Mood Indigo

Bev Hogue is bringing a hip, new hue to the 21st-century art scene, and she’s doing it with one color on her palette. The Canadian artist has taken the color blue and created a series of images of women both glamorous and mysterious that have attracted a loyal following of fans and collectors and been featured in media outlets, including Juxtapoz Magazine.

Hogue has also mastered the art of promoting her eye-catching graphics on merchandise: clothing, jewelry, scooters, skateboards — even chocolates. A graduate of Toronto’s George Brown College, Hogue was first an in-demand graphic designer and magazine illustrator before expanding into the realm of fine arts.

Hogue currently resides in Fonthill, Ont., in a self-described “1960s pad in the heart of Canada’s wine country.” She agreed to answer a few questions via email.

Folio Weekly: Your website (bevhogue.com) mentions you found “abundant inspiration” in your childhood home of Fenwick, Ont. What was it about that place that you believe resonated into your later life as an artist?

Bev Hogue: We tend to romanticize past experiences, but Fenwick really was a magical kind of place, with one foot in the past and one in outer space. Lots of local characters and architectural relics like Floyd Ebert’s 1920s-style gas station or the Green Lantern soda shop. If Mark Twain wrote an episode of “Twilight Zone,” the setting would be Fenwick.

F.W.: What compelled you to work only in the color blue?

B.H.: I love the calming mood the color creates when I paint, and it produces a melancholy in the finished work that unites all of the work. “Blue” started with a decision early on to work from a flat, monotone palette, to match the ambiguity of the facial expressions in these portraits. Without relying on extra colors, I explored and found new ways to develop depth of personality, so I stuck with it.

F.W.: When you made the shift from working solely as a graphic designer into fine arts, did you feel any apprehension or fear that your work would somehow not be accepted?

B.H.: I actually found I was putting too much work into my commercial illustrations, and this was not always the most economical way to work. I recall an image I was creating for a cookie box. I wanted the expression in these cartoon characters to be just right, even though it was just for the grocery store shelf. I came to the realization that I was “out of place” at a design firm, so I began painting and illustrating for myself to see where it might go. I sensed something could come of it if I kept my focus. As for apprehension and fear of acceptance … this is getting to the core of what drives the creative process in a lot of people.

F.W.: What do you find so alluring about the decidedly glamorous women you create? It is seemingly a deeper attraction and celebration of something greater than mere surface appearances.

B.H.: I feel that glamour is the face of courage. There is nothing bolder than a woman who faces the world armed with a fashion-forward attitude. Confidence, intelligence, wit and vulnerability are expressed in these moments. I like to think that the women I paint are stars of movies that last several seconds.

F.W.: Your work has elements of humor, yet many of the expressions of the women seem inscrutable, while there is also a darker and more somber quality. Is that deliberate or am I possibly misreading this, due to this ever-present blue color scheme?

B.H.: Earlier on, I focused on older women in a series called “Blue in the Face.” These portraits were of imaginary aging actresses from the golden era of Hollywood. Though they had a weariness about them, they retained poise and dignity. I think the frame of mind from that period survives in my latest series. The mood might be somber at times, but it’s something well short of complete dread. “Better to live with a broken heart, not a broken spirit,” is a catch phrase I coined to describe the expression. They may find themselves in difficult situations, but they are not lost.

F.W.: You live and work in the foothills in Canada’s wine country and have also been involved in producing a selection of wines, so I simply must ask, red or white?

B.H.: That’s an easy question: BLUE!

Dan Brow

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