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Sketch Pad

Lindy Gruger Hanson
Imaginative worlds
by Kathy Anderson

iving 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.

World series
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 names.

"Lyrical World IV"

"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 world."

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," she said.

Depth charge
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.

"Keeper of Dreams"

"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 some texture.

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.

Breaking away
As far as famous artists are concerned, Lindy's favorites include Kandinsky, Klee and Mîro.

"They 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 marks."

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 Joy.'"

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.

"Cup of Joy"

Justifiable choice
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 mom.

"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.

"She 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.

"Winged One"

"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 and enrolled.

"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."

"Together They Sing"

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 Bend.

Visual language
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.

"Greeting Sunrise"

"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."

E-mail Lindy at lindyhanson@hotmail.com and visit her Web site. You can reach Kathy at kanderson138@comcast.net, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

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