Open Impressionism

Hi everyone! What I love about my position on this blog is being able to find and share all different artists and techniques with you. Recently, I found an artist at the forefront of a contemporary style called “Open Impressionism”. Erin Hanson depicts various forms of nature in bright colors and in broad, expressive paint strokes. While she is inspired by impressionists of the past, Hanson paints in a way that is entirely her own.

Instead of focusing on light and forms, Hanson pays careful mind to the use of color to capture the emotions of the outdoors. In this way, Open Impressionism feels like a combination of Impressionism and Fauvism. It maintains the importance of capturing a moment in time and focuses on the raw emotions felt. Hansen begins by pre-mixing a limited palette of vibrant colors. She paints without layering, and tries to “get it right the first time,” not going over the same spot twice. This leaves the paint strokes with raw edges that creates amazing texture. The underpainting is allowed to shine through, creating a mosaic-like landscape that is exciting to the eye.

Hanson has stated that her hope is to have people see the world differently – its more beautiful than many give it credit for. She talks of finding various colors in a landscape, which is how I often view the world. I find myself sitting in the library looking outside at the leaves and discovering pinks in light brown branches and orange in bright green leaves. Where many will only see one color, I look for all of them. I think this is what Hanson is promoting. Seeing the world from an artist’s mind is a truly amazing experience, especially seeing Hanson’s work. Each painting has a sense of emotion, whether it’s tranquility or excitement. They place you within the scene, the paint strokes and colors pulling you in to fully experience the landscape.

I think I’m so drawn to these pieces because I feel as though they bring Van Gogh and Matisse together. The use of color purely to express rather than represent is such an interesting concept to me, and I never really got it until last semester in my Painting I class. My professor continuously urged me to explore color, but I didn’t understand for a while until it all hit me at once. Suddenly I was finding a rainbow of colors in a white hallway with brown floor tiles. Hanson’s work is meant to express the world at its core and capture all of the emotions it can elicit. Open Impressionism is now being taught in schools, and I think that is wonderful. I think we often view contemporary art as “anything goes”, thanks to movements like Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism – among others – that broke the rules for us to be able to make art for ourselves. This, however, means it can be daunting trying to make your mark. To a young artist, it can feel like everything innovative and great has already been done, but I know that there is so much more to come for the art world. Hanson’s story and her work over the past 20 years to pioneer Open Impressionism proves to me that, once you find your style and yourself along the way, you can quite literally change the world.

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