In the studio with Jodi Hugo

Favourite material to work with?
My favourite material is acrylic paint combined with charcoal. I love the fact that I can work quickly and achieve depth with such minimal materials.

What themes do you pursue?
I find that my themes are fragility, simplicity, form, emotion and the naturalistic. In every work I tend to incorporate these themes.

How many years an artist?

I have two answers to this question.
1. I have always been one. I was obsessed with drawing from a very young age and because of this I started art classes at the age of two. So: 33 years.
2. Even though I studied art and planned to pursue this as my career I found it a difficult road until my daughter was born. This woke me up and in a way I started really being an artist in 2011. So: 4 years.

What should people know about your art that they can’t tell from looking at it?
There are stories behind every work. Even when working on a series I find myself creating a story about the scene.

Which living or dead artist would you most like to meet?
I would have love to have met Georgia O'Keefe. She has become an important inspiration to me.

Tell us about your studio. Location, clean, cluttered, big, small, etc?
We moved recently and my new studio space is a lovely, sunny room overlooking a wonderful, lush garden in an old house in Somerset West. In the past I have always had very cluttered work spaces. But I have become very inspired by minimalism and have realized that the clutter does not serve me. I work better in spaces that give a calm mind and are cleaner but still contain some interesting objects. I need triggers but I don't need mess.

Art school or self-taught?
I attended art school from the age of two. It always provided me with great purpose and from a young age I knew that I wanted to pursue an artist's life. I studied art at university. Then my real education started. I went on to, and am still, discovering what being an artist actually means. And on this road I feel I am reteaching myself. Finding my own path. Always learning.
Do you prefer to work with music or in silence?
It depends. I like working with music. I usually start work listening to an album or podcast or audiobook. This silences the critical voice in my head and lets creativity come out to play. Then I will often get so focused on what I am making that the album will have ended without me even noticing. I can work like this, in silence, for hours.
Favourite brush?
My favourite brush is my 'goldilocks' brush not too big or too small - just right. But I also love my giant brush and my teeny tiny brush.

Where can we find you out side of the studio?

I teach Nia dance classes and, mostly, I can be found dancing. I love walking with my love, my daughter and my dogs. Being in nature or experiencing beauty and life.
If you couldn't be an artist, what would you do?

In my fantasy world I would be a scientist, a biologist or a contemporary dancer. But in reality: I would be a writer.

Interests other than art?
I am a curious person and seem to find almost anything fascinating. I like to research interesting topics from the sciences to the arts and Philosophy. Buddhism fascinates me, Secularism fascinates me. Stories fascinate me. I love writing and have published a few Afrikaans short stories. A great interest and love in my life is dancing and movement. I love to knit, sew, crochet and craft.

What do you collect?
I collect feathers, pebbles, rocks, shells, bones and tea. I am obsessed with tea.
I used to collect almost anything I found interesting or quirky. But these days I try to collect only organic things, things that I can leave behind if I move. Things that are part of the earth.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. And here I found incredibly valuable advice throughout the book. Some thoughts that really freed my mind were that you should make space for fear and that artists don't need a permission slip to be artists and that we are allowed to play and enjoy what we do. It seems obvious. But I found it incredibly liberating.
Are there messages within your work?

There are stories. My intention is always to show what or how I see and hopefully this evokes stories and emotion within the viewer.

What does your art process entail?
Usually it entails sitting at my work table or easel and starting something. Anything. But when inspiration comes and an idea is formulated or I find something interesting. Then the mulling starts and I build images or scenes in my head. Then I start taking pictures, doing sketches, finding models and collecting objects. This whole process of figuring out takes much longer than the actual painting or sculpting. Then I start working in a frenzy.

What are your inspirations?
Sometimes inspiration is found in simple things. In beauty, fragility, shapes. I find it in music and stories. I find a lot of inspiration in other art forms and disciplines. I am inspired by people and other artists who keep going, keep working, keep refining. My daughter inspires me. Things are so new to a child and they ask amazing questions. I have re-evaluated my whole life thanks to her. My husband, my love, inspires me because he is inquisitive and daring and always finding new, creative and exciting ways to approach life and his work.
What materials couldn’t you live without?
Charcoal. I like to limit my pallet and can work with very little. However, I always need something to scribble with - preferably some charcoal - and something to paint with. And if you have charcoal, water and fingers you can get very far.