EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066. Watercolor painting by WoodyHansen
Title: EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen, 15″ x 22″
To learn more about this painting, including purchase information, click on image.

For the past several years I’ve had the pleasure of participating  in the late Henry Fukuhara’s (4/25/19-1/31/10) Manzanar Outdoor Watercolor Workshops. One of the on-site locations is, of corse, the site of the Manzanar Relocation Center, located in California, on the eastern side of the Sierra Mountain range, between the cities of Lone Pine, to the South, and Independence, to the North.


As the reader may know, Manzanar was created on the basis of Executive Order 9066. It was not one of America’s brightest days. Today, Manzanar is part of our National Park System and stands as a reminder of how easily our rights as American citizens can be threatened…and publicly accepted, with little question.


Executive Order 9066, occurred in 1942. This was as a result of World War II, and during President  Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. The order authorized the internment of Americans of Japanese, Italian, and German ancestry.

At 31 years of age, Henry Fukuhara and his family were among American citizens who were interned at Manzanar, one of many similar camps throughout the United States.

RELATED INFORMATION found by following this link.

I’m sure the reader can recall the phrase, History tends to repeat itself. Or, as philosopher Santayana noted, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.


So, while at Henry’s Fukuhara’s18th Workshop, May 14-18, 2015, I painted three, half sheet watercolors, of which,  Executive Order 9066 is, to me  the most meaningful of the three.

The creation of the painting Executive Order 9066, doesn’t come easy. Truthfully, it is a struggle. I do eleven preliminary sketches/value plans before setting brush to paper. Prior to that the idea mentally incubates for the most part of two days and nights. Once the basic theme is determined, the problem becomes one of how to present the idea in an abstract manner.

The original concept is to place the phrase, Don’t Tread On Me, on one of the flag’s white stripes. Eventually, I realize this preconceived idea is distracting, taking precedence over compositional considerations, such as the small, white “9066” shape.

So, once the many red and white stripes are changed into one, big, bold earth colored rock-like shape I am on my way. I want the small, white, rectangular area simple and stark in contrast to the bigger, darker rock shape. I finally realize that by placing that same shape against several red and white stripes causes unwanted visual conflict.

I purposely elect not to add the term Executive Order, anywhere on the painting. I want “9066” to stand alone, to contrast against the rest of the painting. For those who know, “9066,” does it. For those who do not know, it would be in their best interest to do some research on the subject.

Perhaps the strength of this painting is that it leaves room for the viewer’s personal interpretation and reflection.  What does Executive Order 9066 have in common with the events of 1776? Furthermore, do those events have any relevance in the year 2015 and beyond? I think so.


Want to learn watercolor, or brush upon your skills? Check out my upcoming watercolor classes and workshops.

You’re invited to visit my WEB SITE, www.woodyhansen.com



Image of  Woody Hansen watercolor, , A Rose IS A Rose Title: ROSE IS A ROSE – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen, 15″ x 22″
To learn more about this painting, including purchase information, click on image.


A Rose Is A Rose, provides an interesting study of how a non-objective painting can evolve into the suggestion of a recognizable subject. In this way the work becomes not a non-objective watercolor, but one of a more abstract nature.

A Rose Is A Rose, begins free-hand,Without a priliminary  pencil sketch, or value plan, and with no other objective except to served as a class demonstration of one of the ways a shape painter might approach the creation of a non-objective painting. However, about half way through the process I begin to see the suggestion of possible subject matter. When this occurs, I’ve learned it is often wisest to either “destroy” any semblance of subject, or “go with the flow” and see what develops.

In this case, I conclude this might be an excellent learning opportunity, both for myself and the class as well. So, out with the objective of non-objectivity and in with a goal of abstraction.

As I perceive A Rose Is A Rose, the viewer is looking outward through a window of some sort, bordered on each side by drapes of a predominantly green hue. It is a bright, sunny, warm day enjoyed by a bit of red, flora which compliments the green drapery. A few harmonious, green leaves gently float into view adding a feeling of texture to the overall composition.

The flora could be of any garden variety the viewer might imagine, but for me, the flower of choice must be a rose. “When all is said and done, a thing is what it is.”  Or, one might say, “A rose is a rose is a rose.” At the risk of opening Pandora’s Box (or jar), I ask the reader, “Can you smell it?”

Ah, well…okay, there is always hope.


The Internet offers a wonderfully powerful  tool with which to work. Thanks to today’s amazing technology, a wealth of information is but a few clicks away. Instant informative gratification is at our fingertips.

It’s fun to randomly select a word or phrase aimed at a bit of research. The process can be informative, and an effective method of refreshing one’s memory of previous lessons learned.  For example,  if we Google (or Yahoo) the phrase, “A rose is a rose” we come up with a variety of explanations and opinions.

