Art Pulse,  Featured Artists

Artist Spotlight: Hannah Reineck’s First Inktober

Some people see Inktober as an opportunity to let off steam and engage with art when they’d otherwise be “decompressing” after work (scrolling on social media). Others see it as a measured opportunity to improve their artistic practice; maybe they create a series for their portfolio or prepare a body of work for an upcoming show. Whatever the motivation, capacity and artistic ability, Inktober is what you make it. It can be fun, challenging, stressful, introspective, full of experiments, polished or pristine. 

Hannah Reineck would like to check “all of the above.” By day she is a Web Content Specialist and Graphic Designer with us at MacPherson’s; by night she is wife to Bunny, mom to Lulu, a cactus caretaker, pet portrait painter and a cat-whisperer. Oh, and she’s a life-long artist.

Hannah has had a relationship with art her entire life and this fall is her first Inktober. She’s wanted to participate ever since Inktober’s inception in 2009 but, like many people, has had a hard time carving out time in her schedule to create every single day. Hannah is also a self-identified perfectionist, and that can make producing and sharing artwork everyday particularly excruciating. But this fall, Bunny wouldn’t take no for an answer. “She was like, You have to do this!” Hannah says, laughing. “It helps to have someone supporting me, someone who is on my side already. She’s the reason I’m doing it.”

Hannah at work in her studio in Richmond, California

To The Command Center!

Every night after dinner and her daughter’s bedtime, Hannah heads downstairs to her studio to create. The studio space is key. “This is the first time in my life I’ve had a studio where I finally have things the way I want it. It’s great to unplug and come sit down here. I call it my command center. It makes me happy.” Her space is cozy, filled with colorful treasures, art and art supplies.

Instead of following the prompts, she decided to create a series of portraits of influential women who are playing a role in politics. Her focus? People who are actively participating in the news. They might make the news, report on it or analyze it. Her subjects range from NPR hosts, senators, supreme court justices and news anchors. Are they her heroes? “They aren’t all my heroes, but they are all sitting at the table,” Hannah clarifies. “They are participating in a story that is unfolding. Every single day there is breaking news, and these women are fighting for democracy. I find myself rooting for these people.”

So far, Hannah has drawn ….

  • Jill Wine-Banks, former Watergate prosecutor, MSNBC contributor
  • Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
  • Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of The House Financial Services Committee
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren, Law Professor
  • Joy Ann-Reid, MSNBC Host, Writer, Journalist
  • Cokie Roberts, Journalist, Author, NPR Commentator
  • Marianne Williamson, Author, Politician, Activist, Spiritual Leader; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice
  • Amy Goodman, Broadcast Journalist, Democracy Now! Investigative Reporter
  • Nina Totenberg, Legal Affairs Correspondent for NPR, Award-Winning Journalist
  • Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
  • Lakshmi Singh, NPR’s National Midday Newscaster
  • Senator Mazie Hirono, First Asian-American Woman elected to the Senate, First Buddhist Senator
  • Audie Cornish Journalist, NPR Host on All Things Considered
  • Greta Thunberg, Environmental Activist, Student
  • Michele Norris, Radio Journalist, NPR
  • Jane Fonda, Actor, Political Activist, Climate Change Protestor
  • Christiane Amanpour, Award-Winning Journalist, Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women, CNN Chief International Correspondent
  • Ilhan Omar, Congresswoman, Minnesota, One of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress
  • Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, One of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress
  • Rachel Maddow, Political Commentator, Author, Television Host

Portrait of Maria Felix, drypoint & aquatint etching

Hannah’s interest in art and her focus on using it to tell stories began when she was a kid. “I drew all the time,” she says. With two graphic designers for parents, she essentially grew up in an art studio, “with no TV,” she emphasizes. Hannah graduated with a printmaking degree from California College of the Arts; her professional career has always touched on the arts in some way. She is inspired by the work of Egon Schiele Hope Gangloff, Elizabeth Peyton and Laura Callaghan. “I use art to tell stories about people. I like to do figurative art, portraits,” she explains. “You almost spend quality time with that person; as I’m drawing I think about their life, what they’ve done.” This month Hannah has committed to spending quality time with some seriously badass women!

The Gifts of Inktober: Developing Process, Honing Technique

Many artists notice that creating every day, paired with the accountability of posting that creation online for all to see, forces them to approach their process and technical abilities with honest, critical eyes. Critical in a good way. “I really feel challenged. I haven’t done anything consistent like this since art school. Not only does it get easier, my hand eye coordination is getting better. I studied etching when I was in printmaking school: I love metal. Lines and dots. That was the way I learned to draw…my goal is to get much looser.”

How does Hannah choose the image to draw from? “I try to pick a “real image” of them,” she answers. I’ve been taking a lot of photos of the television. Other source imagery might be old photos if they have passed away, or headshots if they are a radio personality.” She uses a mix of supplies, with the goal of reaching a balance between loose washes and tight line work. “I use Pigma Microns and uni-ball Pins, I also use brush markers, though that can be heavy handed. I’ve been using ink out of a pot with a brush; I like how much looser I get with watercolor than with pens.”

Positive Loop

An essential part of the growth that many of us discover when we participate in Inktober is the act of sharing the work online: the responses we get. “At first, putting myself out there on Instagram was scary for me because I’m a very private person,” she prefaces. But now that she’s broken the seal as of October 1st, posting online has become a freeing experience. “I look forward to making the drawing every day,” she says. Her family, co-workers and followers look forward to it, too: ‘Who’s it going to be today?’ we wonder. The positive feedback, online and in person, has taken a lot of the pressure off. Instead of a chore, creating everyday is the highlight.  

She is almost through the month; our team follows her on Instagram, eagerly anticipating her next Inktober portrait. She’s brought the sketchbook she’s using into the office now and then for folks to flip through, which we can agree is a more satisfying experience than scrolling through tiny squares on Instagram. Will the creating last past October 31st?

“I hope so,” Hannah says. “It is a fantastic feeling, like meditation, or a long bike ride. It is essential to my happiness.”

Did someone on your staff participate in Inktober? Did their work inspire or catch the attention of your team? Comment below or email us, we’d love to check out their work!

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