Painter Aimée Hoover explores her animal instincts
The fauna artist fills her canvases with images that inspire people about our natural world.
- Written bySuzanna Cullen Hamilton
- Photographed byMonica Orozco
South Bay animal artist Aimée Rolin Hoover paints at the speed that the images and thoughts roll through her mind. “I’m a fast painter so if I wake up with an image in my mind, I go paint it so that there’s less in my head while there’s a freshness to the painting,” she says.
For three years Aimée has taken the month of September to paint her “September 30/30” series. It’s a blistering 30 days during which she churns out one painting each day. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve done,” she says. The paintings are posted each day at noon on Aimée’s site, and the prices are reduced 50% during the month of September.
While animals are always the subjects of her paintings, they range from mammals to birds to fish. A hummingbird hovers against a bright green field, while a fluffy white sheep seems to smile in response to the viewer. A pensive gorilla evaluates his view, while a Podenco Canario is alert and on watch. A Siamese fighting fish consumes the canvas in an elegant sway that reveals the power of his fanning fins.
Aimée began her career as a graphic designer, while painting was a passion she pursued on the side. However, in 1999 Aimée made the leap to full-time artist when she began her business of painting pets. For 13 years Aimée’s painting subjects were people’s beloved animals.
“However, part of being an artist is to keep growing and challenging yourself. So in 2012 I decided to move away from painting pet portraits and to start painting all types of animals,” Aimée says.
Aimée relies on various sources for inspiration. “Sometimes I reach out to photographers for images, but other times I scroll through hundreds of images on the internet looking for the ones that are most inspiring,” she says.
“I want to be true to myself as an artist, and that means continuing to push myself in new directions with new subjects.”
Aimée works in various mediums that include paintings and charcoal drawings. Sometimes colors pop in her paintings, while other times the colors are more subdued. Sometimes her images are sharp, while other times the edges are blurred and the images are more emotive. Her charcoal drawings reveal depth and an appreciation and understanding of light and shadow and movement.
The Bovine Farm Animal series and her Equine series are both beautifully executed. Charming hogs and majestic Highland cattle are part of the powerful Bovine Farm series. The Equine series evolved when Aimée began to paint horses without showing their faces.
“I became obsessed with the fly mask and how to create a painting where the viewer connects with the animal but not through the eyes,” says Aimée.
Fly masks are made of mesh, so while they appear to completely block the horse’s ability to see, the reality is that the horse can see while also being protected from flies and mosquitos. “What I found is that horses are very emotive, and they communicate not only through their eyes but through a slight turn of the head or a twitch of the ears,” says Aimée.
That subtle communication is very similar to humans who also use body language to communicate, so Aimée’s Equine series is not only about horses—it’s about the ability to relate and communicate on a subtle, nonverbal, nonvisual level.
Aimée’s paintings range in size from small 12” x 12” pieces to large, commanding paintings that can be up to 60” x 60.” A powerful rhinoceros takes his stance on a 5-foot-square canvas, while a 4-foot-long shark swims across another extended canvas. Whether in paint or charcoal … whether on a small paper or a large canvas, Aimée’s work conveys motion and emotion.
Her paintings are represented both in galleries and online through her own website. However, Aimée is loyal to her clients because she is adamant that prices be the same regardless of whether a painting is purchased through a gallery or directly from her website.
She also enjoys the interaction with her customers. “When people invest in my work, those collectors become close friends,” she says.
Aimée continues to expand her horizons both in terms of her art and her business. As she continues to explore animals in different ways and mediums, she has also expanded her business reach to Australia where a gallery represents her pieces. She will occasionally take on a pet portrait as a special commission, but her goal is to continue exploring the animal kingdom at-large.
“I want to be true to myself as an artist, and that means continuing to push myself in new directions with new subjects,” says Aimée.
As we continue to witness the impact of humans on the natural world, Aimée’s work will become increasingly relevant as we document both our own pets and the animals around the world with whom we share this planet.
See more of Aimee’s work at aimeehoover.com.