Shan Bryan-Hanson


Two Paintings in Studio Visit Magazine

Shan Bryan-Hanson
Studio Visit Magazine, Volume 26

Studio Visit Magazine, Volume 26

It's a pleasure to have two paintings featured in the most recent edition of Studio Visit magazine, published by Open Studios Press.  This edition was juried by Trevor Richardson, curator of the Herter Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Two Exhibits

Shan Bryan-Hanson
Cherry Blossoms Oil on panel, 18" x 18" 2013  

Cherry Blossoms

Oil on panel, 18" x 18"



This painting, inspired by a cherry tree in my backyard, was painted this spring and will be on display in two upcoming exhibitions.

The first, the 2013 Collection Invitational, opens this Friday night, 5:30- 7:00 p.m. at The Hardy Gallery in Ephraim, WI.  The exhibit runs from July 20 -August 25.

Several weeks after that show closes, the painting will be exhibited in the 69th Art Annual Juried Exhibition at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, WI.  The Art Annual is on exhibit from September 14, 2013 - January 5, 2014.  

Since this painting represents a return to abstraction in my art I'm happy to have it included in these two exhibitions.  Hope you can make it to one or both of the shows. 


National Juried Art Exhibition, Cooperstown Art Association

Shan Bryan-Hanson
Sky Series, 1 Oil on panel, 18" x 54"

Sky Series, 1

Oil on panel, 18" x 54"

I just received news that Sky Series, 1 was accepted into the 78th Annual National Juried Art Exhibition of the Cooperstown Arts Association, Cooperstown, NY.   It was a pleasure to exhibit in this National several years ago and I'm looking forward to doing so again.  The exhibit opens with a Preview Party on July 12th, 5-7 p.m.   Artist, John Magnan, who juried the exhibit, will provide a Gallery Talk and Tour at 4 p.m., prior to the reception.  

My daily commute is long and I am constantly amazed by illusive and ever-changing views of the sky.  The clouds in the center panel of this painting were inspired by one of these views.  I had no camera with me so I pulled over and made a quick sketch of the of the clouds which I later referenced in the studio.  

A Few Seconds...

Shan Bryan-Hanson
The Zen master (Thich Nhat Hahn) ... offers advice about how to appreciate his works. “The best way to look at the exhibition is to breathe in mindfully. You need only a few seconds to be fully present in the here and now. In understanding, there are seeds of joy, seeds of insight and seeds of enlightenment. He suggests walking slowly around the exhibition. “Half an hour spent in the exhibition hall is half an hour of meditation. You can come out of the hall as new person.
— The Art of Zen, The Nation, Thailand, April 7, 2013, an article about, "Calligraphic Meditation: The Mindful Art of Thich Nhat Hanh" at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre.

This is such beautiful way to view a visit to an art museum or gallery.  There is no need to enter with prior knowledge about the art or the artist.  One can simply "breathe in mindfully."  In our very busy, fast-paced world this seems like a perfect role for art.  This is my goal when I paint, to shut down the busy mind, which sometimes feels like chasing the wind.  Every once in a while, though, there are those precious moments of stillness, when time is lost and process takes over. Thich Naht Hahn's statement suggests this opportunity exists in both art-making and art viewing; a shared space of quiet in a very loud world. 

Stand on Your Head (and other ways to evaluate a painting)

Shan Bryan-Hanson

1.  Turn the work upside down (or stand on your head if you are so inclined).  If the composition is dynamic and engaging upside down then it probably works right side up as well.

2.  Snap a photo.  Sometimes it’s easier to spot problem areas in a work of art when we look at a photo of it.  I’m not sure exactly why this works, possibly because it provides a change of perspective and a bit of room for emotional detachment.

3.   Squint.  This is often referred as “squinting down the values,”  and is used in the painting process to sort out and simplify values when working on an observation- based painting.  We squint at the subject of the work, such as a still life or model.  Squinting at a the canvas simplifies our view of the value structure, allowing us to see what is and is not working in the composition.  

I'd love to know what tools you use to evaluate art--gut reaction, personal connection to the subject matter, color scheme...?  

