Thursday, November 12, 2009


Steve Hanks is recognized as one of the best watercolor artists working today. The detail, color and realism of Steve Hanks' paintings are unheard of in this difficult medium. A softly worn patterned quilt, the play of light on the thin veil of surf on sand, or the delicate expression of a child—-Steve Hanks captures these patterns of life better than anyone.
Steve Hanks was born into a military family in San Diego in 1949. His father was a highly decorated WWII Navy flyer. Hanks grew up playing tennis and surfing along the beaches of Southern California. “The ocean made a strong and lasting impression on me. It was good for the soul to be out in the water—surfing, swimming, or simply getting in touch with its mysterious power.” (Artifacts Gallery)

Where Light Shines Brightest
All images from Artifacts Gallery

From Gallery One

From Artifacts Gallery


Steve Hanks' art gently explores quiet corners in our everyday life. What are the secret thoughts of these tenderly rendered subjects? What are their dreams? Adult or youngster, each is a special world unto itself. Each a pensive moment, a fraction of a lifetime, briefly and beautifully preserved. Steve spent his childhood on the coast of California. His inspiration to paint developed in his late teens, after his family moved from Ventura County to New Mexico. Away from the ocean and friends, Steve found comfort in drawing and painting.
Today, Steve Hanks continues to paint numerous, beautiful works that reflect a mastery of form and an intricate involvement with light. "I like to consider those times when we make life's major decisions, "the artist reflects," when we are alone with our thoughts, when we both confront and challenge ourselves. Everyone, I'm sure, experiences these moments. That's why the people I portray are so often in solitary reflective moods." (Haystack Gallery)
After graduating from high school, Hanks entered the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960's. Later, he attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco, and graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. In 1973, Hanks began publishing a few of his originals as stone lithographs, posters, and limited edition prints.
Highly detailed and realistic, his watercolors urge the viewer to become part of the creative process. Mr. Hanks is passionate about life, passionate about art. "I try to capture a certain introspective solitude in my figure," he comments, "and deal with a vulnerability that all of us, sometime, feel." More than 170 of his paintings are included in his book, Poised Between Heartbeats, which has won accolades from his critics and collectors. Hanks currently resided in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and three children. (

Musical Appreciation
(The Greenwich Workshop®)

Taking their Time
(The Greenwich Workshop®)

Getting Her Feet Wet
(The Greenwich Workshop®)

“The only way I could convince my parents to let me go was to say I was going into commercial art,” he says. “I didn’t even know what that was!” He did well in his commercial art classes, but it was a life drawing class that captured his interest. He focused his energy on the study of anatomy and figure drawing and transferred into the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. He graduated in the 1960s with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and then moved back to New Mexico in search of a home art gallery. Initially, he drew in pencil and painted in oils. His paintings were impressionistic while his drawings were more realistic. Eventually, an allergic reaction to oils forced him to experiment with watercolors. Using the techniques learned from other mediums, he found he could create watercolors as “finished” as oils. Deeply affected by the emotions, shifting attitudes and music of the 1960s, the music of 60s icon Bob Dylan often accompanies Hanks as he paints in his studio today. Steve Hanks’ paintings are much more than endearing images of women and children. Rather than conveying a specific message through his paintings, Hanks prefers to explore memories and emotions. “All art is an escape to somewhere you want to be or a feeling you want to have," Hanks says. "People see different things in my paintings because we all have different backgrounds and feelings.” Hanks highly collected nudes convey an introspective solitude that prompts the viewer to think about his or her own life and path. “Women occupy a special niche in my sensitivity. They express more storytelling ability. There’s more magic in them,” he says. Art jurors began recognizing the quality of his work in 1973. Steve Hanks won the Arts for the Parks Marine Art Award of Excellence in 1990 and 1994, and has been one of the Arts for the Parks top 100 artists since 1989. In 1991, Steve Hanks received the National Watercolor Society Merit Award and the National Academy of Western Art awarded him the Gold Medal in 1992. Since 1993, he has been one of U.S. Art Magazine's top ten American artists. When the Pacific Rim show in Seattle, WA decided to open the show up to a wider variety of art in 1999, they selected Steve as Artist of the Year. Steve wasone of five winners selected to the U.S. Art Hall of Fame 2000. He was named as one of the top 25 selling artists in the June, 2002 issue of Decor magazine. The 7th Annual Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children chose Steve as their Feature Artist in 2002.
(The Greenwich Workshop®)

Waiting in the Rain
(The Greenwich Workshop®)

After a period of personal loss, Steve Hanks began a series of paintings visualizing his healing process. This inspiring series, which can be found in its entirety in the new book Moving On: The Art of Steve Hanks, follows the artist’s emotional journey from despair to hope. Waiting in the Rain is one of the last paintings in the healing series.
“At this point I had come out of my sadness. I began to think about the future. I thought about the kind of person I would want to come into my life,” says Hanks. “Waiting in the Rain is the visualization of that person, someone supportive and faithful. We would all like to have someone there waiting for us when return from a trip.”
Other Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Limited Editions from the healing series include A New Beginning and New Shoreline. (The Greenwich Workshop®)

