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Hannah shares her journey through art, life and the realest Texas art scene there is: Htown. (I am biased, but it’s also true. I’m kidding…no I’m not.)
Please tell us a little about yourself and your artistic background. Where are you from? Where are you now?
Currently, the roles I strive for are artist, teacher, and lover. I grew up in what was once a small town, Tomball, Texas. A great deal of who I eventually become is due to the fact that my hardworking mom, who juggled both schooling and working while raising me, opened the door for my grandparents to influence my malleable mind. Having the immediate influence of two sets of parents could be too much for some, but this allowed me to have the opportunity to learn from four powerful individuals—I can’t thank my mom, dad, and grandparents enough. I now live in the Heights/Montrose area. While attending school for art and psychology at Sam Houston State University, I mentored students for their art program and found a new passion working with individuals and the community. Quickly after graduating, I moved to the city and found myself slowly getting involved in the arts community. One of my first projects was Sketchbook Saloon, a life drawing lab open to the public that offered a twist to the classical life drawing settings with an artsy and burlesque touch. Eventually, I evolved into teaching full time while continuing with other opportunities I enjoyed. Along with various individuals, I’ve had the chance to produce events I’m proud of, such as: Dream Machine with artists Dom Bam and Black Cassidy, and the Houston Music and Arts Hall of Fame, which both have further pushed my creative momentum that I thought I’d never achieve.
What are your favorite art supplies? Are there any that intimidate you?
My vice is definitely oil paints—specifically the Holbein, Grumbacher, and Williamsburg brands. Working with a vast amount of colors is something I enjoy, so I’m frequently picking up new tubes of colors while stocking up on my go-to tools for painting: Ruby Satin paint brushes, silicoil brush cleaning tanks, linseed oil, Liquin, and various fat over lean mediums. The digital age of art is beautiful and fascinating to me, but I’m highly intimidated by the technological mediums such as drawing pads and apple pens.
What’s your work-space like? Do you have set aside space, or are you comfy creating anywhere?
Although it would be nice to paint at a local coffee shop, oil paints are too messy and the fumes can be kind of toxic. I’m lucky to have a fairly large bedroom that I’ve been able to convert 2/3’s of into my studio space that allows enough space and lighting for my creative needs.
Was there anything before art for you? Have you always felt destined to be an artist?
Growing up, I danced, sang, and read as many books as I could. It wasn’t until high school that I became infatuated with art and began sketching on my own. I never took a formal class because I was intimidated by my peers as a performance artist stepping into a visual realm. I followed artists such as Michael Hussar, Francis Bacon, and Charmaine Olivia. While enrolled in college, I took a ton of art courses and although I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning, with the mentorship from my painting instructor, Michael Henderson, I was learning how to use oil and would spend all my extra time painting in the art department. I loved it, it just felt so damn good.
One time in college I cracked the window of the university’s painting studio before I left class. The next day, I jumped the wall and climbed through the window so I could work over the weekend. I did this a lot. I was caught by a teacher but he sort of just shrugged. I guess he saw my passion and didn’t really mind much.
Do you prefer to sketch and plan or create on a whim?
A little of both. Usually, I will do preliminary sketches in my gigantic A3 Moleskine sketchbook—get one, they’re awesome—but sometimes, I’ll be like, “this might be a good idea,” and I’ll paint it on the whim. There are many failures but some awesome successes that come with painting in that fashion. As a pretty bold individual, I don’t tend to hesitate, so if I think it’ll look nice, I’ll just do it.
You are one of the fastest artists I know; knocking out completed works in just a few days, it seems. This is amazing to me, as I have spent up to five years on one painting, seldom finding true happiness with the finished products. So, how do you do that? What tells you when it’s done?
Firstly, thank you! I haven’t always painted at the pace I do now and in fact used to be really slow—no, like . . . really slow. I went through a long period of dread where I barely picked up a paint brush. My motivating factor was moving into The Waughford, my home and project space for live performances and events. I got a seriously stellar art studio—the best I’ve ever had! There is so much creative energy at The Waughford that has sort of perpetuated me into this fast-paced rhythm of creative inspiration. Now people are asking me to do things for them all the time and I almost never say no. I LOVE juggling multiple projects, it feels amazing. I do sometimes drown myself in too many and have to knock a few things off my plate, but it’s rare and I really have to be sinking deep to get to that point. For example, I had to give up taking improv classes for the time being to focus on the abundance of projects I’m working on currently. I’ll find my way back into that arena when the dust settles.
You are waist-deep in the community, involved with events and commissions and collaborations all at once… What inspires you the most doing that, and how the hell do you keep up?
I genuinely love people—all kinds. I chose to study psychology in college because I’m just so fascinated by people and human behavior. Because of this interest, I’m incredibly analytical and curious of those around me and often question, “How do you think? Why do you do things like that? How does this make you feel? Why do you like him?” I get so interested that sometimes I will just STARE at people. Collaborating with others is just a tactile way to learn about others while simultaneously making something.
To keep up, I spent a little bit of money and bought this really great pastel pink planner made by FiloFax (A5). For some reason, it’s the only planner I’ve ever been able to keep up with. It’s always open and in my car, like a fashion accessory for my soul. I write everything in it. Also, I just like being busy as it’s a nice escape from the existential dread. I’d be lying if I didn’t give thanks to all the coffee, kombucha, and yerba mate that I drink for constant energy.
What was the biggest hardship you faced as an artist?
As a painter and creator, it is incredibly important to be mobile both physically and in transit. Last year I wrecked my car followed by fracturing my right shoulder in a bicycle accident two months later. My mobility as an artist was tested and I had to ride the bus with my arm wrapped in a sling and my ability to transfer art materials and to paint was put to a halt. It took about four months to get my life back together and my shoulder still aches from time to time but having my ability to create taken away for such an extended period has lit a fire under me and has motivated me to work harder.
Do you collect anything?
Books. I own about 300 books but I’ve read less than a third of them. What’s funny is, my dad collects books too and together we own about 1,000 books. Additionally, I also have a rock collection and a collection of animal skulls.
And lastly, what makes you happiest in life?
A collection of things such as all of the beautiful relationships in my life: family, platonic, romantic, creative, working, and the collaborations in music and art that narrate my life. Tuning into my senses, riding ASMR waves and enjoying the simple pleasures also adds so much value to my life even though it’s a constant struggle to stay sensationally awake. And Lastly, I wouldn’t be as happy if it weren’t for my dog, Sunny, and kitty, Mowgli, who are pretty damn great too.