"In the Artist's Studio" by Steve Hanks
Open Edition Lithograph, Unframed
Image Size: 12 X 18 in.
Edition Size: Open Edition
At its essence, Steve’s art is about the beauty in life: the
innocent loveliness of infants and children, the bond between mother and baby, the physical
beauty of the female form in light and shadow, in stillness and in dance. The composition of a
Hanks painting serves the emotion he sets out to paint, whether it be a vertical or horizontal
canvas, the mystery in a woman facing downward, or how the upward tilt of a chin exudes confidence,
the freedom of a girl’s spiraling limbs on a beach, or a young woman’s steady gaze at the wide
horizon ahead of her.
Hanks was a figurative painter and for the most part the landscapes and room interiors were used
for context not substance, although he included quilts and rug and floor patterns for depth and
texture. The deeper the emotional landscape of his subject that he wanted to express, the vaguer
the location. The complete expression of the figure was his way of saying, “This is where you are
in the world.”
That said, Aspen, Colorado was an often-painted family vacation favorite, as well as New Orleans
and Charleston, whose wrought iron and architecture and heavy green vegetation appealed to the
artist whose home studio was in high desert. Steve Hanks lived most of his life in landlocked
Albuquerque but his heart was near water. Contemplative figures were sometimes painted near
shimmering lakes and rivers but the Pacific Ocean is where both pure joy and the complications
of relationships played out in his art.
In the fall of 2014, Hanks painted a rare self-portrait in his studio. It is uncharacteristically
layered and complicated, befitting its subject. In the painting, there are reflections of
reflections and he includes the tools of his trade and the studio artifacts that surround him.
The life model, perched on the artist’s chair, studies her portrait on the easel. The tumbling
quilt and her leg convey the tall verticality of the painting, yet the horizontal portrait and the
framed art on the wall keep the eye focused on the center of the painting. The artist has stepped
away from the easel and is framed in the circular mirror. What is he studying? The model, the
painting, the life? In the mirror, above his head to the right, is the leading edge of a surfboard
and below that, another mirror and within that, the reflection of the artist in the circular
mirror and so on.
Steve Hanks’ In the Artist’s Studio is something special for his collectors and fans. Far more
than a sneak peek into his workspace, it is a gem of a multi-layered autobiography. The framed
art on the studio wall is mostly his own.