• Chad

Interview with Hailey Morgan of Art by Hailey Morgan

Here's the next Midtown interview with Hailey from Art by Hailey Morgan. The moose sticker from the box was courtesy of her. We talked a bit about her different art styles, inspiration, and more. Let's go!

Start us off by introducing yourself and telling us a bit about Art by Hailey Morgan?

HAILEY MORGAN: Yeah. So, I'm Hailey Morgan. I do Art by Hailey Morgan. I primarily work in watercolor and ink. I also do pyrography, which is wood burning and watercolor with gel pen detail and a varnish on top of that. But I mostly stick with those two mediums as my mediums of choice. Yeah. Which one came first? Was it the watercolor? HAILEY: Watercolor and ink. I've always been working on artwork. Since I was a little kid, always just painting, drawing, doodling. I look back at some of the things that I was working on, and I just remember all my notes just being completely filled with doodles. My mom gave me this little watercolor palette that was flat. It was my first trip up to Alaska about 10 years ago or so. And my mom was like, "Okay. Take this Micron pen, take this watercolor, you're going to be so inspired." I was like, "Okay, sure, whatever. I'm sure I'll be inspired by Alaska." I think that I found the tools that I really liked using and then it started the style that I've continued to do. But it's grown, and evolved, and changed, but I really did start with Micron pens, this watercolor pen. You fill it with water, and then the palette is just little scraps of paper that have pigment on it. Very cool. HAILEY: It's a really cool thing, so easy to travel with. And then I just started bringing it everywhere with me. So, I would just continue to paint and draw. I lived in Bellingham before I moved up to Alaska. What was it that ultimately brought you up? HAILEY: So my husband grew up in Alaska, and he was the reason why I came up here in the first place, for that first little trip. And then after that, we both decided that we wanted to become teachers. And I knew that he would never get the idea of Alaska out of his brain. So, I was like, "Let's try it. Let's move up there." There's a really good program that I think we're both excited about because he also wanted to pursue teaching. So, we came up here about four years ago and started our masters and got our certificates in teaching. And I told him I'll give Alaska two winters before I decided this is where I want to live because you never know. Winters can be hard. Some people can't handle the winters here. Oh absolutely. HAILEY: Yeah. But I love it here. We bought a house. We're settled. And this is where I want to stay.

That's awesome. It's one of those things where I've talked to some friends that have come up. And initially, they're like, "Oh, yeah, summer. Summers are great." And I'm like, give it to wintertime, go through a couple winters because summers are great, but you have to get the full spectrum to decide, like you said, if it's somewhere you really want to be. HAILEY: Exactly. And the first two winters that I was up here, it was icy, there was an awful lot of snow, but I still got into the wintertime activities to get outside and get moving. You find the things that you love and that's why I stayed here. Oh absolutely. I agree. And you were talking about your mom earlier. Was she also an artist? HAILEY: My mom is a quilter. She does art quilting. So, yes, she is. But she does a very different medium. She was always playing with other things, and always encouraging, putting art supplies in my hands when I was a kid. So, there was always things to play with. Going back to visit my parents, it's like, "All right, mom. What new supplies did you get? Let's tinker around with things." New toys. HAILEY: Exactly. She definitely encouraged me to continue. Keep making artwork wherever I go. Very cool. As far as the pyrography and I hope I'm saying that right.


HAILEY: Yeah. That came second, you said. What was it that got you into that? HAILEY: I wanted to start doing some big pieces of artwork. How big are we talking? HAILEY: I think the biggest that I've done is 4 ft. by 4 ft. And usually, with watercolor and ink, I'm working like 8x10 or 11x14. So, on a smaller scale. And just messing around with framing and figuring all that out. The watercolor and ink, it's very time consuming, and so is pyrography, but it was a new way to do something big because I didn't want to do the same thing on a big scale. I wanted to do something on a big scale that was different. I had played around with painting on wood before, but watercolor on wood tends to just spread, and splotch, and it's hard to contain it. When you do the pyrography, it almost makes like a dam to hold the watercolor in. So when you put a drop of pigment on the wood, it will spread out, but then it will stop at the line you made for the pyrography.

