An Afternoon in Hyde Park with local artist Jules Hancock.
– by Eliana Bollati
It’s a perfect spring afternoon in Hyde Park. The warm sun permeates everything. Jules is sitting under a tree playing with a pencil, sharpening it with a stanley blade. He rises from the soft grass as I arrive.
“This is one of my favourite places.” He tells me, “So much green.”
We take a walk around the lake while he excitedly explains his new obsession to me,
“Pigments. I’m obsessed with pigments.” He says, “Like, cadmium red. If you get an oil colour, a water colour, a gouache. It’s all the same pigment! Only the binder is different.”
Gouache is a particularly interesting medium. Jules describes it as an opaque watercolour paint which can be layered like oil and acrylic paints, but also bleed and infuse with the paper canvas, and dries to a matte finish like watercolour paints.
The new found interest in pigments makes sense. Since graduating from University last year he has started to move away from his comfort zone, working with inks and pencils, and begun experimenting with paint.
“I’m enjoying the divergence between ink and painting.” He says, “I’ve been starting to work with watercolours and gouache. There is a similarity to working with ink. There is this sense of commitment, you can’t make a lot of changes once you’ve put the colour down on the canvas.”
Does he find it difficult stepping outside of what he’s used to and working with new mediums?
“There has been a transition for sure. Figuring out and pushing my limits. Working with new mediums helps me expand on what I’ve already learned.” He explains “I felt like I reached a limit with black and white. Working with colour and paint brush has been an opportunity to grow more…”
He starts speaking to me about the importance of investing in good brushes. “The way I work, I need the good quality brushes to maintain a high level of detail.”
Detail was definitely a part of his earlier work with ink. During University, Jules self-published two art books The Seed and 1 Corinthians 13. Both were available for purchase during a limited edition run in 2015.
“I feel like I didn’t achieve what I set out to do with them.” Jules tells me, “But I was experimenting. Uni is a good time to do that sort of experimental work. And now, I also feel I have more time to work on concepts. I don’t need to rush. Good things take time.”
I ask Jules if he ever finds art a useful tool for dealing with anxiety or depression and he grows solemn for a moment. “In uni, I used my art to work through dark feelings and it was cathartic. It is definitely something helpful that people can use to get their feelings down on paper.” He says, “But once I came to terms with those feelings, I still wanted to create, I still wanted to tell stories. I think that is definitely what a person should be moving towards. Finding ways to grow and keep creating. Catharsis should never become the be all and end of all of your creative process.”
As easy and exciting as Jules makes it seem, a career as an artist is no walk in the park. “I have an amazingly supportive partner who is always there for me. I think having people to support you is one of the most important things as an artist.”
And he would know, having seen the dedication and commitment that it takes first hand. “My Father was an artist.” Jules tells me with a bit of a grin before adding that he is expecting a son of his own soon. “I’m definitely excited to show him some stuff.”
Jules tells me his current project is a sci-fi graphic novel. “It’s about a character who lives in a glass house in the sand dunes. He’s just this little guy who goes out and collects minerals… but, I keep getting more ideas…” he laughs. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”
How much of a perfectionist?
“It could take five years… maybe ten… I know that in ten years’ time, I want to be doing this as my career.”
Right now though, Jules hones his skills working at Jackson’s art supplies in Subiaco, hosting demos for other local and budding artists in everything from Gouache to copic markers.
“It’s amazingly useful,” he says of working at Jackson’s. “It teaches you so much about how colours are made and mixed, about the quality of materials. I’ve learned so much from working there.”
“Art is so important to me. It’s like my… what’s that French expression? Raison d’etre. My reason for existence. That’s why I want to take my time.”
You can follow Jules and his artwork on his Instagram @JulesHancockArt
Photo credits: Eliana Bollati, Jules Hancock