A Painter and Pizza-Lover Meets His Match Designing Mezzalunas
Meet Pat McKinney, the artist behind Hearth & Fire’s newest Denver collaboration
Pat, tell us about your journey with art. What brought you to painting?
Pat McKinney: I grew up in a big family that had a passion for music and art. My grandpa was an amazing artist who worked as a professional illustrator in Chicago, and he inspired me early on. My parents always encouraged me to embrace my creativity, which I am very grateful for.
In 2012, I moved to Colorado to pursue a BFA in illustration from Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design. After I graduated, I picked up a spray paint can and fell in love with mural work. A few years late, I revisited painting. Once a medium that I was not super confident with, it soon turned into a favorite of mine.
How would you describe the Denver art scene?
PM: I would say communal, supportive and friendly. Overall, Denver is a really positive and fun space for creating. Most artists actively lift each other up, share jobs and embrace collaboration. I appreciate how much the city appreciates the arts as well.
What made you excited about the Hearth & Fire project? Was this something outside of your comfort zone?
PM: For one, I love pizza and love to paint, so it seemed like a no-brainer to me. I also think Hearth & Fire had an awesome idea to incorporate craftsmanship in the launch of their pizzas. I was not necessarily completely out of my comfort zone with the project, but the mezzalunas were definitely one of the more unique canvases I painted.
Walk us through your creative process for this project.
PM: First off comes creating the design, which is half the battle. When I thought about the design for Hearth & Fire, my mind immediately went to the fresh pizza ingredients, such as whole basil and roasted shiitake mushrooms, so I decided to make that the focus. Now comes the fun part— sketching and then painting. This can be pretty experimental. Since the mezzalunas are a confined shape, it gave me an opportunity to be a little more impressionistic and free-style some of the brushstrokes, which gives the pieces a fun energy.