Artist Blog: Micah Hayns
Artist Micah Hayns created 40 original images for Unveiled: Women of the Old Testament and the choices they made written by his mother Clare. Here he writes about how he approached the challenge.
Hello, my name is Micah and I am an artist from Oxford. I have been painting full-time since I left school in 2016. I started off studying with various traditional drawing schools, in particular, a year in Italy studying the classical way of drawing at the Florence Academy of Art. Since then I have tried to build my own visual style and voice and I attempt to combine the accessibility of an illustrator with the craft and techniques of the Old Masters. I use a variety of mediums and take inspiration from impressionists and street art as well as classical painting and illustration. I hope to capture and share moments of life and beauty through the visual tools that I have.
In 2019 my mum (Clare Hayns) had the idea of writing the stories of the Old Testament women for a lent blog series and asked if I could illustrate them. My initial reaction was that I felt this project would be better suited for a female artist, as they might be able to relate and empathise better with stories about other women. However, once I started I realised that I had been wrong. The stories are just as important and interesting as the stories of the men in the Bible, it’s just you hear less about them, which I think is an injustice. I also think the fact I am a man means that people can’t categorise the book as a book about women, made by women and for other women. It is not that at all.
I use a variety of different mediums, techniques, and styles in my work. Some are more traditional such as oil on canvas and charcoal and white chalk on paper, which helps to capture emotion and depth. Others are more contemporary with more abstract backgrounds, with inspiration coming from street art. I tried to create a variety of different aesthetics and compositions, partly because it keeps me excited and inspired to paint different things, but also so that the book would be accessible and communicate to a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and stages of life. This accessibility is important to me. I was told once by a drawing teacher that drawing and painting were a language by which we communicate. I spend a long time on the craft side of my work so that I visually speak as clearly and articulately as possible.
Creating images of 40 women was a huge task that took me around a year. It wasn’t as straightforward as just making 40 in a row, because each one had to be just right and capture the right emotion. So many times I painted multiple versions of a woman before I felt like it was good enough. I always would get an intuitive sense of each woman by reading the passages from the bible, and mum’s writings on them. I tried to capture the emotion that I felt most represented their story. With a painting, there is only really room to capture one dominant feeling, maybe two if it’s multiple figures. Any more might over complicate the piece. It’s very different to film for example where you have hundreds of opportunities and scenes. In painting, there is just one. So for each of the women I had to discern what was most important to focus on. For example for Huldah, I chose to try and capture her authority and for Rachel her sadness.
Overall I feel really proud of how the book has come out and I feel confident that Mum and I have done our very best, which is ultimately all that we can do. My hope is that the book brings life and makes people excited about these stories and about God.
Unveiled is available here.