“The tactility of paint leads me into my creative process,” explains Colorado artist Hannah Shook. “It’s the beauty, presence, expressiveness and power of the paint itself.” Shook finds just as much contagious “life force” in her medium as she does in the living, breathing landscape that is her subject. Dramatic swaths of oil paint give her compositions a sculptural quality; bulbs of color reach out toward the viewer before swirling and shifting back across the canvas, picking up variations of vivid hues along the way. The finished painting looks as if the artist’s wet loaded brush just left the canvas, even though it often takes months to fully dry. Shook imbues urgent expression into every stroke so that even when long completed and untouched, her paintings pulse with vivacious energy. “My soul just comes spilling out,” Shook says of her painting process.
Shook currently resides in Colorado near the Peak to Peak Highway, nestled between Estes Park and the scenic mountain town of Nederland. Northern New Mexico routinely draws her in, however, as the land of enchantment is where she truly comes to life and feels the most inspired. It’s here that she first met Santa Fe artist Louisa McElwain, whose dramatic southwest landscapes resonated with Shook’s own passionate painting style. The two became fast friends, “kindred spirits” Shook says, and painted together sporadically when Shook visited the area. Eventually, Louisa invited Shook to her studio where she stayed for two weeks and painted with Louisa everyday. With some encouragement from her painting partner, Shook soon took up residence near Abiquiu where she lived for two years. “I was just in heaven,” Shook says of that time in her life. “It was a wonderful experience. I painted with Louisa for a year – in the afternoons after we painted we would drive around the countryside and look at old adobes. It was the most exciting year of my life.”
Louisa passed away several years later, but Shook carries with her their experiences together when she travels to northern New Mexico for painting trips. Whether she’s visiting the community of Pilar or camping at Ghost Ranch, Shook finds inspiration in crumbling adobes, red cliffs, ambling clouds and the pure vibrancy of the area. “It’s where my heart is,” Shook says of New Mexico. “It just has so much soul.”
In the colder months in Colorado, Shook brings bouquets of flowers indoors to paint. For “Black Irises,” “Echinacea and Sweet Peas I” and “Echinacea and Sweet Peas III,” Shook painted flowers that were in various stages of life, some fresh and blooming, others wilting and dying. Shook responds to her subjects subconsciously as she follows her own sensations, the rhythmic cycles of nature and the viscosity of the paint itself. “It’s a chaotic process,” says Shook. “I put everything I’ve got into every stroke. I paint with my whole energy and my whole heart.”
EVOKE Contemporary is proud to now be representing Hannah Shook. Browse her available paintings on our website and see her work now on display at the gallery.