Maryville native and University of Tennessee student Leslie Hatten gathered with friends and family recently at Tomato Head restaurant to show off some of the paintings she has completed while finishing up her senior year.
Hatten, 23, is majoring in Fine Arts with a concentration in painting. She said all of her paintings on display at the restaurant during the Jan. 31 reception were completed last semester with the exception of four or five.
“I make paintings quickly,” said Hatten. “Even some of the bigger ones took only two or three days. I like to work really fast, put it away, and come back to it. I don’t spend a lot of time with one thing. I want it to be fresh and clean. It is intuitive.”
Hatten said she took painting and drawing classes in high school but was hesitant to major in art in college. “I thought, ‘Where is it going to take me?’ But that does not matter because it is what makes me happy,” she said. “I’ll find a way to make a career of it. I’m going to graduate school which will open up opportunities to teach.”
She’s considering Columbia University and Hunter College in New York City and Rhode Island School of Design.
Hatten said she usually describes her art as being based on color or texture. “I want them to be sensual pieces. I want people to want to touch them,” she said. “When people ask, I describe it as abstract. I want the works to be about the paint and not the picture.”
Hatten said her family and friends have been very supportive. “Even those who may not get it have been real supportive,” she said.
Kirby Taylor is also a senior majoring in Fine Arts with a concentration in painting. She and Hatten share an art studio at UT. “She’s really talented, and I’m excited to see where she goes in the future,” Taylor said.
Hatten’s mother, Jenny Hatten, said she is proud of her daughter. “The thing I’m most proud about her is she has such a determination. She plans on making it big,” she said.
Jenny Hatten said initially she didn’t understand her daughter’s work. “At first I didn’t get it, but maybe I’ve grown with her. What I get is she sees something, and I may see something else, and she’s OK with that,” she said.
Leslie Hatten’s father, Richard, said as his daughter has pursued her art, she has become more confident. “The main thing I’ve seen is how she’s developed a huge amount of confidence in herself to put her artwork out there and let people see it,” he said. “Leslie has always been a very independent child. I have every confidence she can stand on her own two feet. She’s got a great self-confidence in her artwork.”
Richard Hatten said he appreciates his daughter pursuing art because it runs in the family. “Her great-grandfather owned Lobdell Scenic Studios in Rosedale, Miss., and painted a lot of backdrops for studios,” he said.
Her grandmother, Richard Hatten’s mother, also did water colors. “Now Leslie is into painting,” he said.
Katie Gamble, executive director of the Maryville Arts Coalition was thankful to Tomato Head restaurant for being willing to help artists show their work. “I think it’s absolutely great there are places where Maryville artists can come and show their art,” she said.