Happy Birthday Helen Hanson
Today we wish happy birthday to printmaker Helen Hanson. Helen Hanson is a professional Printmaker who shows her work in galleries throughout Britain. She exhibited with Greenwich Printmakers for many years and was a founder member of South Bank Printmakers before moving to Deal. She is a member of the Society of Botanical Artists and in 2008 received the President’s Award.
Born in Scarborough, Hanson grew up on Merseyside, where her inspiring primary school teacher took her class to Ainsdale dunes to see Grass of Parnassus, Ploughman’s Spikenard and Bee Orchids. Helen was immediately captivated by their names and shapes and began painting. She developed a lasting interest in wild plants and their habitat.
Initially Helen followed the family tradition of studying Modern Languages and spent the first half of her career in teaching. However, she pursued her interest in art and botany through Adult Education and in 1977 began an etching course which changed the direction of her life. In 1985 she joined Greenwich Printmakers and exhibited with them nationally and internationally until her recent move to Deal. She has work in galleries throughout Britain and exhibits regularly with them.
The familiar northern landscapes of the Lake District and the Pennines provided the initial inspiration and focus for Helen’s ideas. Water and weather are recurrent themes, from these early Cumbrian images to the recent Kent seascapes. However, her chief inspiration is still the truly wild nature of the Scottish Highlands, despite the considerable distance from her new home.
Helen’s work reflects her enduring fascination with the detail and pattern of plants which she sets against the changing aspects of the landscape. Colours, moods and textures develop from one plate to the next, as she generally works on several images from her chosen locality. “I like to absorb as much as I can from each particular habitat then move on to something refreshingly different. With our varied ecology and increasing awareness of conservation I always have a long waiting list!”
Helen’s contemporary landscape etchings use pattern, texture and mood to give a sense of place and the local plantlife is always important. Her etchings are on copper and make use of a range of traditional and innovative processes. Each plate is inked individually in several colours and printed by the artist on hand-made paper in an edition of 50, 100 or 150. Individual plant colours are added later in watercolour.
Helen has recently been moving into mixed media painting, combining acrylics and watercolour with graphite, pastel pencil and ink. She works on paper and on board, building up lines, layers and textures and keeping to a restricted palette which best echoes the mood of the landscape.