Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Helen N. Hanson's Studio

What kind of arts/crafts do you do?
I make paper collages inspired by the inner journey and quest for enlightenment and expression. I use all non toxic materials because I am an artist living with a form of vasculitis known as Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener's). I have chosen to use the limitations brought on by the disease, including extreme chemical sensitivities, as a reason to dedicate myself to making artwork. For me, it is a way to be still and learn to see with the eyes of truth.

Where do you do your art/crafts?
My studio is a safe zone where I can control the materials I bring in and how they get used to avoid triggering reactions in my immune system. On the other hand, the studio is a universe of exploration, which is never completely safe, always risky in some way. I am fortunate to have dedicated space to work in my Montana home, where I live with my husband and two children. We garden and keep horses on the property, which people tend to agree has the look and feel of a mountain resort. I enjoy having guests, but privacy and quiet is more conducive to art making. It’s all about balance.

How do you keep all your supplies organised?
Papers are grouped by texture and size. Natural materials (e.g., bones, nests) are on display for inspiration. Inks and pigment pearlescent powders are arranged by colour  Gel Mediums and Acrylic paints are kept in a certain part of the studio.

How do you keep yourself motivated to keep your space tidy?
My disease limits my energy on a daily basis. I am naturally motivated to keep things simple, so I can find what I need, when I need it.

Any tips for how to keep art spaces tidy or organised?
Make set-up and clean-up into rituals that feed into your creativity. Setting up can be an incantation of sorts, inviting creative spirit into the space, cleaning up can be a prayer of thanks. An artist can maintain a spiritual connection to his/her tools by treating them respectfully and with dignity.

Do you get stressed out when your space gets in a mess?
I cannot afford to become overwhelmed. For me, allowing a mess in the studio is self-defeating. Human energy is finite, precious, and not something to waste.

If you could have your dream space tomorrow what would it look like?
Every day I hope to wake up and have the energy to do what I want to do in the studio. When I look out over the Montana mountains and see the beautiful light pouring in, I feel content. My dream would be to be able to blink my eyes and be in the heart of a vibrant urban area, then be transported back here in an instant, to peace.

Is there any craft you would love to do but can’t due to limitations of your art space?
I must keep the studio well-ventilated due to the very real danger of dust in my lungs. I would love to have a high-power air purifier which would keep that danger in check, so I could focus in a more relaxed way on my art making.

What is the next big thing on your wish list for your art space?
A maid! LOL, seriously, anything that will help keep down dust and remove particles from the air.

Is there a website for people to see or buy or art/crafts?
I invite people to view and purchase the collages on display in my Etsy shop.

I also make and sell speciality papers for other artists to use in their work, and have a few one-of-a-kind handbags for sale. 

Finally, I have written a book on gifts humans receive from animals, Meditations with the Animal Kingdom, that is available for downloading to Kindle-compatible devices at:

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