Erin Hanson – Sierra Shadow
Impressionistic landscape artist, Erin Hanson is joining the rapidly growing roster of artists dwelling in NELA’s Frogtown. Located just between the 2 and 5 freeways this neighborhood is a newly tread stomping ground for artists looking to be a part of an art scene brimming with creativity while dodging high rental rates found on the West Side.
We had a moment to get into the mind of this edgy and vibrant new artist. Art lovers are invited to join Hanson in celebration of her new gallery space from 5pm – 10th on Saturday, November 14th.
I hear that you actually lived in the Silver Lake neighborhood when you were quite young. NELA has evolved quite a bit over the years, what draws you back to the area?
Yes, I lived in Silver Lake from age 5 to 12. I loved hopping our 6-ft wrought iron fence and exploring the neighborhood, looking for wild lemon grass and fennel to eat. One of the memories that sticks out the most was trying to drive through a flooded underpass, the only way to get home to Parkman Ave. There had been a solid week of torrential downpour, and to get home we literally had to float across 6 feet of water in our car to get to the other side, the tires actually leaving the ground at one point. Yes, the neighborhood has changed quite a bit, there aren’t so many helicopters, search lights and broken glass everywhere like I remember.
Erin Hanson – ThePath
It is great being back in Silver Lake. I spent over a year looking for the ideal warehouse that I could convert into a gallery, and all the realtors kept recommending Frogtown as the new up-and-coming artist neighborhood. And they were right, I found the perfect location to expand to. The person leasing the building before me was an artist, and my two direct neighbors are both artists.
Opening a gallery is a strong business move, how does this tie in with where you see your career progressing?
I have always been a bit of daredevil as an artist, taking my career into my own hands and not playing the usual game of waiting for a good gallery to pick me up. This involves driving solo for 24 hours at a time across country to attend top-notch art festivals, working 80 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, paying for my own marketing, and having to learn everything from HTML to book publishing. When I first decided to make the move from amateur to professional artist, 9 years ago, all I had was a beat-up 1970’s pickup truck and a pop-up tent. I decided I would create one oil painting every week, which would keep my painting skills progressing and sharp, and I would apply the business sense I’ve had since a young child to the business of being an artist. Since then I have somehow managed to double my income from selling paintings every year, almost to the dollar. After the City of Burbank let me know I could no longer paint in my 3-car garage (neighbor complaints of “too many canvases”) I decided I would move my business down the street and test out an idea that had been tickling me: how to have a professional gallery setting without paying retail rates and having to work in a separate location. My studio/gallery was a great success, allowing me to work and be productive during the day, while also accepting appointments to show my work under beautiful lighting. The only problem was I outgrew my little 2,000 sq ft place in Glendale.
The gallery space is clearly quite customized, where did you draw inspiration for the layout and wall color?
Erin Hanson – Windy Light
Once I finally found the perfect warehouse to convert into a gallery, I immediately made a scale model on 4 sheets of graph paper, cut out little shapes to represent all my property, and set about moving around pieces of graph-paper drywall until everything fit properly. Then I started hiring contractors, starting with someone to polish my concrete floor to fine finish. It was so satisfying to see everything rise up from scratch and see my vision turn into reality… like creating an oil painting… except it took 6 weeks and cost $30k!
On that note, wallpaper and colored walls are very much on trend. What are some of your favorites?
I went with the museum favorite wall color of a grayish-midnight blue for my gallery walls, and a perfect cool-toned cranberry for the entry way, set off with light gray accent walls and darker gray vinyl flooring. These colors are designed to make my paintings really pop, especially in a classic gilded frame. I absolutely love wallpaper and always drool over Anthropologie home decorating catalogs. I am hoping to upgrade my bathrooms to wallpaper soon.
Where are your favorite locations to get inspiration for your pieces?
I travel all over the Western states, hiking, backpacking and exploring (it’s been years since I’ve rock climbed, but that was the original inspiration for my landscape paintings.) I love to go to the Colorado Plateau every year, hiking through Zion and the other National Parks and Monuments. In January, I am actually having my first solo museum show in St. George, Utah, featuring 40 paintings I have done of National Parks. I also love painting California wine country, especially Paso Robles and Monterey.
You style is very unique; can you tell us a bit about how this evolved?
My style of painting is very chunky and abstracted. Some of the evolution came from painting a lot of comic art and Japanese landscapes in ink while I was in college studying bioengineering. When I moved to Las Vegas and started rock climbing every week, I decided I would get back into painting (this was when I decided I would make one painting every week.) The obvious thing to paint was rocks… lots and lots of rocks, in all colors and shapes and lighting. The dark cracks in the rocks, separating out the flat planes of color, were easy and fun to paint, and my style developed from there. When I moved back to California several years ago, I decided that fluffy oak trees and winding rivers were really just like differently shaped rocks and I could apply my same technique to painting them. From there, an almost mosaic style of painting has evolved, which I like to call “Open Impressionism.”
What is the question you get most often from fans?
The question I get asked most often is, “When did you start oil painting?” I tell them 30 years ago, which is true (I am 34), but I usually get the same response (due to my round and youthful face, no doubt): Oh, so you started painting in the womb. I actually did start painting in oils very young; I went to a small private school where my mother was a teacher, and I had the same art instructor for 10 years. My parents did not allow a television in the house when I was growing up, so my three younger brothers and I played around and built things (and destroyed things), and to escape I would climb into my little sunroom which was my very own room, and I would immerse myself into oil painting and creating beautiful and magic worlds out of a blank white canvas.
For More Information About Erin Hanson Visit: www.erinhanson.com