A cheeky owl with one eye cocks his head and gives a look; a delicate-looking fish sprouts legs and seems like it’s ready to run; a squid bubbles thoughtfully underwater. Vermont artist Hilary Ann Love Glass draws animals—or just as often, fanciful creatures—who bare their souls through their eyes, their posture, or the reach of an arm or a wing. Dancing on the line between reality and imagination, her etchings, collages, and pen and ink drawings are fun, elegant and uniquely her own.
Glass splits her work time between her home in Northfield and her studio in Burlington, where she works on her many independent projects and does animal portrait drawing. The mix of reality and fancy comes through in her work whether she’s drawing from a photo of someone’s beloved pet or creating a magical creature from her own mind. When she’s working on her original pieces, she says she has to “try to grasp this hard to see [the] shimmer of an image coming to me from a gut level. It is a slow process but feels really connected to the kid version of myself that knows there are secret worlds within worlds.”
As a child in growing up in Vermont, Glass started drawing when she was “tiny,” she says. She has lived her whole life here, with the exception a six-year stint in Philadelphia after she graduated from the University of Vermont. Though that time was valuable for her growth as an artist, and she spent a lot of time making prints in a printshop down there, she moved back to Vermont, “because I knew I needed to live close to mountains and spend winters near a wood stove,” she says.
For many artists, marketing, money and self-promotion are unsavory necessities of making a living as a creator and a dreamer. Glass says that for quite some time she worried about, and resisted, truly pursuing a professional life as an artist because she was afraid her passion for art and her work would diminish. She has, however, always taken jobs that allow her time to create, including working as an after-school art teacher, a seasonal employee at Chapin Orchard, and a tax-season fill-in at H&R Block. This coming winter, she will be a lift operator at the Sugarbush ski resort.
Though it’s not always something artists are encouraged to think about, she says, “I am very interested in thinking about the business side of making a living as an artist. One: because it is something there is very little training or support for and I want that to change. Two: because I like to geek out about organization and how to improve my own business systems and creative decisions.”
Balancing her creative needs and the practicalities of real life takes thought and planning, but Glass says that as time goes by, she’s able to live a more “art-focused” life, picking up work when she feels financially insecure, but making her art a priority. Vermont’s culture has everything to do with her success, she says. “The art community in this state is 100 percent of the reason I’ve been able to do this work part-time, and maybe full-time in the future.”
Daily life in Vermont also informs Glass’s work in that “studying the world around me always shows me what kind of magical worlds exist in my own imagination,” she says.
She draws on her natural surroundings to influence her more surreal drawings, and says “the more literal, realistic types of projects have an emphasis on technical detail which I experience as a really meditative process … the realistic work is an absolutely essential half of the balancing act for me.”
Glass has big plans for the future; she is finishing up a calendar of seasonal Vermont images and activities (including the all-important wood stacking and creemee eating) and is working on a children’s book. In the future, she’d like to start an artist-in-residence farming program, where artists milk goats or do chores in exchange for room and board. Like her collages, her life and work is a mix of the practical—a date-stamp card from a library book, a piece of corrugated cardboard—and the fantastic—tiny little grinning monsters with pointy ears and teeth. She says, “In the grand scheme of things I have so many dreams. It goes on and on…”