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Bird by Bird:Alex Hubbell on how paint saved her life

An early painting, after the fire

She lost most of her possessions when they went up in flames due to an aberrant accident.

Lost in watercolour

With a backpack, laptop and a little paint set she set off on a journey, with no particular destination in mind.

Bird by Bird

As symbols of hope, the birds gave Alex the feeling of having a plan.

Strokes of Indigo

“I didn’t know what to pick at first. I just picked blue, maybe because that’s how I felt.”

The series

She needed a reason to paint every day, so she decided to take to painting one bird at a time, committing to hundred paintings, without much thought of the outcome.

"Queen Bee" (L), and The "100th Bird" (R)

“I starting letting the paint tell me what to do.”

Alex`s studio

Alex began painting at her studio because that was all she had and was sure of, eventually she found her direction in swirls of Indigo on paper.

Early paintings

“At first my paintings were pretty rough,” she says, explaining the need to narrow down a subject in order to master it.

" Fox"

She hopes to work on a series of wolves and foxes and we’re definitely looking forward to it.

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Showcase 15 Dec 2017

Tales of Indigo: Bird by bird, brush by brush, a story coloured in hues of Indigo

Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Alex Hubbell is an impeccable example of the strength that is born out of hardship. CQ explores the ineffable love for Indigo that lies at the heart of her story as part of our series - Tales of Indigo.

Alex began painting as a child and furthered this passion with formal studies at the Royal College of Art, London. Some time ago, she lost most of her possessions when they went up in flames due to an aberrant accident. With a backpack, laptop and a little paint set she set off on a journey, with no particular destination in mind. “I was confused, lost. I moved to New York City, because that’s what you do, right?,” she reflects. Like many others who move to the city, Alex too found shelter on a friend’s couch, and braced herself for the curious future that lay ahead. 

An early painting, after the fire

She lost most of her possessions when they went up in flames due to an aberrant accident.

 
Early paintings

“At first my paintings were pretty rough,” she says, explaining the need to narrow down a subject in order to master it.

Diving into a chance

Upon coming across an inexpensive sublet for an art studio, Alex, who had never had her own studio before decided to take a chance and visit. “After I saw it, something told me to rent it. If you have a studio, you show up, right? So I showed up and started to paint,” she recalls, winding back to the start of her journey. 

Lost in watercolour

With a backpack, laptop and a little paint set she set off on a journey, with no particular destination in mind.

 
Alex`s studio

Alex began painting at her studio because that was all she had and was sure of, eventually she found her direction in swirls of Indigo on paper.

Although initially Alex began painting at her studio because that was all she had and was sure of, eventually she found her direction in swirls of Indigo on paper. “At first my paintings were pretty rough,” she says, explaining the need to narrow down a subject in order to master it. It was then that she turned towards Indigo. “I didn’t know what to pick at first. I just picked blue, maybe because that’s how I felt,” she expresses. Indigo is coloured with ancient history and countless stories, and to Alex it felt like magic. Once her first show sold out and people started reacting to her work, she gained confidence. 

Bird by Bird

As symbols of hope, the birds gave Alex the feeling of having a plan.

“People have such a strong emotional reaction to my paintings in person. I believe a part of that is to Indigo itself.”

Hope by Bird

Alex’s ‘Bird by Bird’ series, one that has today made its way across the world, had started  with the simple thought of hope. As Kickstarter was hosting a ‘Make/100’ initiative where artists could make hundred of anything they choose, she chose to collaborate with them and create a limited edition of the 100th bird.  As symbols of hope, the birds gave Alex the feeling of having a plan. She needed a reason to paint every day, so she decided to take to painting one bird at a time, committing to hundred paintings, without much thought of the outcome. Using only the Indigo pigment she paints with, she brought her brushes and her fears to paper. 

Strokes of Indigo

“I didn’t know what to pick at first. I just picked blue, maybe because that’s how I felt.”

“I starting letting the paint tell me what to do,” she expressed describing the struggles she previously had. However, even with the wide range of colours to choose from, Indigo found Alex and stayed. “For me, since Indigo is so ancient, it is very spiritual,” she said, adding that the multifarious hues it produced were an added advantage. From light washes to deep dark inky blues, Indigo became a way of expression for Alex. Starting with large brushes and bold stories, Alex slowly picks out details while working and defines the image with smaller brushes., This often resulted in painting several layers and variations of Indigo, as a part of the process. 

The series

She needed a reason to paint every day, so she decided to take to painting one bird at a time, committing to hundred paintings, without much thought of the outcome.

 
"Queen Bee" (L), and The "100th Bird" (R)

“I starting letting the paint tell me what to do.”

“People have such a strong emotional reaction to my paintings in person. I believe a part of that is to Indigo itself,” she described. The paintings were making their way across the globe like birds setting flight. People began saying thank you to Alex while buying her work which felt ironic as for the first time, she felt like she was doing something for herself. Alex returns to Indigo, time and again and to her it remains timeless. With brushes and paint, Alex continues to journey across the world with her stories. Soon, she hopes to work on a series of wolves and foxes and we’re definitely looking forward to it. 

" Fox"

She hopes to work on a series of wolves and foxes and we’re definitely looking forward to it.

Learn more about Alex Hubbell’s work here. Read the rest of the Tales of Indigo series here.