Featured Artist: Hannah Ratledge

This week's featured artist just so happens to be one of my photography clients.  You see, on occasion I am surprised to find out that the people I photograph are also in possession of killer skills, talent, and blossoming artistic vision.  Hannah, of Hanna Ratledge Art just so happens to be exactly that!

Hannah, tell us about yourself.

I live with my husband, Tyler, our cat Audrey, dog Roscoe, and two goldfish Obadiah & Maxwell.Tyler is finishing up his degree in Electrical Engineering and I work as a full-time cashier. So our days consist of him going to class, me going to work, and us ending the day by watching Netflix, playing a board game, or reading together. Which brings us to interests.... I love books! I almost never leave home without one. My idea of a perfect day is one spent at Barnes and Noble with a cup of coffee in one hand and the hand of my husband in the other.

Tell us about your art.  What do you do?  What is/are the medium/media you use?  What is your artistic process?

My art is mostly pencil on white paper or colored pencil on toned tan paper. However, I recently started using acrylic on canvas for my commissioned paintings. My drawing process generally starts with a photo or picture that I find inspirational. Once I’ve decided what direction the picture will take, I begin to draw a rough outline with a graphite pencil. Once I’m happy with my outline, I will start to shade with my graphite pencil or begin to lay down base colors using colored pencils. I follow up by filling in fine details and ending with a final outline in ink. Most of the paintings I do are commissioned by parents for their kids rooms, so the first step is talking to the parents to see what ideas they have for the picture. Then I try and accumulate the ideas into one concise theme. After I know what the overall idea is, I try to find reference materials to base my design on. I then create a rough sketch using colored pencils which I show to the parents to make sure it fits their vision. Once I get the go ahead I use watercolor pencils to outline my picture on the canvas and add the paint (the best part!). The final part of either medium is getting Tyler to look it over so I get feedback and suggestions so that it turns just right!

It's the age old question: where do you get your ideas?  What fuels your passion?  Are there other artists who inspire you?

Oh, goodness. I guess most of my ideas for my drawings come from what I enjoy- especially animated media and books. For my paintings I’m usually given the ideas by clients and I make them my own. My passion is fueled by my excitement of creating something from nothing- from having a blank slate and knowing when I'm done it will be something more than what I started with. I am really inspired by the amazing artists who illustrated the books I read as a child because of the way that they made a world of their own. I remember going to the library with my family and coming home with 20+ books. I just couldn’t wait to open then up to see what was inside!

What are your "credentials"?  Do you have a degree or specialized experience doing what you do?  How did you get your start?

I didn't go to art school (or college in general), I have just been drawing and doodling since I was young- it's just something I’ve always loved to do! I really got started when I was 16 or so when I started doing some photo realism. I did a couple of graphite pencil portraits but I didn't keep it up, I guess because there wasn’t really much creative freedom. This year I really found where my heart was at- doing animated and colorful projects. One of my dreams is to write and illustrate a children's book.

What makes you excited to "go to work" each day?  What are the specific challenges in your field or expertise?

I do pretty much of all of my drawings at work when we're slow- I have great employers! I paint at home in the evenings when I get off or on the weekends. I am excited anytime I start a new project- I can't wait to see the end result. The in between isn't always easy- If I get stressed or things aren’t working right, I take a break... lots of breaks (especially for coffee)!

Who is your ideal client?  What kind of product is this client looking for?  What does she need or want from you?

Anyone who has children, who knows children, or who is a child at heart! I'm concentrating on painting, but I could also do a small colored pencil drawing. Do you need some art for a children's bedroom, playroom, nursery, or bathroom? If you have a specific idea for a piece, I will work with you to create it. Or if you have a more general idea I will come up with a design for you. I always start with a sketch to make sure everything is the way you want before the painting begins. Does your granddaughter love unicorns or does your little boy adore trains? We can make something special just for them.

Do you incorporate any spiritual practices in your daily life?  What keeps you sane?  Favorite comfort food or hot beverage?  What is your "center"?  What is your higher purpose or calling?

My husband keeps me laughing. ALL. THE. TIME. He encourages and supports my dreams and ambitions. He keeps God at the center of our marriage. I don't know what I would do without him. He's my best friend. Also, coffee. Coffee. Coffee. I love my coffee! Coffeeee. God has blessed me with wonderful opportunities and relationships. When I get discouraged or things aren't going smoothly, I remember this verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

You can find more of Hannah's work (and even commission her) via her Facebook page and on Instagram @fairestsquire89.

Every Friday, Lauren Bee's the FINE ART of becoming features a sister artist -- and her amazing work.  Who is she?  Of what does her soul sing?  Why does she do what she does?

Would you like to have your work featured?  We thought you'd never ask!  Check out the submission guidelines and be a part of our thriving, creative community.