Artist of the Month

June Artist of the Month: Jenny Hansell

What medium(s) do you use for your art?

Oil, Acrylic, Gouache and Watercolor

What is your background?

When I was a child in Detroit, my mother was in art school and often took me with her, so I grew up around artists and galleries. I always saw myself as an artist too - throughout high school and college I studied drawing and painting seriously. For various reasons, I left art behind, mostly, after college. I worked in arts-related nonprofits, I loved doing arts and crafts with my children, I took opportunities to do things like help paint sets for school plays, but stopped thinking of myself as an artist. I'm now the president of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, and many of my paintings are of BNRC reserves and trails.

How long have you been doing this type of art?

When I moved to Northampton in 2018 for the BNRC job, I learned about Figure Drawing Fridays - local artist and musician Shawn Gunderson's weekly group. I started drawing the models every week, and then added painting. In 2020, during the pandemic, I discovered that RISD had taken their adult education classes online, and I signed up for a plein air painting class. Since then barely a day has gone by that I haven't painted. My goal when I started was simple: keep painting as long as it gives me joy. Don't judge my own work, don't worry if it's good or bad. I don't need to make a living from my art, and I don't need to earn approval for my work from anyone.

What inspires you and how do you get started?

I'm inspired by light and air, by color and form. I love painting portraits and figures as much as landscapes. I'm also inspired by other artists: Sargent and Sorolla, Frankenthaler and Hartigan, Morisot and Eakins and Church... There are so many  interesting artists working today as well. I often set out a plan for myself, but I rarely follow it - I paint what I'm moved to paint in the moment. I take a small watercolor kit with me everytime I go for a walk, so I can stop and sketch whenever I want (as long as my dog isn't too impatient.) Sometimes I use those sketches as the basis for larger paintings that I do in my studio.

Is there anything else you would like people who view your art to know?

More of my work can be seen on Instagram at @therealjahansell. I wrote an essay about why I stopped painting, and how I started again, at:

https://yalealumnimagazine.com/articles/5254-perspective

Is any of your art for sale? What is the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Yes, the art is for sale - email is easiest jahansell@gmail.com.

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