Studio Visit: Ellen R. Hanson

Ellen is an artist living and working in Chicago.  Her work can be seen in PLEAT's April 2017 exhibition as well as ellenrhanson.com. 

Please describe your work.
I paint post-romantic, abstracted landscapes and interiors. I’m interested in the tensions between inside/outside, personal/private, natural and artificial. As the title of this show reflects, plants become surrogates for human emotions in my paintings. They are the figures taking in their surroundings. 

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices? 
A lot of my imagery comes from what I see in Chicago. I live in a fascinating city sprawl that has an extremely rich architectural past. On the other hand, we’re right on Lake Michigan which is one of the largest fresh water bodies in the world. This combination of metropolitan and sublime fascinates me. Windows are another important motif for me.  They give us glimpses into lives that are happening right beside ours. The window, similarly to a painting, frames our viewpoint and removes us from what we are seeing. 

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
David Hockney has taught me about the importance of colors within shadows.  Kerry James Marshall has taught me about connecting the history of painting to contemporary culture.
Becky Suss has taught me how to use scale and repetition to represent objects and show their sentimental value.  I frequently look back at romantic landscape painters  (Turner, Friedrich, Bierstadt) for color and depictions of tumultuous sky and water. 

How has digital technology affected your artistic practice?
Instagram has been an important tool for sharing my work. It keeps people up to date with what I’m working on and lets them in on my studio practice. Through Instagram I’ve also been able to connect with other young artists and curators that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.