John Hutton grew up in Pound Ridge, New York, and currently lives with his family in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he has been a professor at Salem College since 1990. He himself was educated at Princeton, Harvard, and the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. Hutton’s artwork tells stories through both painting and illustration, whether the figures are trees of a landscape, historic figures, or talking mice. Hutton’s work does not aim to be photorealistic, but he frequently uses models and photographs to provide authentic foundations that his imagination can build upon.
Hutton’s process is marked by the fundamental understanding that all artwork, no matter the medium, uses its own form of vocabulary and language of line and form, light and color, to communicate with the viewer. Hutton’s style of painting with patches of color is similar to impressionism, noted for its ability to capture the movement and essence of a subject the way the eye sees it. Hutton uses this method from a place of fascination with how the mind of the viewer supplies the details and transforms the image.
When Hutton’s art accompanies a written story, his illustrations similarly engage the reader by connecting various elements of a narrative rather than simply depicting what is written on the page. Hutton refers to illustrations as “part of a coordinated effort to use all parts of a book to tell a story, interpret its words, enrich, and guide the reader’s experience.”(http://www.huttonillustrator.com/) As opposed to the loose brush strokes of his paintings, Hutton embraces the clarity of line-art for book illustrations. Sometimes Hutton will fill in the defined lines with watercolor to add a sense of motion which is especially attractive to young audiences.
John Hutton’s work with Thornwillow Press includes Alphababel, Hutton’s interactive picture alphabet book, and illustrations of classic stories such as Cinderella, The Walrus and the Carpenter, A Visit From St Nicholas, and Bill Gordh’s ongoing series of folktales collected from around the world, the Seven Towers of Wonder.