I see. HAILEY: And I really like the texture and the component of what it adds to the pieces. I like to work with the piece of wood that I have. So, if there are greens that are happening that resemble a shape, I'll just expand on that idea and turn it into whatever piece of artwork. Sometimes I have an idea before I get started, and, sometimes, I just let the art make itself. That's awesome. Yeah. And so, basically, what you're saying is that with the lines, once you have the lines there, it allows you to keep the detail intact, I guess, rather than, like you said, it bleeding into the wood. HAILEY: Right. Because watercolor, it's hard to control. It's like controlled chaos. You can control it to a certain point and then it's going to do what it wants to do. And that's one reason why I really like working with watercolor is I figured out how I can put it where I want it to go while still letting it have that quality that watercolor has, that unpredictability. And with pyrography, you still have that, but then, I don't know, you're still reigning in that controlled chaos to turn it into a piece that you want it to turn into. And then I like going over it with the gel pen to add extra detail to make it that super detailed piece of artwork that I like because I like taking the time to just work on something. It's very soothing. Which is why I like to add all the detail to my artwork. As far as your process and your style, how did you develop that over time?

HAILEY: Well, it's interesting. Because my style, even things from eight years ago, it's still my style of artwork. So even though it's developed and changed, it's just more of what it was. Does that make sense? Yeah. So, it's the same core style? HAILEY: It's the same core style. I think that's something that I get consistent feedback on is that I have a very defined style. And it's not just stuff from the last three years, it's stuff from probably the last eight years or even nine years. It has some sort of consistency. And I think that that is having that detail, having that whimsical aspect to it. And bright colors. I love bright colors. Yeah, the colors definitely make your pieces pop. HAILEY: Yeah. I think that things have changed just in that I've refined it. I can tell an older piece from like, "Oh, that line work. Man, I can neaten that up," kind of thing. Otherwise, I think, that it's more just organically grown. And I think it's becoming familiar with knowing and having a better idea of what I like because when you sit down and when you first start, you don't have an idea. I'm a teacher and when I work with kids with artwork, I try to remind them to disconnect yourself from whatever your brain has. Whatever you're thinking about, don't necessarily expect that to come out of your hands because it's not always going to look like exactly what you picture in your head. Sure. That makes sense. I feel like, especially if you're a perfectionist, it's easy to get stuck and feel like something's not the way, like you said, you've imagined it. So you have to let go a little bit and just let it be what's going to be. HAILEY: Exactly, yeah. Get rid of that expectation. Just let yourself make something. Yeah, definitely. I was reading a little bit on your website and you said that you like to explore. As far as inspiration, is that where a lot of your inspiration comes from? HAILEY: I think my inspiration comes from a whole lot of different places. I like to paint or draw things from the outside natural world. That's where most of my subject matter is. It's either fantastical things or something from the natural world. A lot of creatures.

HAILEY: A lot of creatures. Yes, I love creatures. My inspiration sometimes comes from being outside. Sometimes from dreams. Sometimes just from sitting down and starting to make something. A lot of times, I don't have an idea of what I'm going to make before I start making it. So I'll just start drawing, and it turns into whatever it's going to turn into. But if I do have something in my brain, I would definitely say it's from being outside and exploring. I love hiking, biking, kayaking, things that let you get into your own head while you're doing it and just imagine. Be in touch while you're out there. HAILEY: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, totally. Say you start making something and it doesn't quite turn out the way that you had expected it to, is it still something that you still end up wanting to share?

HAILEY: I share almost everything that I make, unless it's just complete doodles. Even if there is a point in the process where I'm like, "Oh, I really don't like how that's looking. I really don't like how this is turning out," I trust the process to know that I'll add those things, I'll add the detail, add the shading. Even if the middle of the process is my least favorite time to share a piece of artwork. Because I know the potential of where it's going to go and I can see where it's going to go, and I need to make it go there, but if you just look at it without that context, it's an unfinished piece, and it's not something that I'm ready to share. “Nobody look. I'm not done.”

