Hanging precariously and horizontally from red sandstone, fifty feet above the ground, may not seem like it would inspire the creation of beautiful oil paintings, but that is exactly what happened with Erin Hanson. After a lifetime of experimenting in different styles and mediums, it wasn’t until Hanson moved to the outskirts of Las Vegas to climb at Red Rock Canyon that her painting style was consolidated by a single inspiration and force of nature.
Erin Hanson began painting as a young girl, greedily learning oils, acrylics, watercolor, pastels, pen and ink and life drawing from her school’s art instructor. At age ten, she was charging customers for portraits of their dogs and even painted an album cover on commission. By the time she was twelve, she was working at a mural studio, learning the techniques of acrylics on the grand scale of 40-foot canvases. A high school scholarship took her to Otis College of Art, where she studied figure drawing.
While an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, Hanson took pause from art to get a degree in Bioengineering. While studying microbiology and multi-variable calculus, Hanson still found time to paint, emulating graphic novel artwork and Japanese brush painting. Her final inspiration to become a full-time professional artist, however, came with a fortuitous move to Las Vegas.
Living in Las Vegas and rock climbing at Red Rock Canyon provided plenty of inspiration for paintings. Standing among the brilliantly colored cliffs, seeing landscapes from vantage points only achieved by the most adventurous, and watching the seasons and the light change daily across the desert, would have provided inspiration for a thousand paintings. In this beautiful surrounding, Hanson decided to create one painting every week, rain or shine. She has stuck to that decision ever since, for eight years now, even through several relocations and other life changing events. As her skill and confidence grew, she eventually developed the style of painting that she had always admired as a young child: using as few brush strokes as possible to create fresh, alive paintings of magnificent and dramatic landscapes. Her unique, minimalist method of placing impasto paint strokes without layering has been dubbed “Open-Impressionism.”
Through the years, Hanson has continued to use the outdoors to inspire a huge collection of work. She visits the Colorado plateau every year, backpacking and hiking through areas such as Zion National Park, Canyonlands, and the Grand Canyon. Her other favorite places to paint include Paso Robles, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Anza-Borrego desert.
Erin Hanson transforms these landscapes into an abstract mosaic of color and texture, her impasto application of paint lending a sculptural effect to her art. Her oil paintings stand out in a crowd, bringing a fresh new look to Western landscapes. Avid collectors span the globe, and Hanson shows her work in top-rated art festivals, galleries and museums across the United States, and at The Erin Hanson Gallery, located in San Diego.