Happy art viewing!  

Art of Practice

Shan Bryan-Hanson
yoga book.jpg

This book arrived in the mail yesterday.  I must admit, the gorgeous typography and cover design drove my decision to buy.   It's simply a beautiful object; color scheme, photography, typography and paper quality are all thoughtfully considered and executed.  The exquisite yoga sequences inside are icing on the cake.  

For me, yoga and painting have three important things in common:

1.  Yoga and art are practice.  

2.  Yoga and art demand presence. 

3.  Yoga and art are forms of creative expression.  

What are you compelled to practice?  Where do you find presence?  Opportunities for expression?  


Shan Bryan-Hanson
On the Last Day paintings, museum installation photo

On the Last Day paintings, museum installation photo

Pull up a lovely, old tree stump and sit a spell.  Reflect on the power and beauty of trees, life givers to us all.  We all have our favorites; the great oak on a grandparent's farm, the impossibly huge redwood seen on vacation, the sapling in our own backyard.  

Notice. Notice. Notice.  And love.

On the Last Day Series

Shan Bryan-Hanson
On the Last Day, 1 Oil on panel, 72" x 18"

On the Last Day, 1

Oil on panel, 72" x 18"

These is the first painting completed in my newest series of work, On the Last Day.

The poem, “Place,” by W.S. Merwin, is the inspiration for the On the Last Day Series of paintings.  I love that the sense of hope in Merwin’s poem is in the inherent value he places the tree itself, not as a means of service to humanity but simply because it is.  The tree simply is and the planter simply does.

The paintings in this series are 72” tall and 18” wide, painted at human scale so the viewer physically relates to them.  The images of tree slices are used as metaphors for internal worlds and expanding consciousness. 

This Land is Your Land

Shan Bryan-Hanson
Eon, Oil on panels, stones, 2012
Eon, Oil on panels, stones, 2012

This piece is current on exhibition in This Land is Your Land at the Miller Art Museum in Sturgeon Bay, WI.  This is artist statement for the piece: 

This piece is inspired by the lakeside view at the Kangaroo Lake Nature Preserve.  The painting itself is an impression of a moment, rather then an exact replica of place, painted in the studio from gestural sketches and imperfect memory.  While descending down the cuesta, to the point on the lake from which this view is taken, I experienced a sense of deep time, both geologic time and the notion of being “lost in the moment.”  The stones are used to represent deep time, as both physical representations of the history of the Niagra Escarpment and as simple objects of meditation and reflection. 

The stones were taken, with permission, from another area in Door County, also part of the Niagra Escarpment.   While wiping my shoes on the boot cleaner near the entrance of the Kangaroo Lake property, placed there to hinder the proliferation of invasive weeds, I could see remnants of the past in the form of a crumbling stone building foundation.  This served as a reminder that the migration of objects is inevitable, whether attributed to ancient ice or human hands, and is part of the social and geographic history, and future, of place.   


Light, PatternShan Bryan-Hanson

Seeds and pods have always ambled in and out of my art, coming and going in one form or another every few years and currently in the form of The Milkweed Project.  It is the moment in the life cycle when the plant is dying and seeds are forming that is very interesting to me; it is simultaneously both a beginning and an ending.

Still Life

Painting, Studio PracticeShan Bryan-Hanson

This is a photo of a still life in progress, a very simple still life of a tiny tea cup my daughter received as a favor at a birthday party.  I like the phrase still life; life standing still, time slowing down.  It makes me think of any Vermeer painting.  His figurative works, not technically still life at all, convey a sense of life stilled.   Light is soft yet sharp and details come into extreme focus. Time slips away and we really see the girl with the pearl earring or the woman holding a balance.  Life stills for one very lovely, quiet moment.

Light Change

LightShan Bryan-Hanson

I'm making a small change on this site and turning this page into a blog for occasional postings about things happening both in and out of the studio.  I'm currently sitting by my daughter, who is home sick today, and hoping she feels better soon. 

This photo captures what I feel about winter light.  It comes in slivers between large chunks of darkness, bright and beautiful.