HAILEY: Yeah, yeah. Of course there are duds. Of course there are things that I don't want to share with people. But for the most part, I want to share everything. And there's something special too even in those things where you're like, "Oh, I think this didn't turn out exactly as I intended it to." HAILEY: It's crazy because when you do an art show, the things that I'm like, "Yeah, I really like how this piece turned out," it's like some people don't react to it at all. And some pieces where I'm like, "It's okay. I mean, it's fine," some people are like, "I love this thing." And you never know what's going to speak to one person or what's going to call them to be like, "I love this piece of artwork." It's just so subjective. HAILEY: Yeah. There are some things that I can predict that people will really respond well to, and other things are like, "Wow, cool. Thanks. Thank you." *laughs* It's a pleasant surprise. HAILEY: Yeah. That's awesome! As far as the Bear Box, what was it that made you want to be a part of it? HAILEY: I met LeeAnna out at Forest Fair. I had a booth out there. And she introduced herself, and approached me, and asked if that was something I'd be interested in. And I said, "Yeah, that sounds really cool." I like that idea of sharing more pieces with people, sharing stickers with people because those are great.

An idea for your sticker!

Yeah. You can put them on your water bottle or your laptop. HAILEY: Yeah. It can go on the back of your car. The stickers themselves are vinyl waterproof stickers. So they're high quality. They're really durable. They can go through dishwashers, that kind of thing. And LeeAnna had said that that was a specific thing that she thought that Bear Box subscribers would really like. So I was like, "That sounds great." Sometimes, it's hard to know what to do with a piece of artwork, especially if it's precious real estate on your walls. A sticker, you can just "pop," put it somewhere. And it's nice to be able to just surround yourself with things that you're like, "I really like this. This makes me happy." Being able to share that is really cool. That's very cool. We're super happy to have you as part of it, that you said yes and you're excited. A great part about all of this has been meeting people, and hearing that they're excited about the idea, and wanting to be a part of it. Our local communities are already super connected in a lot of ways, but helping to bolster that in any way we can has been great. And as awesome as the products are, doing this interview, being able to show off the people behind the scenes has been a lot of fun. HAILEY: Absolutely. Yeah, the art community in Alaska is so supportive. And not just the art community but the supporters of the art community. It's absolutely amazing how excited people are about local artists, and then how excited local artists are to be sharing their artwork and networking with each other and helping each other out. The online social media world, it's so supportive, and it's really cool. Alaska has this amazing support for people doing their own thing and making their own art and making stuff from scratch. It's really cool to see such a supportive community. Definitely. So do you have any final thoughts that you'd like to add? Any wisdom you'd like to share? Any events that you're going to be at? HAILEY: I have a lot of little bazaars and art stuff. Makers Market is the 15th and 16th of December at the Church of Love from 11-4pm, which will be a really amazing event. There's a lot of really talented people going there.

Is that Anchorage? HAILEY: Yeah. It's on Spenard. The Church of Love. If you've never been to it, you should definitely go. It's definitely worth checking out. Very cool. HAILEY: December is going to be a really busy month. I can imagine. HAILEY: Yeah. As far as final thoughts, it's really humbling to have people be so excited about something that I'm making. It makes me really happy. And every time somebody gives that compliment or says, "I really like your work," it does mean a lot. You'd be making it either way, but getting all the positive feedback is great. HAILEY: Yeah, it's really cool. Every time somebody buys a piece of artwork, it's like, "Oh, thanks. Thank you." Not just for the purchase but it's like, "Thank you. That's really cool.". Yeah, just the appreciation of it. HAILEY: Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you for taking the time, Hailey. We're looking forward to people getting their boxes and getting to see your stickers! HAILEY: Thank you so much. Glad this worked out!

Thank you to Hailey for being a part of our Midtown Bear Box and sharing her art with us. Her art is available for purchase at the Dos Manos Art Gallery in Anchorage and on her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. Her Q&A will be this upcoming Monday, so if you have any questions for her, stay tuned for that.