The last two-and-a-half of Devin Hutcheson’s teen years were stuff that dreams.. and nightmares… are made of. But now, after completing treatment for t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia, the 19-year-old is focused on living with a happy state of mind, a renewed spirit, and a life outlook beyond his years.
The first year of treatment was grueling. Hutcheson spent five months in the hospital, lost 40-pounds and all of his hair – twice – and had eight feeding tubes. Multiple rounds of high dose steroids have caused necrosis of the bone tissue in his knees, hips, and elbows, preventing participation in sports, hiking, or biking.
Hutcheson fills the void by driving into the sunset down windy back roads, all the while working towards what he calls his “ideal life” of making a living as a full-time artist while traveling across the county park-hopping in a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon… an orange one specifically. But also, he wants to give back to other kids going through medical crisis, specifically teens who he feels often get overlooked.
Hutcheson says that during his hospital stays, many charities visited and came around to the rooms to help support the kids in the unit. But when they got to him, there wasn’t much they could offer; they didn’t have anything for kids in his age group.
“Coloring books and fidget spinners just didn’t do it for me anymore,” he explains. His future plans include filling in this gap to help other teens undergoing treatment.
The contrast between life now and during treatment echo Hutcheson’s aesthetic.
“Straight clean lines please the mind but splashes of color spark imagination. Abstract textures fuel the flame that clean lines leave an absence of,” he explains.
Hutcheson’s art is mixed-media, using acrylic and spray paint. At first glance, the eye is drawn to the bold graphic shape with clean, colorful lines but a study of the background reveals the abstract graffiti that contracts the boldness with subtlety.
A middle child born in Massachusetts before becoming a Virginia resident in 2005 and a resident of Haymarket since 2011, this Battlefield High School graduate has always felt his talents included an eye for color and design. The year 2016 found him foraying into art, inspired by artist Alec Monopoly and his use of graffiti in his painting. Hutcheson says he simply grabbed a canvas and some spray paint to see what would happen. He then began following other artists and fell more and more in love with graffiti art and how he could put his personal spin on it.
“I love and am currently inspired by the art of Alec Monopoly, Captain Casual, Alexander Mijares, Kaws, and many more,” he says of these artists who create contemporary, vibrant, colorful works.
But when cancer treatment began to consume his life, art went on hold while Hutcheson concentrated on the battle. He barely painted at all the first year but his spirit began to revive during year two, with him really “ramping it up” towards 2019. Since May, his ability to paint has been the most consistent.
When asked if his painting allowed him to process his cancer battle, his answer was no; the two often butted heads. However, the farther the end of treatment fades behind him, the more he is able to see it for what it was and how much of a turn his path has taken.
“It has helped my mindset to realize there isn’t time to be sad or mad. We have one life and it could be over any second so we need to enjoy it,” says Hutcheson.
This life philosophy is Hutcheson’s signature; in the art world, he is known as Devin HSM, which stands for Happy State of Mind. While on a plane ride during a Make-a-Wish trip to Australia, Hutcheson glimpsed a rainbow and his thoughts turned to his late grandfather, someone he adored. He began to feel an urge for change, and the HSM phrase popped into his mind. He knew this was it; his identity and his focus were clear.
“HSM represents the happiness people always wish to find on this journey we call life. It represents how nobody wants to be sad and that happiness isn’t just one destination but it’s more about a journey. HSM fuses these two journeys that we work towards until death,” says Hutcheson.
But this wonderful trip to Australia did so much more for Hutcheson. For one, it fulfilled his lifelong dream of holding a koala. Secondly, the trip served as a super inspirational experience; Devin HSM went on a creating spree when he got home, making over 70 digital works in just about 45 days.
Life today finds Hutcheson painting in his basement studio or hanging with his family which includes older brother Andrew, younger brother Jack and his dog Sassy. His first solo exhibit was held at the Haymarket Medical Center Community Gallery from October to January.
To see Hutcheson’s art, go to www.devinsart.com or follow his Instagram @devinHSM. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase.