British -born award winning artist Mags Hobbs is a graduate of the Royal Leamington Spa College of Art, UK. After graduation she took time to raise two sons and to support her husband’s race- driving career. Simultaneously, she created a successful, custom-designed quilt company.
Ten years ago, Mags and her husband moved to Vero Beach where she began to paint seriously. Today her colorful paintings explore mixed media, texture, and line in a sophisticated free style which disguises her finely honed drawing skills. She uses every tool in the box to create a range of paintings - from realistic to abstract - which reflect her sunny outlook on the world.
Fun- light and Imagination!
My early roots in textile design taught me to look at all kinds of mark making, texture and line, positive and negative spaces, construct/destruct and collage.
I find inspiration in the creative energy of graffiti, soft clouds, sharp lines of buildings or even a postage stamp. Almost anything that attracts my attention can lead to a new painting. My inspiration is in almost anything and is everywhere.
My art ‘ism’ is Abstract Expressionism and I also like to get what I jokingly call ‘some fun-light' into the painting. That's an extra dollop of joy, energy and life that makes the work come alive. I am often told that my paintings are happy and I hope so because making ART should be fun.
I begin every painting with a $2 house painters bush, working loosely straight out of my head. I let the brush and paint do the work. The painting literally grows organically on the canvas. I am not seeking realism; I am seeking my own personal creativity.
Should a cow turn out to be lime green with orange pants then that’s just fine. It’s only a piece of canvas and a bit of paint - and if Jackson Pollock could ride a bicycle over his paintings, what could possible go wrong?
Question is -is my cow a mistake or a serendipitous creation?
Who can say?
Mags Hobbs has lived a life nearly as colorful as the vibrant canvases she paints these days. British-born, she was raised in the city of Royal Leamington Spa, a historic town near Oxford.
Mags’s sunny nature was undoubtedly influenced not only by her own genes but by the congeniality of her hometown: Leamington was recently voted the happiest place in England to live.
Its mineral baths had been popular for centuries with England’s high society and royalty, Queen Victoria visiting not only during her long reign but as a young princess. It was she who declared the city a “royal” spa, leading to an official name change.
As a child, Mags drew constantly. Her father was a writer who “was very clever” at drawing cartoons on letters to his friends. Hobbs thinks he could have developed that talent into a career in painting, but it was not to be. Nevertheless, he was sympathetic to his daughter’s ambitions, realizing that her love of drawing had become a passion as time went on.
“So they packed me off to art school and that was that,” she says. Growing up, Mags was fascinated by the clothing worn by the Victorians and by fabrics in general. She sewed expertly and made all her own clothes. When the opportunity presented itself at the Leamington Spa College of Art to study textile design, she didn’t hesitate.
“We didn’t study fashion design the way young people do today,” she recalls. “We were much more involved in an artisanal approach.” She studied lithography to master printing on fabrics and became thoroughly grounded in composition and basic art techniques.
But romance interrupted her path toward a future in textile design. She married a Warwickshire lad, David Hobbs, who was destined to become an international racing car champion and a racing commentator on several U.S. television networks. His career exploded and suddenly Mags was going with him to places had most women her age only dreamed of. Then came two sons, who took up all of the energy left over. Her own career was definitely on hold.
From time to time she continued to accompany David on his tours. In California, while shopping with the wife of one of his crew members, she came across something totally new to her: a macramé basket holder. She had never
seen one in the UK and she realized immediately she was staring at a business opportunity.
Back home, she quickly mastered the art of macramé and produced some samples. When the first call she made produced an order, she knew she was on to something. Soon a production team was turning out massive numbers of macramé hangers each week, barely able to keep up with demand. Eventually, the business morphed into an exclusive custom design operation focused on contemporary quilts.
When a pub conversation over a Guinness one chilly night turned to trekking in the Himalayas, Mags’s imagination was galvanized. One place David would never be invited to compete was India: the sport of motor racing didn’t exist there. So off Mags went to explore the Himalayas. The experience was so powerful that she returned not once but six more times, chronicling her adventures in a briskly selling memoir called Better to Journey.
Eventually, she and David would relocate to America, where he would open a car dealership in Milwaukee. Wisconsin’s arduous winters encouraged them to find Vero Beach, where Mags began to study with Deb Gooch. “It was pivotal for me,” Mags said. “She loosened up my painting and helped me make things come together.”
“My early roots in textile design taught me to look at all types of patterns and mark making,” she said, “line, texture, positive, negative, erasures, collage, construct, destruct, even graffiti. I use all my artistic license and all the tools in the box.
“People ask, ‘What is it you’re looking for in your paintings?’ and I say, ‘Well, with every mark I make I’m looking for that interaction, that spark, that color combination that moves me on to the next piece of the puzzle. I am also looking for me. I think I am still looking for my persona -- or is that what they call ‘style’? How about style with a smile?”
-- Warren Obluck