on 10 acres in Bend, Ore., should give Lindy Gruger Hanson plenty
of room to create. But trips to the beach wouldn't be complete without
leaving behind at least one abstract sand drawing made with rocks,
driftwood and shells. As for Lindy's name, it can get a bit confusing:
Lindy Hanson is her married name, but she signs her work L. Gruger.
However, it can be found listed under Lindy Gruger Hanson.
Painting the imaginative worlds she dreams up in her head, Lindy
Hanson's creations are influenced by her strong interest in mythology,
dreams, symbolism and ancient cultures.
"Sometimes there's a story behind the piece, but I don't often
give it away or try to explain it to others," she said. "I
like the viewer to create their own story."
However, a bit of the story is revealed when Lindy gives the paintings
"For me, a big part of the painting is the title. It'll often
come to me at some point during the painting, but sometimes after
I'm through. The painting really comes alive to me when it is titled."
Lindy tends to work in series. Many of her lyrical world paintings
have a semi circle, or world, in the lower right-hand corner.
"They are what I call lyrical landscapes or metaphysical worlds,"
she said. "Different shapes and images grow or fly around the
In her blue mountain series, Lindy is exploring the search or quest
for one's higher self.
"I'm intrigued by the idea of the path and how people relate
to each other and the world, and where one's life path leads,"
Though she sometimes paints on canvas, Lindy feels her best work
comes out on paper, so she'll use it a majority of the time.
"A couple years ago I started experimenting with painting
on wood and liked how that came out as well. The wood feels sturdier
for framing and I like the finished look of it," she said.
Lindy's technique involves building up layers of paint over an
undercoat of textural pattern. She uses a dry canvas, wood or a
very heavy watercolor paper that is covered with gesso, which creates
Layers of color and lines are applied, then often given an aged
look by rubbing off some of the paint with water when it is semi-dry.
More color, marks and images are applied, building up layers and
giving the painting a feeling of depth.
"My paintings involve freely applied abstract shapes and lines,
but at times I will use dream-like figurative forms, often with
a whimsical, playful feeling," she said.
As far as famous artists are concerned, Lindy's favorites include
Kandinsky, Klee and Mîro.
Kept Her Grounded As She Climbed Blue Mountains"
"I've also been inspired by an artist named Peggy Zehring,"
she said. "She teaches art classes in Seattle, Colorado and
elsewhere. Her classes taught me to experiment and try new techniques.
"She taught me to make marks on my paintings using tools other
than a paintbrush. Often I use cloth and string to make spontaneous
Zehring also helped Lindy explore her own style, go beyond her
limits and away from her graphic design influences.
At SHOOZAM: An Art Show of the Shoe as Metaphor for Our Journey
in Life at the Mirror Pond Gallery in Bend, Ore., Lindy won a third-place
award for "They Kept Her Grounded As She Climbed Blue Mountains."
"I felt very honored to receive an award," she said.
"Afterwards, the painting was featured on the cover of Bend's
weekly newspaper, The Source.
"Another show, at a lovely little place called the Sage Café,
explored a coffee theme, so I submitted a painting titled 'Cup of
Lindy's work can be seen by appointment at her home studio and
viewed on-line at her Web site, www.lgruger.com,
or through the site of Lindy and her husband, www.moonheadmama.com.
As a child Lindy spent lots of time making things. She would shut
herself in her room, create, then give a big presentation to her
"I remember making a life-size Raggedy Ann doll by sewing
and stuffing scraps of material together," she said. "And
I remember making a really decorative castle out of Styrofoam."
She painted rocks, drew pictures and was a collector.
"I collected all kinds of things to inspire me shells,
beads, material, found objects. I had a huge bulletin board that
I would tack my drawings and inspiring pictures to," she said.
Lindy's family has always been supportive of the arts. Her parents
collected abstract art, which had a huge influence on Lindy, and
her mom drew and painted.
Pinned Things to the Earth, So They Wouldn't Follow Her Around"
"My parents also took us to a lot of art museums when we went
on vacation or to a new city. That gave me a lot of inspiration
as a young artist," she said.
In high school, Lindy took painting and drawing classes and loved
them. She knew she wanted to take art in college, but was torn between
a fine art route or a graphic arts career.
"After I chose graphic arts my college art professor took
me aside and said I would always have to justify that choice from
then on," she said.
"But I saw more jobs listed for graphic artists than fine
artists and was thinking about how to make a living."
Luck of the draw
After graduating from Washington State University with a bachelor
of fine arts, Lindy stayed in Seattle and freelanced as a graphic
production artist for advertising agencies.
She also began painting again.
After a three-month backpack trip through Europe where she did
much soul searching, Lindy came home and decided to save up to move
to another city.
"I just couldn't see living my entire life in Seattle,"
she said. "I was either going to go to Albuquerque, N.M. or
New York City, where I had friends."
Lindy threw the names of three cities in a hat, San Diego being
the third, then drew one out New York City.
"I was thrilled and decided to go for it," she said.
"It took me a year to save up for the move. When I had enough,
I put most of my stuff in storage and headed to New York. I was
37 years old.
"I found work freelancing and shared an apartment in Greenwich
Village with two others," she said. "I also rented an
art studio in the Chelsea area on 14th Street and hooked up with
a group of artists called the 14th Street Painters."
It was in New York that Lindy developed the style of painting she
uses now. She also thought about becoming an art therapist, something
she'd been talking about for at least 10 years.
"I found a certificate program at the School of Visual Arts
"But I began to miss the Northwest and its lifestyle,"
she said. "I decided to start taking prerequisites and apply
for my master's. After much hard work I chose Marylhurst University
and was accepted."
After two and a half years in New York, Lindy came to Portland.
She became involved with the Talisman Gallery, found a full-time
job and bought a house.
"Talisman was wonderful for inspiration, meeting other artists
and showing my work," she said.
"After so many years of freelancing my career felt renewed
with my full-time job, so I decided to quit the graduate program
and focus on my painting instead."
Then Lindy met her husband, got married last year and moved to
Creating art is a big part of Lindy's identity; it brings her joy
while in the process and satisfaction when done.
"To stand back, look at something and know I made it, is very
satisfying," she said.
Lindy is always looking at odds-n-ends and thinking about what
she could make out of them. In her yard a giant mobile of driftwood
poles hangs from a pine tree, while a pile of old and broken bricks
were turned into the path of a 60-ft. labyrinth.
"It's like a calling," she said. "It's a means of
expressing myself that can't be done by writing or speaking. It's
a visual language that I feel I have to express in the language
of making art."
Lindy's dream is to continue putting her artwork out into the world
so that others may view it.
"I love the idea of my art bringing joy to other people. It's
satisfying and one reason I like to show my work.
"I create because I love to," she said. "And I will
continue to as long as I can."