One vet’s journey from the scalpel to the paint brush

Veterinarian-turned-painter Ande Hall, embarking on a second career as an artist, is getting noticed for her talents

Ande Hall has only recently become comfortable referring to herself as an artist. “It has taken me so long to dare to say that out loud,” she said.

Her initial reticence might stem from the fact that for nearly all her professional life she was not an artist at all, but rather a veterinarian.

But everything changed when Hall traded in her scalpel and stethoscope for a paintbrush and a palette in 2016 to become a full-time artist.

Hall always had a fondness for animals, especially horses, which she remembers drawing pictures of as a little girl in kindergarten.

This early childhood interest eventually led her to study equine medicine at the University of Illinois, where she earned a DVM degree in 1983.

From there, she worked mostly with broodmares and backyard horses at a mixed practice she owned with her first husband.

After several years, her passion for equine medicine, not horses, waned because “farm calls for colic at 3 a.m. were draining.”

Through the ensuing years, career and life stops included working with exotics, shelter medicine in northern New Mexico, director of the Santa Fe Emergency Clinic, eight years running her own solo dog-and-cat practice, moving to Kansas in 2008 to remarry and a part-time position in large multi-veterinarian practice.

All told, Hall has spent more than 30 years caring for sick and injured animals, but there was always an artist within waiting to bust out—she just didn’t realize it then.

“When my own children were small, I loved to do children’s art projects with them: drawing, painting, puppets, costumes, etc. Although I clearly had some sort of innate interest in art, I never considered pursuing it seriously,” she said.

But by 2013 she had sold enough of her artwork that she began to think seriously about a second career as an artist.

To date, Hall has sold hundreds of her smaller works and some larger ones, and had one of her paintings grace the cover of a respected veterinary journal.

Hall said she has “obsessive creative disorder,” a term she coined that encapsulates what makes her tick artistically. She describes being moved, touched and impelled to create by the things she sees and likewise wishes to pay it forward by moving, touching and making others smile through her art.

In the art world, Hall is what’s known as an “emerging artist”—someone who is just starting to achieve recognition.

Hall is perfectly happy with the simpler appellation of artist.

Veterinary Practice News: Was a second career as an artist always the plan?

Ande Hall: I had always admired painters, and always loved to visit art galleries, but I didn’t start to paint until 2012. After I began to sell my art online in 2013, I started to think about becoming more serious about art. But it took a couple more years to gather the courage and conviction to go full time.

Observing the careers of other artists blossom and grow made me think, “Why not me?”

VPN: Share your unusual process of using fabric as your canvas.

AH: I am not the only artist to paint on top of patterned fabric. Artists are huge on experimentation. But I haven’t seen any one else using patterned fabric in the same way that I do. And yes, the process that I use is one that I developed independently.

VPN: What early artistic successes have you had?

AH: I am not yet making a living as an artist. I have sold a few hundred small, inexpensive works, mostly online. I have sold a few large works, and that has been very gratifying.

VPN: Where would you like to be in five years as an artist?

AH: I intend to keep growing and evolving artistically. My sketchbooks are full of ideas waiting to be developed. I hope to have my work in galleries in multiple cities. I am so grateful that the internet has enabled me to sell my art internationally from a small town in rural Kansas. But my larger work is much better appreciated in person. I have three solo exhibitions scheduled during the next three years and plan to keep expanding on that.

VPN: How would you describe your style?

AH: It’s still somewhat flexible, as I am still a relatively immature artist. But two adjectives that have often been applied to my work are “bold” and “graphic.”

VPN: Talk about one of your pieces recently gracing the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JVAMA).

AH: Any artist can submit work to be on the JAVMA cover, but I imagine they get way more submissions than they have issues. So, it was a huge honor to be chosen. I sent them a link to my website, and they picked my “Paisley Paws de Deux” for the March 15 cover.

VPN: When creating your paintings, do you use photos of animals, 3D printers, sketches or something else as a starting point?

AH: I mostly get my inspiration from photos. I usually make sketches to create my composition. Sometimes I use Photoshop to help me with composition as well. Then I sketch my outlines freehand onto my surface. When I am working large, I usually draw a grid on my surface to help me keep my proportions accurate.

VPN: What do your family members and fellow veterinarians think of your artwork?

AH: Family and former colleagues have been hugely supportive. Without emotional support from family, I wouldn’t have had the courage to quit my veterinary practice and go full time with my art. It has been, and still is, a scary process. There is no guarantee of success in the art world. Some of my fellow veterinarians also have purchased my art to hang in their clinics and homes.

VPN: What do your prints and originals cost, and where can people get them?

AH: Quality reproductions of the painting that was on the JAVMA cover (along with many of my other popular paintings) are available, with prices starting at $20. Prints and originals can be purchased directly from my website——with prices starting at $75.

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