphy kit I dug out of our attic. When I was in college at Valdosta State University, I decided to major in interior design. I figured this was a career where I could be creative and maybe make some money at the same time. I loved my art classes in college and learned so much about the creative process, how to use the right supplies and design in general.
I also fell in love with watercolor painting in college. I graduated in 2004, and Jasen and I eventually ended up in Northern California where I worked as an interior designer with Ethan Allen. Even though I was not making art at that job, I was definitely using my design skills. I learned a great deal about color, client relationships, and what sells. I also started making art in my spare time for fun. I did watercolor paintings for friends of everything from pets to airplanes. In 2009, we had our first baby, my husband deployed and we moved from California to Texas all within six months. I was overwhelmed with life and fell out of practice with making art. Eventually, I started experimenting with acrylics and oils on canvas. I started getting requests and getting paid for creating custom work. Even though I loved being a stay at home mom, I definitely had a strong desire to create and use my brain a little.
After our second daughter was born, I was still creating art but also itching to get out of the house more. I sort of fell into a job teaching social painting classes at a local studio here in Missouri. I had never done anything like it before, but I loved meeting new people and coming up with different projects. It was so rewarding to encourage people through painting and art. I was teaching classes every week so I had to learn to be fast and efficient with my paintings and to simplify my designs. This job really helped build my confidence as an artist and led me to experiment more than I would have otherwise. I also discovered my passion for hand-lettered wood signs around this time.
Once both of my kids were in elementary school full time, I got restless again so I started pondering going back to school. I decided to explore graphic design and enrolled at the University of Central Missouri. I was able to transfer many of my classes from my first degree so I could jump right into the graphic design classes. I am currently in my fourth semester and I can’t believe how much I’m learning! I’m not sure exactly where I will end up, but being a student again has opened my eyes to so many possibilities. I love digital hand lettering, pattern and surface design, logo design and even animation!
MilspoFAN: Describe for us your creative work and the aesthetic of your art?
Angela: It is difficult for me to sum up my artwork in a few words since I work with so many different types of materials. In any media, I love color and the magic that happens when colors blend together. When I paint, I use a lot of fluidity and motion in my work. When I design digitally, I like to keep my work very clean. I always want to bring beauty, fun and whimsy to anything I’m working on.
MilspoFAN: Where do you draw your inspiration?
Angela: I am a total history nerd so I usually watch historical documentaries while I work on projects. There is so much beauty in vintage advertising, historical buildings, hand painted signs, art and photography. I will probably collect those types of books forever. I also love going to art museums. I always feel inspired after seeing art up close.
MilspoFAN: How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work as a writer- creatively, logistically, or otherwise?
Angela: As an Air Force wife, I try to live by the “bloom where you’re planted” philosophy, whether that’s that stage of life or the physical location I’m planted in. I do what I can, where I can but I know I need to be creating in some way no matter what. The Air Force has moved us around the country but I see that as a positive. I have met people, seen places and had experiences I never would have otherwise. All of that influences me as a person and therefore my work.
MilspoFAN: What is the most practical piece of advice that you would give to other artists?
Angela: The best advice I have for other artists is to be yourself but build on that. No one has everything figured out so never stop learning new media and techniques. But at the same time, make what you want to make because it shows in your work when you love what you’re doing. And also take pictures of everything you make, good or bad! Its good to look back at your work and see how far you’ve come or what you may need to return to.
MilspoFAN: What does a day in your life look like?
Angela: My typical day starts with getting kids ready for and off to school. Making lunches, signing papers, finding shoes, braiding hair, etc. Then I head to the university for class and work on school projects, design work for clients, or paintings for the classes I teach. I try to fit a workout or long walk in there somewhere, (usually when I start falling asleep at my computer!) I often read for school or study in the carpool line at my kids’ school. We try to eat dinner as a family as much as possible, but that can be tricky with my husband’s schedule. When my girls have activities like dance or music lessons, I bring my laptop or textbooks and work in the waiting room. I try to get as much of my work done as possible while everyone is busy at school, work or activities so we can have more time together as a family. It means a lot of multitasking for me and toting my computer or flashcards along wherever I go, but it’s worth it! I am so lucky to have a super supportive husband who believes in me and kids who cheer me on. They even help me brainstorm ideas or serve as models for my projects!