Curt Hanson was one of the foremost painters who could truly capture the imagery of New England. His deep love of nature and New England landscapes led him to create breathtaking artwork. With the eye of a naturalist, Hanson imbued his realistic plein air views with emotional richness and a deeply felt atmosphere. Hanson was profoundly influenced by his childhood in Washington State, which fostered his love for the outdoors, and fondly recalled: “…my mother’s garden and our summers at the lake cabin.”
Curt began his journey at Fort Wright College in Washington State studying under Charles Palmer and Stan Traft, laying a foundation for his life’s work inside the classroom and outdoors on the many fishing expeditions the three would take. His path would take him to New York City where he would inhale the essences of the Barbizon School paintings and find shelter in the work of George Inness. From New York, he moved to Boston where he studied for three years in the atelier of Ives Gammell. Gammell trained with William Paxton, who, like the other Boston painters of Paxton’s time, studied in Paris when both academic and impressionist painting styles were at their height.
In 1979, Curt settled in Northwestern Connecticut, where he continued to pursue an ever-deepening relationship with art and nature. Having chosen a scene to paint, he made pencil or oil sketches out-of-doors in direct contact with nature. He may have finished the work there or in his studio, painting for the most part “alla prima” or without a detailed drawing. His original choice of position determined most of the compositional structure of the paintings, and he did relatively little manipulation of the landscape’s elements.
Hanson’s love of the sacred landscape led him on painting sojourns. Annually, he traveled to Thailand where he reveled in the magnificent beauty of Southeast Asia, and he was especially focused on the northeastern agricultural landscape in an area called Esan. He said of these seemingly disparate subjects: “I paint lily ponds here, I paint lotus ponds there. It’s just my work.”
With the canvas as his loom, Curt weaved the strands of his experience into vibrant harmony. The pure vision of childhood, the traditional training of his early adulthood, and his deep reverence for the present moment, all enliven the fabric of his painting. Above all, Hanson’s work overflows with the artist’s sense of connection, not just to the landscape in focus, but to the entire natural world. It is as if he has inspired each brushstroke with his own breath.