Hanna Hedstrom is an artist, park ranger, and an amazing friend of mine. I've always admired her ability to create something beautiful out of nothing. She shared with me about some of her artistic influences and process -- come sit in with us as we chat!
Jen: What is your earliest artistic memory?
Hanna: I grew up in a very creative household - my parents and my three older siblings are all very artistic in their own ways. We had a dedicated “craft closet”, and I remember lots of art supplies laying around. I’d bring pens and paper on roadtrips, to the swimming pool, to church - really, wherever I went. I was very lucky to be encouraged creatively from a very early age, so it’s hard to pinpoint a specific memory. But, one of my earliest creative memories is finger painting with chocolate pudding in preschool (that sums up my love of art and food pretty well).
Why do you create?
I can think of so many different ways to answer this question, so I’ll try and summarize as best as I can.
I create because I want to express to others the way I see the world.
I create because I want to help others actualize their artistic visions. I love doing commissioned work because I get to work with others to help them bring their ideas to life.
I create because I want to educate and encourage others. I made a coloring book based on Yosemite and its flora, fauna and landscapes; I also have made educational coloring pages for the Climbing Stewards project in Yosemite, and for the Every Kid in a Park project. It’s really rewarding to see others learning from what I’ve created.
Finally, I create because it gives me purpose. I’ve been through periods where I felt lost or directionless, and starting a creative project has helped me focus. After my first season working in Yosemite, I was unemployed and back living with my parents, and had the realization that I wasreally bored. I started a craft blog after that, which has now morphed into my website. That’s when I started taking my art more seriously, and started to consider the possibility that I could be a professional artist. Looking back on that time, I realize how important that boredom was. There are so many distractions in the world that keep people from realizing their creative potential; I needed that boredom to figure out what I wanted to create, and what direction I wanted to take my art.
Describe your process for creating the artwork for the pouches. What mediums do you use?
I love drawing with pen and pencil, and--although I’ve gotten more proficient with design technology--I still start every project by hand, on paper. In this way, I am a “traditional artist”. After I have a line drawing, I photograph it or scan it, edit it in Adobe Photoshop, and then add color using Adobe Illustrator. These latter steps make me a “digital artist”. I love the combination of these techniques, and blending traditional styles with more modern techniques. I taught myself how to use Illustrator through trial and error, and some helpful tips from friends - I do each project a little differently as I learn new skills.
What has been your most rewarding artistic creation so far?
I’ve been donating designs to Yosemite National Park for their “Fee-Free Days” bookmarks for the last six years; when visitors come to the park on these days, instead of paying an entrance fee, they are given a bookmark as a symbolic pass for the day. The goal behind the fee-free days is to get a broader cross-section of visitors from the surrounding communities, and from around the state, to visit Yosemite. These days are crucial to connecting a more diverse population with the park, and the natural environment as a whole. I feel so honored to have a piece of my artwork shared with visitors from around the world as they enter Yosemite.
What projects do you hope to pursue next?
I love using my art to encourage others in their own artistic endeavors, so I’m working on a project that does just that; I am designing templates for paper mobiles that can be printed and put together at home, with limited or inexpensive supplies. They’re a combination of a coloring page and a three dimensional project. They’ll be available soon, so stay tuned!
You split your time between Albuquerque and Yosemite National Park - how does this influence your work?
My artwork is definitely influenced by my surrounding natural and cultural landscapes.
When I’m in Yosemite, I live in a small cabin, surrounded by mountains. I have no internet, and focus more on traditional art and plein air painting - I do more watercolors, and simple line drawings, and bring a small notebook with me on wilderness excursions. I try to live in the moment, and to not take on any new, big projects when I’m there.
When I’m back in Albuquerque, I have the time to focus on all the projects I couldn’t do while living in Yosemite. I paint or draw a lot of Yosemite mountain scenes, even while in New Mexico (I mostly draw from photographs). But the Land of Enchantment has certainly influenced my work as well. Albuquerque has such a creative community, and I’ve loved working with other local artists on various projects! The hues of the desert landscape, and the architectural style, and patterns of the Southwest have inspired so many of my pieces.