One would never guess from this week’s cover that the artist, Enid Hatton, had been both a medical illustrator and a recorder for the Air Force’s drone program. If truth be told, Hatton can’t be categorized with regards to subject matter. Quite the contrary. Nor can her style be pigeonholed. Take, for example, her portraits and still lifes that are detailed and realistic, perhaps recalling her analytic medical drawings. Yet her landscapes and figurative works seem somewhat fantasy-like, her female figures looking like characters from a play
Your cover, “Two Roosters and a Hen,” isn’t like anything you usually paint. How did this come about?
It was for a fundraiser for New Pond Farm, where they have all kinds of animals. I must have taken 500 photographs of chickens.
You also have donated work to the Air Force, recording entirely different kinds of subjects.
Yes. I was commissioned to document Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the surrounding area. One of those works hangs in the Pentagon. I was also asked to go out West as part of the Air Force Art Program and document the drones.
Was what you were doing classified?
Usually what you’re doing is classified. It’s such a privilege to be part of the program. So, they honor me, I honor them.
And to think, you started out illustrating something totally different.
I went to Johns Hopkins, where I studied applied medical art. I remember it was a bit “scuzzy” there in the 1970s. Baltimore was just beginning to build the Inner Harbor. But I learned a lot at Johns Hopkins, how to be analytical as well as artistic.
What exactly did you illustrate?
I drew medical, surgical devices and posters you see in a doctor’s office of the heart, for example. Also, 20 years ago, I did the first manual on laparoscopic surgery. I heard that a doctor in Africa tore a page out of my manual to do his first such operation.
Why did you want to do medical illustration?
I wanted to help. I didn’t want to be a doctor. But I also did want to be a doctor. However, I don’t like blood.
What exactly did it take to do your job?
First, it was very competitive to get into the Johns Hopkins program. You are also taking classes with doctors so you have to know what they know. Some doctors can’t explain their way out of a paper bag, so it was my job to clarify what they meant through illustrations. In the beginning of the profession, a lot of doctors’ wives drew the pictures. When I started, I had to correct these poor illustrations.
In the subsequent years, you have gone on to create portraits and landscapes. How are your portraits similar to your medical illustrations?
I initially started medical drawings because I was attracted to the human form. Portraits are analytical, but anyone can do a likeness. I like to capture the spirit of the person, actually both the likeness and the spirit.
You are always making discoveries yourself as you go from subject to subject.
It gives me delight to jump from one thing to the next. I have a talent for art, and I want to express myself to the world. I don’t put myself away in a closet and paint just what I see.
So, do you need to travel to get inspirations?
I don’t have to travel. Inspiration is all
Hatton will be part of a group show at Greenport’s South Street Gallery (18 South Street) starting Nov. 30. Call 631-477-0021 for information. hattonfineart.com