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Steve Hanks - In the Artist´s Studio -  OPEN EDITION PRINT Published by the Greenwich Workshop

          In the Artist´s Studio
by Steve Hanks

Original Retail Price $95.00

Image Size: 12"w x 18"h.
Published: May 2015

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At its essence, Steve’s art is about the beauty in life: the innocent loveliness of infants and children, the bond between mother and baby, the physical beauty of the female form in light and shadow, in stillness and in dance. The composition of a Hanks painting serves the emotion he sets out to paint, whether it be a vertical or horizontal canvas, the mystery in a woman facing downward, or how the upward tilt of a chin exudes confidence, the freedom of a girl’s spiraling limbs on a beach, or a young woman’s steady gaze at the wide horizon ahead of her.

Hanks was a figurative painter and for the most part the landscapes and room interiors were used for context not substance, although he included quilts and rug and floor patterns for depth and texture. The deeper the emotional landscape of his subject that he wanted to express, the vaguer the location. The complete expression of the figure was his way of saying, “This is where you are in the world.”

That said, Aspen, Colorado was an often-painted family vacation favorite, as well as New Orleans and Charleston, whose wrought iron and architecture and heavy green vegetation appealed to the artist whose home studio was in high desert. Steve Hanks lived most of his life in landlocked Albuquerque but his heart was near water. Contemplative figures were sometimes painted near shimmering lakes and rivers but the Pacific Ocean is where both pure joy and the complications of relationships played out in his art.

In the fall of 2014, Hanks painted a rare self-portrait in his studio. It is uncharacteristically layered and complicated, befitting its subject. In the painting, there are reflections of reflections and he includes the tools of his trade and the studio artifacts that surround him. The life model, perched on the artist’s chair, studies her portrait on the easel. The tumbling quilt and her leg convey the tall verticality of the painting, yet the horizontal portrait and the framed art on the wall keep the eye focused on the center of the painting. The artist has stepped away from the easel and is framed in the circular mirror. What is he studying? The model, the painting, the life? In the mirror, above his head to the right, is the leading edge of a surfboard and below that, another mirror and within that, the reflection of the artist in the circular mirror and so on.

Steve Hanks’ In the Artist’s Studio is something special for his collectors and fans. Far more than a sneak peek into his workspace, it is a gem of a multi-layered autobiography.  (The framed art on the studio wall is mostly his own. The checkerboard floor is Berkeley Kitchen, an acrylic from 1973. Did Steve find the image of John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott inspirational, or was there a personal connection he found to the character in the Tennyson’s poem that inspired the painting? A quick look into the story might reveal a whole other level in Hanks’ portrait to you.

If you are a fan of Steve Hanks, this work of art is something special to remember him by. More importantly, you can help the family offset the medical bills from his cancer treatment by purchasing either the paper or canvas version of The Artist’s Studio directly from their website or contribute via their GoFundMe page.  

Steve Hanks
Although teachers often cited his artistic ability, Steve Hanks’ main interest while growing up around San Francisco was sports. As a young teenager, Hanks pursued surfing and tennis with passion. He eventually tired of a steady diet of competitive tennis, but continued to surf, finding a spiritual connection with the ocean. “Surfing had a strong influence on my paintings,” he says. “The ocean often appears in my work, because I have such strong feelings for it.” Although it was apparent early on that he had talent, Hanks refused to do the required assignments in his high school art class and earned a grade of C in the class. “To prove I was good, I did a one-man show at the high school and sold my first painting to another art teacher,” he says. After high school Hanks enrolled in summer session commercial art courses at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. “The only way I could convince my parents to let me go was to say I was going into commercial art,” he says. “I didn’t even know what that was!” He did well in his commercial art classes, but it was a life drawing class that captured his interest. He focused his energy on the study of anatomy and figure drawing and transferred into the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. He graduated in the 1960s with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and then moved back to New Mexico in search of a home art gallery. Initially, he drew in pencil and painted in oils. His paintings were impressionistic while his drawings were more realistic. Eventually, an allergic reaction to oils forced him to experiment with watercolors. Using the techniques learned from other mediums, he found he could create watercolors as “finished” as oils. Deeply affected by the emotions, shifting attitudes and music of the 1960s, the music of 60s icon Bob Dylan often accompanies Hanks as he paints in his studio today. Steve Hanks’ paintings are much more than endearing images of women and children. Rather than conveying a specific message through his paintings, Hanks prefers to explore memories and emotions. “All art is an escape to somewhere you want to be or a feeling you want to have," Hanks says. "People see different things in my paintings because we all have different backgrounds and feelings.” Hanks highly collected nudes convey an introspective solitude that prompts the viewer to think about his or her own life and path. “Women occupy a special niche in my sensitivity. They express more storytelling ability. There’s more magic in them,” he says. Art jurors began recognizing the quality of his work in 1973. Steve Hanks won the Arts for the Parks Marine Art Award of Excellence in 1990 and 1994, and has been one of the Arts for the Parks top 100 artists since 1989. In 1991, Steve Hanks received the National Watercolor Society Merit Award and the National Academy of Western Art awarded him the Gold Medal in 1992. Since 1993, he has been one of U.S. Art Magazine's top ten American artists. When the Pacific Rim show in Seattle, WA decided to open the show up to a wider variety of art in 1999, they selected Steve as Artist of the Year. Steve was one of five winners selected to the U.S. Art Hall of Fame 2000. He was named as one of the top 25 selling artists in the June, 2002 issue of Decor magazine. The 7th Annual Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children chose Steve as their Feature Artist in 2002.


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