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Art: Beauty Inspired by Nature

Interview with the Artist

Monday, July 3, 2023

In a recent interview, Erin Hanson spoke with Turkish interviewer 
Yazı Cansu Karakuş for a piece in L'Officiel Türkiye (Turkey). 
Below is a translated version of the interview that was published:

Following the traces left by their brushes on the canvas, we find ourselves at a moment where we can touch the focal point of art. We are immersed in the depths of dimensional landscapes with Erin Hanson, the creator of the "Open Impressionism" movement.

Hanson's art is beauty inspired by nature

Observe, feel, and convey.

Impressionism promises us access to more than what an artist sees. It transforms every image that passes through the filters of the mind and emotions into a painting, adding them to its archive. We trace the brushstrokes in the many impressionist paintings going back to the 1870s.

In this era of curiosity and reshaping, we know that the emergence of Impressionism was more than a coincidence. We embark on a journey to explore the emphasis on emotions depicted through colors in these paintings. It is a period that represents both the most traditional and groundbreaking era of art.

After the first brushstrokes of Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, we witness the subsequent painters defying objective reality and breaking the rules. Of course, years pass, and time flows. Just like in every field, we also encounter different techniques in Impressionism.

Impression by Claude Monet

Standing against this art movement that previously broke the rules is "post-Impressionism," one of the first rebellious styles. Using approaches that push boundaries, it challenges the technique of the previous Impressionists. In this famous period, our paths cross with van Gogh.

Irises, Vincent van Gogh

And now, as we intersect with the renowned artist Erin Hanson and her paintings, we witness the convergence of Impressionism and Hanson's story.

Coastal Visions by Erin Hanson

Interviewer: How did your love for Impressionism and art begin?

Hanson: Since the age of six, I have always wanted to be a painter, and at that time, I saw van Gogh's painting Irises. Later, I planted irises in our garden with my mother and eagerly awaited their blooming to see the same beauty I saw in van Gogh's painting. When the irises finally bloomed, their small size and plain colors disappointed me.

That's when I realized that art could be more beautiful than nature.

I started painting with oil paints when I was eight years old. My art teacher taught me that, in order to become a painter when I grew up, I had to make art every day. I have many memories of sketching my face in the mirror, my siblings, my cats, and the trees around my house.

Sedona Irises by Erin Hanson

Interviewer: Can you tell us about the seeds of the Open Impressionism movement?

Erin Hanson: Growing up in Los Angeles, I had a great appreciation for nature. Whenever we escaped the city and went hiking or backpacking, the clean air and vast open spaces amazed me.

After graduating from university with a biomedical engineering degree, I decided I didn't want to be trapped in a laboratory. Instead, I moved to the red rock desert of the Colorado Plateau in Utah to start rock climbing. That was when I began painting one piece each week and decided to see where my art would take me.

Landscapes were an obvious subject to paint. For me, there is nothing more beautiful than nature. While trying to capture the beauty of the rocks I climbed, I developed a new technique of using oil paints that allowed the underpainting to show through the brushstrokes, resembling a mosaic or stained glass. Before picking up a brush, I premixed my palette using only five colors and did a detailed underpainting sketch. I planned out the piece beforehand to ensure the correct placement of each stroke on the first try.

So far, I have created over a thousand contemporary works in this unique Impressionist style.

Joshua Rock by Erin Hanson

Interviewer: You successfully represent yourself with the Erin Hanson Gallery. Can you tell us about your journey of turning your art into a profession?

Erin Hanson: Before attempting to sell my artwork, I spent a year painting (completing one piece per week - about fifty paintings at the time). I discovered selling my own artwork and connecting with collectors enabled me to produce the best work possible without relying on the judgments of established art galleries.

In a short period, I built an enthusiastic group of collectors who followed my work and purchased my paintings before they even dried on the shelves. Once I realized I could take control of the business side of my art, I started creating my own giclee prints. Then, I established my own website, moved from a three-car garage into a large warehouse, and began organizing gallery events, propelling my career forward. When I realized I couldn't do everything alone, I started hiring people to help me. Now I have a team of fifteen people assisting me in my work, allowing me to focus on painting.

