A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy.
– Edgar Degas, French artist in painting, sculpture, printmaking, and drawing
Last May 2013, I profiled my good friend and artist Tana Hakanson, who had her second showing in as many years with the East Bay Open Studio, sponsored by Pro Arts, in June. Tana sold 21 of the 24 paintings she had on display. “I was really surprised and pleased with the response from last year’s Open Studio,” she said. Going out on her own this year, she will be hosting her 3rd Open Studio the weekend of May 17-18, 2014 (1633 Mariposa Street, Richmond, CA 94804) from 10AM to 6PM.
Tana came away from last year’s event with rave reviews from all who came to view her art. “People were really responding to the work that I most enjoyed doing, which was working with fluid paint,” she pointed out. “That’s what I wanted to do more of, so I’m very happy.” Tana is doing more of this type of painting – working with “liquidy” paint that focuses on harmonization of colors and natural forms occurring as part of the process. Tana paints layer upon layer of oil paint, manipulating and working with the wet paint and then letting each layer dry. She works on up to six paintings at the same time. While the process sounds straightforward, it’s quite challenging. When the composition isn’t working to her satisfaction, Tana paints over the canvas and starts from scratch.
Last year, for example, she started a series of five paintings based on a photograph she had taken of sidewalk cracks. The photograph itself was framed to create the composition. On the canvas, however, the cracks – made by squeezing paint from the tube in thick lines created such a stark composition that it overtook the piece. Departing completely from her original idea, she added more layers until the colors of three of the paintings resembled rust or corrosion, natural processes that Tana seeks to emulate in her paintings. “I really love the texture of natural processes such as oxidation and patterns created by the movement of water and wind,” she explained. “The painting process makes me feel connected to the energy of natural processes, which makes me feel so alive.”
Big ideas, big plans
While Tana carves out time for painting – Fridays are her days off from her administrative day job so she can paint within a block of uninterrupted time – she has started thinking about marketing plans. She plans to eventually seek out gallery representation, and is working toward creating a website to reach a wider audience, as well as putting together an Etsy site. There are also other online venues to pursue.
The problem for any painter who is also a mom with a day job is trying to find the time to not only paint but market. Since selling most of her paintings last summer, Tana needs to build up her inventory again before she can host open studios and offer up paintings for an Etsy site or other e-tailer. So while most of her time is devoted to painting, she doesn’t have time for marketing. While having to deal with that Catch-22, Tana remains optimistic.
While she continues to paint and get ready for her open studio, Tana is getting her artwork out into the public. Check out Well Grounded Tea & Coffee Bar (6925 Stockton Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530, 510.528.4709), where some of her paintings are currently on display until May 15. She is also working to get her paintings exhibited in other local venues as well.
Tana hopes to gain more time for her artwork in the future. “I really need to disconnect from everything and have large blocks of time – time that is hard to come by,” she said. When she’s in the throes of painting, Tana is in her element: “When I paint, it makes me feel so alive. I’m enthralled by color and texture…the vibrancy of these elements resonates inside like a moving piece of music, forming an internal landscape – a garden of feeling from which to nourish.”