Right brain meets left brain at Breckenridge gallery
Ryan Summerlin March 1, 2013
She wasn’t always so right-brained. Local oil painter Joanne Hanson, who is from New Zealand, spent nearly 20 years of her life selling real estate in Summit County before her sister handed her a paintbrush seven or eight years ago.
“My sister Adele was teaching a painting workshop at the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson,” Hanson said. “She asked me if I would like to go with her to be her ‘helper.’ As it was warm there and mud season here, I quickly agreed. I had never painted before, but she had always told me I should try it. At the workshop, she put a brush in my hand and told me to go for it. I did. I loved it, and have painted ever since.”
Hanson’s sister is Adele Earnshaw, the accomplished wildlife painter represented by galleries across the United States, who worked as an artist in residence at the Tin Shop two summers ago, and recently moved back to New Zealand. Hanson credits her sister as being her first, and one of her best, teachers, along with instructor Kate Kiesler at Colorado Mountain College, who she said has had a big influence on her work. She finds time to paint – and spend time in the outdoors capturing images for future paintings – now that her daughter and her husband are running her former office at Coldwell Banker in Frisco.
“I spent most of my life being very left-brained,” Hanson said, admitting that she’s a bit more analytical and structured than most artists. “It has been a good exercise for me to be more creative, even though I often find myself analyzing how to do it. That is probably why I paint more realistically, rather than being abstract. My goal is to represent what I see, but not necessarily to make it photographic. I prefer to interpret the scene in front of me, and looser is better than tighter.”
She paints in oils, primarily landscapes.
“I love Colorado landscapes and started with them because they were out my back door and easy to get to,” she said. “I continue to paint them because I really enjoy the colors I see in the mountains, trees, willows and bushes. It is much more than just green trees, blue skies and snowy mountains.”
She enjoys the challenge of seeing and painting the reflective quality of water, and has recently branched into figurative work including fly fishermen, children, anonymous people, dogs and cats.
“I still love landscapes though,” she asserts. Many are captured “en plein air” – in other words, on location or outside – from May to October. But when it’s cold outside, she renders photographs in paint. Rather than using printed photographs, she prefers to view them on a computer monitor.
“The monitor gives me the correct colors as if I were there in person, year-round,” she said.
The Breckenridge Music Festival (BMF) selected Hanson’s painting, “Summer Symphony,” for the 2013 “Bach, Beethoven and Breckenridge” poster, which can be purchased at Buffalo Mountain Gallery in Frisco and Hang Time in Breckenridge. She also did the art for the BMF’s 2010 poster. “They are a fun group to work with and it benefits a great cause,” said Hanson.
In 2012, she received an Honorable Mention at the Women Artists of the West show at RS Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas.
In Summit County, she coordinates artists for the Continental Divide Land Trust’s “Wild About Colorado” plein air event, which will take place Aug. 14-17 this year. “It is another fundraising event with a great cause – protecting local landscapes forever,” Hanson said.
Hanson’s work can be viewed this month at Arts Alive Gallery, a co-op run by the nonprofit Summit County Arts Council, for which she serves as a board member.
“Profits made from the gallery are used to open doors to art and art appreciation within the community,” Hanson said. “Lately, some of our members have been doing art classes at the Snowy Peaks high school, a local, alternative high school with no art program and little funding for it.” The group put on a “Meet the Artists” outdoor art show in Breckenridge in June and will do one in Frisco in September as part of Fallfest and Fall for the Arts.
Hanson will be on hand at the gallery to speak about her work at an artist’s reception from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, during Breck’s Second Saturday ArtWalk. Her paintings are also available at the Cornflower Boutique and Gallery in Frisco, River’s Edge Gallery in Alma, Framed Image in Denver and the Blue Goose Gallery in Chester, Calif.