Erin Hanson’s paintings of Big Bend Country on view in Alpine, Texas; the Legacy Gallery’s 30th anniversary in Scottsdale, Arizona, and other calendar-worthy events in the art world.
Raised in the desert and mountain regions outside Los Angeles, Erin Hanson grew up with a passion for nature and art. Art lessons from the age of 6 helped her master basic techniques, and working at a mural studio during high school increased her knowledge.
But it was a move to Las Vegas in her early 20s that changed her life — and her art. There she discovered Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire, where she painted her first landscape in what she calls her “open impressionism” style.
“I made a decision at this point in my life to create one painting every week, and I spent two years rock climbing and exploring the landscapes of Nevada and southern Utah, painting the scenery I loved,” Hanson says. “When I started painting red rock landscapes, I knew I needed to use a lot of color, and the thick texture of my paintings was a response to the bulky rocks I was climbing.”
Big Sky by Erin Hanson/The Erin Hanson Gallery
Today she creates and sells art in her studio and gallery space in her home base of San Diego, where she finds the landscape inspiring. “When I open my curtains, I see beautiful puffy trees and, at dusk, the wonderful sunsets.”
Recently Hanson has turned her sights toward the Lone Star State. “I love how isolated and out-of-the-way Big Bend National Park is,” she says. “You drive for hours and hours and suddenly you arrive into a surreal terrain of strange mountainous peaks and thousands of ocotillo cacti. Another favorite aspect of Big Bend Country is the big sky! The giant thunderclouds and swiftly changing cloudscapes will be a recurring element in my collection of Big Bend Country paintings.”
Big Bend Ocotillo by Erin Hanson/The Erin Hanson Gallery
C&I talked with Hanson as she prepared for a show of her Big Bend paintings in Alpine, Texas.
Cowboys & Indians: What are your sources of inspiration?
Erin Hanson: It just boils down to the outdoors and the natural beauty on this planet. When I was creating my last collection [The Red Rock Show], a 15-piece collection quickly grew to 23 pieces, and I could have kept painting. I still had about 30 other compositions I wanted to create, all inspired by the national parks and monuments around Utah and Arizona. ... The views you find in the West are so uniquely American. You really can’t experience places like Canyon de Chelly and Big Bend with anything but a complete sense of wonder.
C&I: Tell us about your creative process.
Hanson: The first step is always nature. I try to get out into the great outdoors and really look. When I am out in the field I take many reference photos to use later in the studio. When I am home I come up with a composition and color palette that capture the emotional feeling of being out of doors. I want my paintings to really be an impression of what it’s like to stand on the edge of a cliff looking down into a canyon, or to experience a brilliant sunset along the coastline, or to see the grandeur of a national park for the first time. I do a lot of prep work before I start painting, including several sketches, a small painting sketch, laying out my composition on my primed canvas, and premixing my entire color palette from four or five primary colors. Once I know exactly what direction my painting is going in, I pick up a brush and start to paint. This allows me to have a loose and painterly style that is always “right the first time.”
C&I: What do you hope to communicate with your art?
Hanson: I like to concentrate on a single factor when I am designing a painting. This communication might be as simple as “Look at how the oak trees appear to create a circle around a disappearing path” or “Look at the contrast between the sun-lit regions and the shadowed regions.” This lets me focus my artist communication and create a central theme in my painting. The overall communication in my artwork is always about natural beauty and encouraging people to enjoy the natural landscapes that surround us.
Erin Hanson: Impressions of Big Bend Country is on view through December 16 at the Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine, Texas. The artist is represented by The Erin Hanson Gallery in San Diego and Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery in Tucson, Arizona.
Through January 6, 2019
Audubon in the Exotic West: North American Quadrupeds
In 1843 famed naturalist John James Audubon ventured west again on his last mission: to study and document the mammals of North America. This exhibition features 107 stone lithographic prints from that work, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, a collection of 150 hand-printed, hand-colored folio drawings. Audubon died before completing the project, which was finished by his sons, John and Victor. Rockwell Museum, Corning, New York, 607.937.5386, rockwellmuseum.org
A Timeless Heritage
The Legacy Gallery is celebrating its 30th anniversary with an exhibition featuring 30 top Western artists — including Scott Christensen, John Coleman, Glenn Dean, Martin Grelle, Jeremy Lipking, John and Terry Moyers, Jim Norton, and Kyle Polzin — and special presentations by Coleman and C. Michael Dudash. All pieces will be sold by draw or auction. The Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona, 480.945.1113, legacygallery.com
November 8 – 11
Death Valley 49ers Invitational Western Art Show
Part of the annual Death Valley 49ers Encampment since 1951, the show includes artist booths and an artist breakfast; two “people’s composite” events, in which the public is invited to paint on a group project with an artist; two quick draws; and auctions. Death Valley, California, 619.460.5740, deathvalley49ers.org
November 16 – 17
Enjoy live music while strolling between galleries at Alpine’s 25th annual Artwalk. Weekend festivities include Saturday’s Art Car Parade and Hot Rod “Show & Shine,” an art silent auction, handmade art market, face painting, and food booths. Alpine, Texas, 432.837.3067, artwalkalpine.com
The Great American West Art Show
Offering the finest in wildlife art, sporting art, and art of the American West, this year’s show features new paintings and sculptures by more than 40 artists, such as Robert Griffing, Bruce Lawes, Scott Tallman Powers, Don Oelze, and Charles Fritz. Settlers West Galleries, Tucson, Arizona, 520.299.2607, settlerswest.com
November 30 – December 2
Fall Tempe Festival of the Arts
More than 350 juried artists working in many mediums — ceramics, jewelry, leather, fiber, painting — celebrate the 50th anniversary of this urban fine-art festival. Live music and entertainment, an interactive kids’ area, and a spirits tasting offer something for everyone. Downtown Tempe, Arizona, 480.355.6060, tempefestivalofthearts.com
November 30 – December 2
Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival
The country’s oldest and largest art market dedicated to showcasing art created from discarded materials turns 20 this year. Here, more than 90 innovative artists up-cycle trash into treasure, showing creative ways to save resources while making one-of-a-kind art. Community Convention Center, Santa Fe, 505.603.0558, recyclesantafe.org
December 1, 2018 – January 5, 2019
Contemporary Western Group Show
Featuring the works of Billy Schenck, S.C. Mummert, and Skylar Fein (see slideshow below), this first annual group exhibition showcases the 1950s attitude of the American West through provocative, iconic, and colorful pop art imagery. It kicks off with an opening reception on Saturday, December 1, which includes a personal appearance by Mummert. Felder Gallery, San Antonio, Texas, 361.944.0167, feldergallery.com