ERIN HANSON is a life-long painter, beginning her study of oils as a young child. Her passion for natural beauty is seen in her work as she transforms vistas familiar and rare into stunning interpretations of bold color, playful rhythms and raw emotional impact. Her frequent forays into National Parks and other recesses of nature include backpacking expeditions, rock climbing, and photo safaris. Hanson’s unique painting style has become known as Open Impressionism, with hundreds of collectors eagerly anticipating her work. “Open-impressionism is a contemporary blend of classic impressionism and modern expressionism, with a plein-air-style technique. These oil paintings are created wet-on-wet, without layering, relying on the vibrant underpainting for a transparency effect. Open-impressionism is all about capturing impressions of a landscape, memories and fleeting glimpses of color. I am not trying to re-create a photograph, I am trying to get my viewers to open their eyes and see their world a little differently.” ~Erin to MyModernMet. As an iconic, driving force in the rebirth of contemporary impressionism, Hanson is quickly recognized as a prolific, modern master.
Hanson’s works hang in collectors homes internationally. Her works have also been displayed in the St. George Art Museum, La Salle University Art Museum, Mattatuck Art Museum and Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art.
Erin Hanson Q/A
AFA: You travel extensively and bring the beauty of various locations into your paintings. Do you have a favorite place of inspiration?
EH: “Right now I am drawn to painting Canyon de Chelly, a beautiful monument in Arizona.”
AFA: Which is more important to you: Paint to satisfy your own urges and sensibilities, or paint to satisfy others’ perceptions of who Erin is and what she can do with her tools? Or put more simply – Do the opinions of other people influence or change what you create?
EH: “I was lucky enough to develop my style without the pressure of having to sell my work and cater to ‘what would sell.’ In 2006 I was rock climbing and living in Las Vegas, while creating one oil painting per week. After a year (50 paintings), my paintings had become a consistent style of blocky, impressionistic, impasto paintings that I still create today, 10 years and 1,200 paintings later. Patrons have always been drawn to my work, so I just try to be the very best that I can be at my own style, which I eventually named ‘Open Impressionism.'”
AFA: Most artists would be intimidated by using only 4 or 5 colors at a time, as you do – explain why you use a very limited, palette and its effect on your finished works.
EH: “By using a limited palette of basic primaries, I am able to create a very broad range of colors, which yet do not get muddy.”
AFA: If your paintings were edible, what would they taste like?
EH: “Butter cream frosting.”
AFA: Our collectors seem to be flocking to heavily textured paintings, especially landscapes. You define your chunky textured style of painting as “open impressionism.” Please elaborate on what that term means to you.
EH: “My style was born while painting rocks over and over, hundreds of times, while climbing them of course. Rocks are naturally very chunky with clearly delineated lines and flat planes of distinct color. My coloration and moods are more expressionistic, while my influences are impressionist/post-impressionistic. The term Open Impressionism communicates this blend of expressionism and impressionism, but with a contemporary or ‘open’ flair. I also try to capture the actual feeling of being outside in the open air, and I try to capture the motion one naturally feels outdoors. My techniques are quite different from traditional oil paintings techniques: I do not layer, nor do I use turpentine. I create my paintings wet-on-wet, trying to get the brush strokes ‘right the first time,’ which lends a fresh and spontaneous effect to the works.”
AFA: You’ve said that you did a lot of repetitive drawing while honing your skills in school. Is drawing or sketching still a big part of your routine?
EH: “I do not draw from life much any more, since oil paint has become my medium of choice. I am so glad I was such a dedicated sketcher when I was younger; it would have been impossible to capture three dimensions in paint without that experience. I do always create a pencil thumbnail sketch before I start painting, and sometimes I become quite attached to my little pre-drawings!”
AFA: Most artists we interview have a music routine that accompanies them while painting. What does your favorite playlist include?
EH: “I do like to listen to music while I paint, but I much prefer listening to audiobooks. I grew up in a family of readers (my parents had a policy of no television), and I miss having the time to lay on the couch reading for hours late into the night. So, now I eat through books at the rate of a few per week – listening while I paint and getting lost in the stories. I love classical sci-fi and English lit the best.“
AFA: Name one thing on your ‘bucket list.’
EH: “To see the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.”Visit Artist's Page
More From This Artist
Crystalline light filters through the oak tree in this impressively large oil painting of Texas hill country. The brush strokes are thick and impressionistic, conveying a sense of movement throughout the painting. The colors vibrate with intensity, capturing the beauty of the wide outdoors. "Crystal Hues" was created on 1-1/2" canvas, with the painting continued around the edges. The piece ships free and arrives framed in a hand-carved, gold open impressionism frame.
The shores of Pebble Beach are filled with colorful rocks that catch the early morning light and transform into jeweled hues of pink and sherbet orange. This impressionist painting captures the fleeting light of dawn and the movement of the waves beneath the transforming sky."Dawning Cypress" was created on 1-1/2" canvas, with the painting continued around the edges. The painting ships free and arrives framed in a hand-carved, gold floater frame.