Harold E Hansen: Paintings and Stone Lithographs
April 15 – May 31, 2015
The paintings and limited edition stone lithographs of Harold Hansen derive their subject matter from inspirational places near and far. More than 50 realist scenes from the artist’s travels to Scotland, Ireland, England, France and Germany complement Hansen’s images from Wisconsin and the Southwest USA.
When Harold Hansen started painting professionally in 1969, the rural area of his adopted state of Wisconsin provided ample inspiration because it resembled the country life of his youth in southern Indiana. Born in 1943, Hansen pursued his early art interest at the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. A job as a keyline artist at Philipp Lithographing Company in Grafton brought him to Wisconsin in 1965. During his 12 years at Philipp, Hansen became an illustrator and designer, and eventually the Art Director. Meanwhile, Hansen had set up a studio and gallery in Cedarburg by 1971, and by 1977 was painting full time as a self-employed artist.
Hansen was inspired early on by the work of Andrew Wyeth, Eric Sloane, and Edward Hopper – artists who painted in a realist manner, often with a regional focus. Hansen went on to develop his own realist style of depicting barns and other nostalgic nods to yesteryear, often in great detail. Hansen also demonstrated his strong interest in architecture over the years, at first with barns and stone homes as focal points, and later with landmarks that mark a place geographically or culturally. His 1985 book,Sketches of Cedarburg, celebrated the community’s centennial year with drawings of many architectural details and scenes. More recently, a 2015 edition of lithographs captures the essence of the 1898 Jochem mansion in Cedarburg
Watercolor and traditional stone lithography are Hansen’s favored media for his precision artwork. His entries in Watercolor Wisconsin exhibitions have won top awards in recent years, and his work has also won awards at international miniature shows. Very few artists are still making prints in an edition from lithography stones, but Hansen excels at this lost art, and occasionally makes multi-color editions. One of the artist’s trips abroad featured visiting the site in southern Germany where the finest grain limestone lithography stones are quarried. In recent years Hansen has also explored his Scottish and Danish cultural heritage with travels to the lands of his ancestors as well as to England, Ireland, France and Germany.
Harold Hansen has had a studio and gallery space in various Cedarburg locations from 1971 to 1985 and again from 1998 through 2003. The artist now maintains his painting/lithography studio and gallery space adjacent to his 1847 log home in a picturesque rural area between Hartford and West Bend. While Hansen has for the most part remained steadfast to his realist style throughout his career, creative departures in some works bring in an ethereal or supernatural essence as a counterpoint to realistically rendered scenes.
Mary Chemotti, April 2015
Stonehenge, Stone Lithograph