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Ryan Hanna

Grinding the Gears of the Wheel

Sometimes I find myself becoming a little homesick, I miss my friends, and I miss the beach. It’s only natural that being in one location your whole life will ingrain countless memories. The one thing that I miss the most about back home was how everyone carried themselves, it was something almost unexplainable and special. So, when I first met Ryan Hanna and he welcomed me into his gallery I got a sense that reminded me of the people that I grew up with. On a quick break from his other gig and a cup of coffee in hand, he dusted off a few chairs, and we went into it.

Empress: You started off with drawing?

Ryan Hanna: Yeah, I was drawing in high school and then I hadn’t really done anything until Christmas… 2017.

Empress: You were in hiatus?

Ryan Hanna: Art has never been… it’s something I was good at when I was a kid, it was never anything I was doing. I was racing motorcycles professionally, and starting businesses, and stuff like that. Art kind of hung by my wayside. So, I picked it up in 2017.

Empress: Is there a method that you practice?

Ryan Hanna: Actually, no my truest form of painting is abstract and I don’t ever have any kind of idea, I just let the paint do the talking. I do intentional paintings from time to time, but it’s not really my favorite style of painting.

Empress: Have you done any commission work?

Ryan Hanna: Not in a long time.

Empress: You’re painting for you.

Ryan Hanna: Yeah pretty much.

Empress: Is there anything you do to prepare yourself?

Ryan Hanna: I guess I would be like the worst person to talk to about that. I just figure it out as I go, but every time I try and set a goal to do something harder than I did last, or try something completely new.

Empress: Do you use music for inspiration?

Ryan Hanna: I like a pretty wide range of music so it’s usually kind of blues rock, or some jazzy like kind of house music, or sometimes hardcore hip hop works too. It just depends.

Empress: Were there any artists that you saw that helped pave the way?

Ryan Hanna: Not really just the big ones that they teach you in school. I was told earlier last year that I looked a lot like Pollock, that my splatter stuff did, and so I didn’t know who he was, I looked him up, and yeah haha it kinda does look like Pollock, but I guess he drips the paint, and I toss the paint.

Empress: That’s crazy you had no idea who he was?

Ryan Hanna: No, but I’m sure through like just seeing it around I maybe might have picked it up.

Empress: A strange connection in a parallel universe.

Ryan Hanna: Yeah something like that, yeah very Pollockessc I guess. Especially I did a set of five, and that was pretty much all Pollocky.

Empress: Did you see that movie with Ed Harris?

Ryan Hanna: No.

Empress: He plays him.

Ryan Hanna: Oh really?

Empress: It’s pretty good man.

Ryan Hanna: I’ll have to check that out.

Empress: There’s some scenes where I thought he a was total wackado.

Ryan Hanna: Nice, ok so there are some similarities.

Empress: Do you feel that painting is outer body, that you become something else when you do it?

Ryan Hanna: It’s my form of meditation so it’s always kind of outer body. I have been meditating my whole life and this has been the easiest way to do that cause you know my creative brain wants to explore and do something. Where’s the other side, the more spiritual side just wants to relax and meditate for a while. So, it’s just kind of like the next… half the time I don’t even know where it’s going. Like I said so yeah it starts off with an intent, like I’m going to paint today and that’s it.

Empress: Some of it seems like there is a little soul searching in it.

Ryan Hanna: I generally paint when I’m having a hard time, like big scale stuff. This type of painting is actually my style of painting, it’s like half abstract half impressionist. Usually if I had a hard day, I work in a very stressful environment, in emergency services environment, so it’s twenty-four seven go, go, go, go, go, go, so this is definitely an outlet for it. I work in the refineries and power industry so we do active leak repair. I run the company, I have five to six employees and we are working on active leaks, stopping the active leak while it’s leaking. It’s a high stress environment. That’s why I don’t have a lot of time and I definitely don’t have a real schedule. I usually paint at night, I work sixty to eighty hours a week at my regular job, and I do another twenty-thirty painting.

Empress: Are you cool without sleep?

Ryan Hanna: Yeah, I’m an insomniac. So, I average two to four.

Empress: You obviously have a strong comedic side to you as well. The ice cubes paintings, do they get along at all, or do they hate one another?

Ryan Hanna: They are definitely at war there is no getting along, they hate each other, like… strongly.

Empress: Was this idea something you were thinking of when you would be at work or you were driving?

Ryan Hanna: I just like puns, I’m the worst at dad jokes, dad jokes are the best. These are my original dad jokes.

Empress: When you were growing up did you have a big group of friends?

Ryan Hanna: My parents were split up so I moved around a lot. I didn’t really make a whole group of friends, I had four or five but from my mom’s side I just saw recently the first time in fifteen years, and then I had some friends. I had a whole group of friends that was with my other four or five people so not a whole lot. Maybe I can count people that I can call and make a drive and they would come see me on one hand. I was twenty-six when I moved up here and started my business, worked, put my head down for three years and no friends, no time for friends, just work, twenty-four seven. The art thing has been great, I meet a bunch of people, I don’t have anything in common with most people, but everybody kinda likes art you know, and that’s pretty much where I am at.

Empress: Have you traveled all over?

Ryan Hanna: Yeah, I started my company up in Washington, that’s actually where I met my partner and the reason I started painting was I was up there by myself and doing a stand by shift. I picked up a bunch of paint and just started painting, and people were like you should do more of that, and here I am.

Empress: Is that where a lot of nature’s inspiration comes from?

Ryan Hanna: No, I was raised a sailor so my mom’s in the mountains, my dad’s in the ocean, I’m in the desert, it’s a weird dynamic. I get to dabble, I like the ocean, I like the trees, and the mountains as well. That’s kind of why I just was bouncing around everywhere, but I definitely need to be around water, that’s a thing.

Please check him out at:

628 Marin St.
Vallejo, CA 98226

All photography done by : Nate McKinley

Rocky Greenleaf

Rocky Greenleaf

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330 Virginia St, Vallejo CA 94590

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