(The Greenwich Workshop®)

“When a child is learning a musical instrument,” says Steve Hanks,“it’s difficult for the student as well as their family to patiently endure the practice time.The presence of the cat in Duet shows that practice has paid off and now the music is so comforting that even the family cat will stay around to enjoy it.
“My paintings of children are about my hopes and dreams for them, and about my desire to expose them to the arts: literature, art, music, dance and theater. I want to encourage them to make decisions for themselves, to stand on their own two feet, to think for themselves and to reach for their dreams.” This Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Anniversary GiclĂ©e Canvas, reproduced from one of Steve Hanks’ most beloved paintings, will make a heartwarming addition to any music room or office or a thoughtful gift for the aspiring musician in your life. (The Greenwich Workshop®)

Dancing on the Shore (1)
(The Greenwich Workshop®)

"This private dance on the foggy Oregon beach expresses joy and freedom," says Steve Hanks. "As the young dancer twirls, we learn that we are not the audience this dance is meant for." From the girl's simple yet powerful reflection in the water to the sunlight dissipating through the misty sky, this beautiful work of art will make an uplifting and inspiring addition to any wall. (The Greenwich Workshop®)

Hold Onto the Gate
(The Greenwich Workshop®)

"I love to revist the times when my kids were young and innocent and liked to play make-believe," says artist Steve Hanks. This little angel is probably too young to be outside the gate by herself so she's going to hold on tightly, with both hands."
Hold Onto the Gate is a darling portrait of a child's first glimpse of life outside the family. The elaborate wrought iron gate makes a dramatic backdrop to the fragility of the little ballerina standing before it. She won't be like this for long (The Greenwich Workshop®)
Steve Hanks took a job as a caretaker at a Campfire Girl’s camp near Cuba, New Mexico in 1976. The pay was minimal, but the rent was free, and all during the winter months his time was his own. For the next four and a half years Hanks experimented with many media: oils, watercolor, pencil, acrylics. “If I hadn’t spent so much time perfecting my drawing skills,” he comments, “I would not be the painter I am today.” His first romantic piece, “Daisies and Lace”, was a harbinger of his developing style—it featured a lacy dress and a serene sunlit setting.
Hanks calls his style ‘emotional realism’. He often leaves the faces of his figures obscured or turned away, not only to leave the face to the imagination of the viewer but also to allow the entire figure to express the emotion. Backlighting is also a signature element of his style. “Sunlight has become one of my favorite subjects. I’m fascinated by how it filters through things, how it floods a whole room with color. Often my paintings are really more about sunlight than anything else.”
His marriage to Laura and the arrival of three children provided new inspiration for the artist. Many lovingly rendered domestic scenes were added to the portfolio during those years.
“I’ve tried to be responsible and put positive images out into the world,” says Hanks. “I hope that my work brings comfort, pleasure and insight into people’s lives.”-Steve Hanks (Artifacts Gallery)

Morning at Baker's Beach
From Free Spirit Art











All images from the

If the goal of an artist is to make his work timeless and universal, Steve Hanks chose perhaps the most difficult genre. He paints people. At first glance, it seems the opposite would be true. Wouldn't an art lover be more easily won over by a painting of the human figure -- something she can identify most strongly with -- than, say, a work depicting a bald eagle, or a sailing ship, or even a mountain landscape?
Hanks's work goes beyond the technically-proficient. Whether his subject is a young child playing in the sand, a woman staring dreamily through a window, or a group of men playing music on the street, he manages to infuse the painting with�warmth and feeling. "I'm not trying to paint people or places so much as I?m trying to tell a story," he says. "And to me, the human condition is the deepest story that can be told.
Hanks succeeds in telling this story not through sweeping, epic scenes, but by capturing what he calls, simply, 'moments.' "We all know, or eventually learn, that life goes by so quickly," he says. "It's full of little happenings that can pass you by -- one instant they're happening, the next they're gone. I try to capture those moments in my work, to get people to pause and learn to see them, to notice them, to remember them. For example, when I was married, I'd pass my wife brushing her hair in the bathroom and think to myself, "My God, she has absolutely no idea how beautiful she is." That?s the kind of moment I try to capture in my work."
While Hanks developed his philosophy as a young man, it has been tested from time to time thoughout his career. The most notable was only five years ago when he suffered through a bitter divorce. ?I was completely blindsided when my wife left me,? he recalls. ?In addition to the pain of losing someone I loved so deeply, I had to raise three children on my own, help them through things, get them to school, make sure their grades were good, pack lunches, and, of course, continue to make a living. I was worried about where my art would go.? In fact, over time his art would reach richer and deeper levels...
(Excerpts from Steve Hanks Art Moments In The Human Condition, Scott Bestul at

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