Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Day 270: Drawing Bernice with Hannah E. Harrison
Hannah Harrison was born as Hannah Smith in 1978 in Laconia, New Hampshire. Shortly thereafter, she discovered her love of crayons. As an only child, they provided countless hours of entertainment and imagination. She also discovered that her pets, much to their dismay, were also a wonderful source of entertainment--especially when dressed in doll clothes.
Unlike her friends, Hannah did not want to start kindergarten at age five. She wanted to stay home and play for another year. She did not realize that she would have no one to play with, since they would all be at school. So Hannah filled her time with more drawing, imagining, and harassing of animals.
When Hannah finally started kindergarten at the ripe-old age of six, she was promptly moved from her kindergarten art class to the fifth grade art class by her wonderful art teacher, Marlene Witham. They called it “Special Art”. She soon mastered the media of egg-crate, popsicle stick, and colored macaroni.
While at Woodland Heights Elementary, Hannah discovered her passion for writing children’s books when she won the “Young Author Book Award” in 2nd and 3rd grade. The Lost Tooth, and The Bunny Ball were a huge hit in many social circles (mostly the circles that had her parents in them). It was then that Hannah decided she would like to one day have a career writing and illustrating children‘s books.
Hannah continued to excel in art at Memorial Middle School and Laconia High School, under the careful guidance and encouragement of Linda Danielovich. She also began taking art lessons from Larry Frates. And as a Senior in High School, the Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards, deemed her portfolio one of the 100 best in the nation.
Graduating as a “smart cookie,” and the top female in her high school class, Hannah was fortunate to further her education at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. While there, she continued to follow her dream of becoming a children’s book author and illustrator by majoring in Art, and minoring in Creative Writing. She studied under Bevin Engman, Gail Spaien, Scott Reed, Susan Kenney, Monica Wood, and James (Jennie) Boylan. She created her own independent study in Children’s book writing. She also interned with famed children’s book illustrator Kevin Hawkes. She helped him on his book Handel: Who Knew What He Liked. Mostly, she did research, but she learned a heck of a lot from him, too--including how to illustrate with acrylics. Hannah was touched to discover that he later dedicated the book to her “with much gratitude”. She also went on to become a Senior Scholar in painting , and in 2001 had a show in the museum titled Drawing From Words. Her paintings were inspired by the short stories she had written as a Creative Writing minor, and included such subjects as enormous babies and pirates.
Since graduating from Colby, Hannah has become a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and a Signature Member of the Cider Painters of America and The Hilliard Society. She was also one of the charter members of The Village Artist’s & Gallery, an artist’s co-operative. She has donated her artwork to fundraising auctions for humane societies, and has collected donations for animal shelters at two of her solo exhibitions. She has won twenty awards for her paintings, including five Best in Shows, two Judge’s Choice awards, three Popular Votes and the Presidential Award. She has painted portraits, signs, murals, theatre sets, fine art, children's books, and, since moving to Oklahoma in 2006--even tombstones! She paints with oils and acrylics, and does a little pen and ink, too. Her hobbies include crocheting, embroidering, and dancing. She is what is often referred to as “artsy-fartsy”.
Hannah’s paintings are a reflection of her life so far. They’re of animals dressed up in clothes, and of people she knows. They’re nostalgic and whimsical, and a reflection of a childhood filled with light and imagination. They’re a combination of childish innocence and adult sarcasm. They’re fine art paintings masquerading as illustrations. But mostly, they’re just fun.
Visit Hannah's website!