A born and bred Northern Californian, Caitlin Hackett is predisposed to the complexity of the natural world, but also the simplicity it radiates when the labels fall off. Her work is, paradoxically speaking, as classic as it is esoteric- the themes she centers on have infatuated illustrators in all reaches of humanity, but she presents them to us with contemporary grace. Caitlin cites the mythological as a crucial influence, and like the stories themselves, she blurs the lines between the earth and our minuscule perception of it, an idea that perhaps has never been as urgent as it is today.
As a painter and illustrator, Caitlin can push an image from its most intricate, half- hidden roots to its boldest element, stringing along a solid statement at the same time. Her myriad of techniques draws out the tentative child in our bones, beckoning until we are absorbed by the storybook scene. The overall color scheme is made surreal and inviting by the subdued watercolor tint, an effect that fades the blues and off- whites to a nostalgia you know but can’t quite put a finger on. In terms of composition, Caitlin’s use of space is rich, even royal, as she fills it with movement and interaction. Brushstrokes, pen strokes, strokes of quiet genius, every line is fluid and renders the given piece endless.
The flora and fauna in Caitlin’s portfolio is an indicator of the artist’s introspection; a look into her own human form and an understanding of the fact that the body is a part of something greater, while the mind is what allows that something greater into existence. Her cover design for the book Dark Stories By Dark Artists, picturing a human profile clad in a cascading bird’s mask with a haunting emphasis on the eyes is an interpretation of that relationship between man and world, throwing away the ‘versus’ in between.
Her work for The Lilac Fairy Book is a narrative, featuring a succession of images that share an inherent innocence, where hands meet fur and feathers in a display of mutual compassion. Only the Stars Remember, a painting of an amber- eyed wolf with a coat of darkened sky is especially evocative because it is something wild. The animal in the image senses something beyond the frame and reaches towards it, suspended in a state of timelessness and bearing the past on an arched back.
And so Caitlin defines her wilderness, sending a universal message to a big deaf world by immortalizing the frail connections within it. It’s something that absolutely needs to be said, and artists like her, people that don’t let themselves dwell in a purported helplessness when it comes to the destruction around them, are the people who know when there’s something precious inside of them and why it matters.