Amos Hummell has always had a hard time defining his art styles - plural.
Over the past 25 years, he has created three-dimensional sculptures out of junk, colorful beads out of polymer, metal signs bearing his young sons' clever remarks, and "normal" paintings on canvas.
Still, his heart is in cartooning - even though as a student, his cartoons of teachers got him into detention.
Long-time Bluffton residents might remember when Hummell brought his art to life on the stage at his former Calhoun Street studio from May 2005 to September 2007. The third Friday of each month, his Living Colors art performances told a new story of Art Boy, his Art Goddess, the wealthy patron (The Baron) and the Art Angel, all trying to save the world through art. "We were going to turn Old Town Bluffton into an art Mecca," he said recently.
While more art eventually came to Bluffton, Hummell retreated in late 2007, when art became a victim of the economy.
But the self-taught artist never stopped creating. Over the past few years, Hummell has taken his art into a more classic format - paint on canvas. His fish series, "Missing Poissons," featured hidden fish in textured layers of color. The last of the series now hangs in Studio B Marketplace in Bluffton, awaiting permanent homes.
Recently, he finished a piece on deadline for an art show. But he didn't like it. When he showed it to his most honest critics, they didn't like it either.
"Then I mapped out a second one in the vein of the first one," he said. But there was no excitement for him. "It wasn't fun.'"
So he sat down and did some "random experiments" and came up with "some interesting things. It was crazy. And it was much better."
Now, Hummell said, he is embarking on a new adventure with his paintings. As always, it is difficult for him to name, but he can describe it: "Basically, what I do is crazy stuff that makes people laugh - or at least smile," he said.
The new work might be a bit different from the expected. "I am embracing the abstract," he said. "I've always aspired to be a cartoonist, so this is a coming together of the Living Colors experience, theatre and forays into painting, coming together with the heart of the cartoonist."
But the fish are still present. Fish give an artist a lot of latitude, he said. And fish can be crazy, he said. And colorful.
"I think people like crazy. I like crazy," he said. "I think people are fascinated by crazy. I'm fascinated by crazy."
Hummell's work can be seen at Studio B Marketplace in Bluffton, and The Karis Gallery and Art League of Hilton Head on the island.
For more information, visit www. hummellstudios.com or find Studio B on Facebook.