About Art, By Janice Guinan
Artist Paul Hannon believes anyone deserving of the title artist earned it through life-long practice
Paul Hannon was born in Cortland, New York in 1952. He now lives and works in Halifax.
He studied fine art at the State University of New York, Oswego, Empire State College, as a studio artist in New York City with Pratt Graphics and at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. His work is in numerous public, private and corporate collections.
On the eve of his works showing at the McCarthy Gallery as part of the PLANS show, he sat down to tell us something of his work.
What role does the artist have in society?
Hannon: This may sound shocking, but I don’t subscribe to the notion artists are special or have a special gift. Every artist I know has worked hard at his or her craft to gain their levels of expertise. It’s a life-long practice and you really do have to work at it to get good results. To say someone is talented is to negate all the trial and error they experienced learning their craft. Artists are workers, craftspeople, makers of heirlooms. Their greatest contributions to society come from making luscious works of art.
What has been a seminal experience?
Hannon: When a friend of mine died in 1992, I realized I wanted to begin painting again. I had the training and lacked the commitment. However, in that moment, I understood if I didn’t get started painting I would miss the opportunity in my life. I was 40 when I began my painting career.
How has your practice changed over time?
Hannon: I used to paint scenes of Nova Scotia coastal life that were part representational and part folk inspired. My colour range was pretty wide as I used a fair amount of bold primary and secondary colours. Over time, I felt the need to develop my own set of colours based more closely on observation, and along with that came an inspiration to paint city images. I’m painting in a much more representational mode these days. It’s a harder go, but I like the results so I find it worth the effort.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
Hannon: I feel having a sense of inquisitiveness is essential. Having a sense of wonder doesn’t hurt. Nor does gratitude. Gratitude is a big helper in terms of creativity.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Hannon: I made a painting titled Getting Away With Murder. It’s a Maritime landscape with a winding road and a stream of police cars following a white Ford Bronco. It was my imagination on what would happen of he just kept driving and ended up here in Nova Scotia with the trail of cops. It was in the “Far and Wide” show and pictured in the AGNS magazine.
What are you working on at the moment?
Hannon: I’m working on a series of paintings for a show, opening Aug. 20 at the Courthouse Gallery in Ellsworth, Maine titled “Mainstream Allure” (http://www.courthousegallery.com). Most of the paintings are city-based, but there are also a couple of scenic pieces and some related to farms and farmers.
Where else can we find you?
Hannon: My website is paulhannon.com. I’m at Paul Hannon Visual Artist on Facebook. And at the opening reception for “Across the Surface” and meet the artists on Sept. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at NSCC McCarthy Art Gallery, 36 Arthur St., Truro, N.S.
Janice Guinan is a local artist who passionately believes in the importance of visual art.