Saguaro Sky by Erin Hanson

Interviewer: We know that you predominantly paint landscapes and we see traces of David Hockney's details in your work. Can you tell us about your sources of inspiration? How does photography or being in nature influence your art?

Erin Hanson: Landscapes are the most beautiful subjects I can paint. I draw inspiration from gnarled oaks, graceful sycamore trees, and the myriad shapes of trees. I love the colors of the sky, the colors of the golden hour, and the constant changing of light through the mountains, hills, and rocks. I enjoy painting water and reflections, wildflowers, and blooming trees. The interaction between shadows and light along a landscape provides me with endless inspiration for compositions.

Before starting a painting, the first step is to go out into nature and capture the beauty I see with my camera. I use these rough shots as references while painting. I often use multiple photographs simultaneously because no single photo can create a perfect painting. My goal is not to copy a photograph but to recreate the experience of being outdoors.

River Blues by Erin Hanson

Interviewer: Have you ever tried other painting styles? Which one left the biggest impact on you?

Erin Hanson: When I was younger, I experimented with various painting styles, including realism, still life, and animal portraits. I worked with acrylics, pen and ink, pastels, and watercolors. The technique that impacted me most was creating comic art during my university years. At that time, I was also practicing Japanese brush art, and I loved outlining the color planes with black ink, almost like a mosaic. This technique later influenced my oil paintings when I started creating landscape artwork again a few years later.

Aspen Hues by Erin Hanson

Interviewer: As both a painter and a successful businesswoman, how does your day usually unfold?

Erin Hanson: I spend the first few hours of each day handling administrative tasks, coordinating with gallery managers, writing articles or blogs, making plans for exhibitions, and responding to emails. After lunch, I start painting. I also spend my Sundays with my 3-year-old daughter. She loves coming to the gallery and has already set up her own little easel next to mine.

Interviewer: Is the process of bringing your paintings to life similar? How do you usually start and finish them?

Erin Hanson: I typically plan my paintings using pencil sketches and color studies, and then I mix my palette before picking up a brush. Once I have the brush in my hand, I work quickly and strive to capture the vibrant liveliness of the outdoors with confident brushstrokes.

After creating thousands of paintings, my routine remains fairly consistent. However, with each new painting, I always try to challenge myself and never feel satisfied. I continuously strive to improve in capturing light or finding a particular effect in the landscape. I constantly experiment with new color combinations, angles, and compositions to discover the best way to bring nature to life on my canvas.

Amethyst Light by Erin Hanson

Interviewer: Can you describe your Impressionist world in three words?

Erin Hanson: Color, movement, texture.

Lilies Impressions by Erin Hanson

Interviewer: As an artist who continues to use paint and brush, what are your thoughts on digital artworks?

Erin Hanson: Computers are certainly a valid medium for creating artwork. However, I don't believe digital artists should start with other artists' works and modify them. I believe art should be a unique creation from start to finish. For example, art generated by artificial intelligence combines existing images from other artists on the internet and recombines them in new ways. This means it's not a unique creation that comes from the mind of an artist.

Thank you, Yazı Cansu Karakuş , for this wonderful interview!

If you want to learn more about Erin Hanson and her works, explore her portfolio here.

About Erin

ERIN HANSON has been painting in oils since she was 8 years old. As a teenager, she apprenticed at a mural studio where she worked on 40-foot-long paintings while selling art commissions on the side. After being told it was too hard to make a living as an artist, she got her degree in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley. Afterward, Erin became a rock climber at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Inspired by the colorful scenery she was climbing, she decided to return to her love of painting and create one new painting every week.

She has stuck to that decision, becoming one of the most prolific artists in history, with over 3,000 oil paintings sold to eager collectors. Erin Hanson’s style is known as "Open Impressionism" and is taught in art schools worldwide. With millions of followers, Hanson has become an iconic, driving force in the rebirth of impressionism, inspiring thousands of other artists to pick up the brush.