Although teachers often cited
his artistic ability, Steve Hanks main interest while growing
up around San Francisco was sports. As a young teenager, Hanks
pursued surfing and tennis with passion.
He eventually tired of a steady
diet of competitive tennis, but continued to surf, finding a
spiritual connection with the ocean. Surfing had a strong
influence on my paintings, he says. The ocean often
appears in my work, because I have such strong feelings for it.
Although it was apparent early on that he had talent, Hanks refused
to do the required assignments in his high school art class and
earned a grade of C in the class. To prove I was good,
I did a one-man show at the high school and sold my first painting
to another art teacher, he says.
After high school Hanks enrolled
in summer session commercial art courses at the Academy of Art
in San Francisco. The only way I could convince my parents
to let me go was to say I was going into commercial art,
he says. I didnt even know what that was! He
did well in his commercial art classes, but it was a life drawing
class that captured his interest. He focused his energy on the
study of anatomy and figure drawing and transferred into the
California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California.
He graduated in the 1960s with
a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and then moved back to New Mexico
in search of a home art gallery. Initially, he drew in pencil
and painted in oils. His paintings were impressionistic while
his drawings were more realistic.
Eventually, an allergic reaction
to oils forced him to experiment with watercolors. Using the
techniques learned from other mediums, he found he could create
watercolors as finished as oils.
Deeply affected by the emotions,
shifting attitudes and music of the 1960s, the music of 60s icon
Bob Dylan often accompanies Hanks as he paints in his studio
today. Steve Hanks paintings are much more than endearing
images of women and children. Rather than conveying a specific
message through his paintings, Hanks prefers to explore memories
and emotions. All art is an escape to somewhere you want
to be or a feeling you want to have," Hanks says. "People
see different things in my paintings because we all have different
backgrounds and feelings. Hanks highly collected nudes
convey an introspective solitude that prompts the viewer to think
about his or her own life and path.
Women occupy a special
niche in my sensitivity. They express more storytelling ability.
Theres more magic in them, he says.
Art jurors began recognizing
the quality of his work in 1973. Steve Hanks won the Arts for
the Parks Marine Art Award of Excellence in 1990 and 1994, and
has been one of the Arts for the Parks top 100 artists since
1989. In 1991,
Steve Hanks received the National
Watercolor Society Merit Award and the National Academy of Western
Art awarded him the Gold Medal in 1992.
Since 1993, he has been one of
U.S. Art Magazine's top ten American artists. When the Pacific
Rim show in Seattle, WA decided to open the show up to a wider
variety of art in 1999, they selected Steve as Artist of the
Year. Steve wasone of five winners selected to the U.S. Art Hall
of Fame 2000. He was named as one of the top 25 selling artists
in the June, 2002 issue of Decor magazine. The 7th Annual Andre
Agassi Grand Slam for Children chose Steve as their Feature Artist