Meeting with Hannah Lane, a Nashville-based mixed media artist, is like catching up with an old friend. From the minute she opens the door to her home studio, Hannah exudes genuine Southern charm as any good Louisiana native-turned-Nashvillian would.
As a formally trained and practiced artist, Hannah uniquely layers pieces of hand-dyed paper with pastels and paint to create small- and large-scale paintings. The combination of these elements and bursts of color leads the eye on a journey to something unique each time you look at a piece of her art. Whether the subject is the Louisiana marsh, a cluster of artichokes, a large crowd or an abstract, Hannah’s vibrant color palette remains the constant the unifies all of her work.
Hannah is not afraid to challenge herself to do what is hard or scary, and she pushes herself to “play” with new arrangements, which have led to both the trashcan and successful works of art. While Hannah is inspired by the things around her, her creative drive comes from within. She is diligent at capturing images that speak to her, whether it be on a walk through Radnor Lake natural area just south of Nashville or a vase of wilting tulips. Hannah sees the beauty in these images and combines her memories with photographs of her experiences to inspire what she puts on paper.
Hannah’s focus on collaboration versus competition has enabled her to build unique relationships with other Southern artists, and she will also be one of the inaugural members of the new Nashville Artist Collective, which launches this fall. Hannah has an innate gift of channeling what is meaningful to her and translating it into beautiful works of art, leaving a mark on the world through the paintings she creates. We are excited to introduce you to Hannah Lane.
How did you get started as an artist?
I’ve loved to draw since I was a small child, and my parents and elementary art teachers nurtured and encouraged my creativity. I excelled in my high school art program and then earned my BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
I also have experience as an illustrator and graphic designer and worked for many years as a freelance illustrator. It was work I loved, but I felt slightly stifled working for other people and wanted to try to make a living as a professional artist. It wasn’t an easy decision to go out on my own, and I’ve done a lot through the years to piece things together. But it’s a decision I am so proud of and continually humbled by the fact that I get to create for a living.
What medium do you use?
I use acrylic paint, pigmented and patterned papers, pastels and also watercolors. Mixing these elements together has become one of my favorite things to do over the past couple years because it’s less straight forward than just painting. There is some mystery in the materials and how they come together. Now I am pigmenting some of the transparent papers myself, and the process is just as gratifying as the finished piece.
You have a range of subject matters. What is your favorite thing to paint?
I don’t have one favorite subject to paint. As you can tell from my Instagram feed, I explore new subjects a lot, and that keeps things fresh. My unifying factor is always color and style. I am influenced by the seasons and of course my surroundings. I typically paint things in a series of three to five at a time. It gives me a chance to explore something new without overcommitting. I can then choose to keep going or veer off in a different direction.
Your Crowd Series is so unique. Where did that originate from?
The Crowd Series started organically when I lived in Louisiana. It was a shape and form I kept repeating almost in a pattern. I come from a large southern family with a lot of cousins & friends who are “family” to me. This series represents growing up in the south, celebrations, gatherings, arms open and open doors. Open mentality. It’s just pure love!
What do you like about working on the mini canvases, and how does that translate to your bigger work?
Small pieces are fun and more accessible to the new collector who is just starting out. They are quick explorations and studies that often inform my larger works. Plus they, are great for grouping with other works of art, gallery style.
Where do you like to paint?
I paint in my home studio, which is bright with lots of natural light. Working from home is new for me. I had a vision for this space, and it has come together with clean, white walls. It’s my place to be creative and free. It’s a sacred space that I protect.
What is your creative process?
I like to set intentions before I begin, light a candle or burn some incense, find the right music for my mood. I try to honor my creative flow and inspiration. Often times, I am in the studio on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
I allow myself to play and experiment without expectation. When I can channel a memory or a collection of experiences that are really meaningful, my work comes from a pure and special place. I can feel the energy leaving me and pouring onto the canvas. It’s my way of leaving a little something important to me with the world.
What happens when the creativity is not flowing? How do you get back in the groove?
I really try to honor my creative windows and not force anything. I am more productive when I “feel it,” so forcing it is counterproductive for me. So, if it’s not flowing, I do administrative work on those days or take a field trip to local parks like Radnor Lake or Cheekwood, or I walk the greenway near my house, or meet a friend for coffee. Those are the things that refuel my tank. Sometimes completely non-art-related activities like reading a book or going to a yoga class gets my creative energy flowing.
What inspires you?
Nature, travel, and places … experiences that I want to capture the emotion or feeling of inspire me. I like to paint what is around me and what is influencing me. When I was in Louisiana, I painted a lot of marshes. My artichokes are inspired from my time living in Italy. Each of my series has an authentic origin. I take a lot of pictures and sometimes collage them together in Photoshop as a reference of a feeling or experience.
Creating the work is not the only thing an artist does. How do you balance creating with the aspects of being an entrepreneur and the responsibilities that go along with that (marketing, sales, accounting, etc.)?
I have become extremely organized over the past 10 years of being a professional artist. I set a week-to-week schedule for all aspects of the business, including marketing, social media, accounting, relationship management, etc. I use spreadsheets to track goals and hold myself accountable. Most people would be surprised to know how organized and business-minded I am.
I also try to do one “scary” thing a week, like apply to a popular art show, reach out to a contact and take a field trip to connect with other creatives. For me and my process, it’s important to take risks and put yourself out there.
What advice would you give to an emerging artist?
I have not perfected these things. In fact, they are the most challenging aspects of being a professional artist, but I keep at it, every day. Showing up and doing the work consistently has provided structure and clarity throughout my career.
1. Honor your “creative windows,” hone in on the ebbs and flows of inspiration. 2. Know when to refill the tank. 3. Find and trust your authentic voice. 4. Know when to walk away from an “opportunity.” 5. Nurture business relationships just like you would friendships and family relationships. 6. Hold yourself accountable and show up to do the work. 7. Push beyond your comfortable boundaries and take calculated risks.
Where can we find your work?
My art is available through my website and on Instagram. My work can also be found in Bennett Galleries in Nashville; Lagniappe Interiors in Mississippi; SALADINO Gallery, Acadian Frame and Art, and Barnel’s in Lousiana, and Bee Street Studio in Texas. I also participate in three to four shows every year, where I look forward to meeting my collectors in person.
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