Featured Artist: Hannah Mutz

Fine artist and Paly junior Hannah Mutz talks to C Magazine about her art, her inspirations and what she’s doing next.


C Magazine: When and how did your career as an artist begin?

Hannah Mutz: I was kind of always doing art as a kid. My parents cultivated that by providing me with art supplies and because I had the art supplies I just kept doing art. I think I started taking formal painting classes in 5th grade but I’d been painting before that. It was just in a more professional environment.

CM: When did you start thinking you wanted to do art as more than just a casual hobby?

HM: I think I’ve always known that I wanted to do something related to art in the future. The thing I’ve [always] enjoyed the most is doing art. As long as people were presenting me with the question of ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’, once I moved past movie star or singer I was like, ‘yeah, this [art] seems like a good option.’

CM: How do you view yourself as an artist? How would you describe your art?

HM: I am still very much learning the base techniques to develop my art. I think you’re always learning if you paint.

I think I like to experiment with different principles of art individually but keep my paintings pretty realistic, just because that’s the style of art I gravitate to, so that kind of projects itself onto my art. I’ll do a realistic portrait with unrealistic colors. Or, I’ll do a figure with a natural skin tone that would look like it’d be realistic but with slightly distorted form to create the kind of feeling I want to get from it. Something’s just a little bit off in every one. Sometimes it will just be me striving for photorealism but a lot of times I like to create interest by changing one aspect at a time.

Hannah Mutz, “Woman with hat”, 2016

CM: What drives you to create your art?

HM: It just makes me happy to do art. It takes me to a pleasant place in my mind.

CM: You recently finished a piece you’d been working on for a long time. Can you describe your process in creating a new piece?

HM: My process is pretty uniform from painting to painting. I just start with my biggest brush and do a wash with the paint, creating an undertone. White is not the undertone to skin so I feel like with color [behind] it, it’s kind of like ‘oh look it’s kind of fleshy looking’. I go through my brushes biggest to smallest, each time working on finer details until the entire thing comes together. So [I] kind of work on the entire piece at once, going in a scope.

CM: How long does the process usually take?

HM: I have a lot of pieces that have taken over a year to paint. Keep in mind that I’m not super good about going to the studio and painting. I’m kind of a procrastinator, or just lazy, so I’ll go once or twice a week sometimes. But then I have pieces that I did in one studio session which is [typically] a few hours. I just kind of stop when I feel it’s done and I’m satisfied with how it looks.

CM: Has your art been shown in any galleries or exhibits?

HM: I did a summer [art] intensive which was two weeks staying at UCLA. You create a group of works [in the program] and then you choose a few and everyone in that program does a gallery show, so that was the most formal [exhibit]. Yeah, that and the Palo Alto Art Center ones [shows] that are through the school district. And I believe possibly another one? But I could just be going crazy. For a couple contests I’ve entered in, they show them on the website. One [“Girl Underwater”] got a Scholastic National Silver Medal.

Hannah Mutz, “Girl Underwater”, 2015

CM: Where do you find inspiration?

HM: I’ll look in books about well-known or older artists a lot of the time. I’ll look through those and be like ‘landscapes are pulling me in right now[so] I’ll do a landscape’ or ‘I really like this style of figure, I’ll try it out.’ Or I’ll see photos online and think, ‘this is really cool and I wanna paint this cause this subject really interests my mind.’

CM: Does your life inspire your art?

HM: I don’t know if I can create an active link between what I’m doing day to day and the art I’m interested in. I think I go through phases, like I lately am really into portraits/people. I don’t know if that’s much of a phase; I think that’s generally what I like to paint.

CM: What would you say your goal is when painting?

HM: I get this emotional attachment where I can feel like ‘ok, this is done, I can let go. I’m ok with how it is now.’ I think it’s just to create something that I personally am satisfied with the outcome of.

CM: So you would say you create more for yourself than for an audience?

HM: Yeah. It’s definitely just personal where you feel like creating. I definitely enjoy when people see my art cause I worked really hard and it’s being recognized. But also I don’t really have an audience.

CM: Do you think your art reflects your personality?

HM: I think it’s more like my interests or things that I just find cool visually. I really like painting figures and portraits because I think people’s faces are super beautiful and cool. I don’t know if that’s much personality, it’s just interest. Sometimes I like painting stuff that’s eery or maybe a little creepy just because I like creepy stuff. I really like horror movies and maybe that’s an interest that plays out in my art.

CM: Where do you see your art going in the future? Do you plan to pursue art as a career?

HM: I definitely want to do a college program centered around art, whether that be an art major at a liberal arts school, or [attending] an art college. I haven’t really decided yet. I think I’ll always enjoy painting and doing fine art. I definitely want to have a career centered around art, whether that be cartooning or some kind of design. So an art centric future with painting on the side. Or painting as my future. Who knows.