I select the explanation provided at the web site, The Phrase Generator, “The meaning most often attributed to this is the notion that when all is said and done, a thing is what it is. This is in similar vein to Shakespeare’s ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’.”

The site further clarifies that the phrase’s author interprets the phrase, “Rose is a rose is a rose” differently. “The line is from Gertrude Stein’s poem Sacred Emily, written in 1913 and published in 1922, in Geography and Plays. The verbatim line is actually, ‘Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose’:


Want to learn watercolor, or brush upon your skills? Check out my upcoming watercolor classes and workshops.

You’re invited to visit my WEB SITE, www.woodyhansen.com



Joyful Happiness, Original watercolor painting by Woody HansenJOYFUL HAPPINESS – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen, 15″ x 22″
To learn more about this painting, including purchase information, click on image.


There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door. – Marla Gibbs

Since this post promotes the concept of happy accident I can’t agree that a there “are no accidents.” However, I do support  the second part of the quote.

I’ve found that if one paints often enough he is sure to have an infrequent “happy accident.” By that i mean that frequency of painting almost guarantees, at the least, an occasional painting success. So it is with Joyful Happiness. Definitely a result of one or more happy accidents.

“There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.” – Bob Ross

To use a sports metaphor, one can’t score if he doesn’t shoot. Anyone who has played basketball, on what ever level, knows in his heart that successful scoring is a combination of practice, skill, and occasional happy accidents. Some nights, some games it is almost as if one simply can’t miss a shot. Sports casters often refer to this as a player having a”hot hand.”Something similar applies to creative watercolor painting and happy accidents.

Outstanding offensive basketball players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Jason Williams, Mike Bibby, Bobby Jackson,  and LeBron James know that skill, and experience combined with “happy accidents” play an important role in their on court success. Professional ball players don’t hesitate taking the risk of missing a basket or two, or three, or more!.

When experiencing  a cold spell, these ball players, and others,  keep shooting because they know it’s only a matter of time until the  “hot hand” returns. Call it what you will. However, I suggest this phenomena is–for the most part–a welcome happy accident.

The above painting, Joyful Happiness, came about during a demonstration for a class of optimistic, positive minded, and supportive students. No negativity here, just eager beavers filled with joyful happiness of having the luxury to practice and learn the art of watercolor painting. On this particular day, I felt like I had the “hot hand,” as stroke after stroke, mark after mark, just seemed to fall into place. Happy accidents in action. Lucky me.

Real biologists who actually do the research will tell you that they almost never find a phenomenon, no matter how odd or irrelevant it looks when they first see it, that doesn’t prove to serve a function. The outcome itself may be due to small accidents of evolution.
E. O. Wilson


Want to learn watercolor, or brush upon your skills? Check out my upcoming watercolor classes and workshops.

You’re invited to visit my WEB SITE, www.woodyhansen.com


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Triad Trash Cans. A watercolor by Woody Hansen. Triad Trash Cans – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen, 15″ x 22″

Spotlight On the Art Critic*

Normally, my personal comments occupy this space relative to the featured painting (above). However, as a change of pace I’ve decided to, instead post comments from various media art critics and their constructive criticisms. I hope you will find their opinions informative.

William Smyth – Boston News art critic:
I find this work menacingly playful because of the way the internal dynamic of the sexual placement of the packages brings the composition within the realm of discourse to the distinctive informal design. A masterful approach to say the least.

Margaret Fishbine – Los Angeles Globe, art crtitic:
It’s difficult to enter into this work because of how the subaqueous qualities of the traditional motifs create a unique and subterraneous participation in the critical design dialogue of the current century. 


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Mort Figamann, – San Francisco Free Press, art critic:
With regard to the issue of content, the optical suggestions of the purity of line contextualize the inherent over-specificity of the greater rectangle. especially with regard to  the unequal measures of the composition. 

Albert Bloomberg, – Arizona Herald, art critic:
It should be noted that the icon relationships of the elements of design seem very disturbing in light of the distinctive formal and informal juxtapositions of shape, value, and color, relative to exemplifying the trash cans as a contemporary landscape. Close, but no cigar.

So, what’s your comment?

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QUESTIONS? Comment? Leave a message below, or on my Contact Page.

* The above art critic comments are fictitious and intended to be puzzling, fun, nonsensical, and  humorous. Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental. The basis for each of the above fictitious comments has been generated courtesy of The Instant Art Critique Phrase Generator. Try it yourself.


Original Watercolor, Green Gold by Woody HansenWatercolor Title: GREEN GOLD – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, please click image)

Green Gold is a watercolor that begins on October 21, 2011 and ironically, is completed on the same day of a different month, two years later, April 21, 2013. Of course that is not to suggest work proceeded 365 days a year! This was more an “on again, off again,”project with intermittent painting time throughout that time period.

Briefly, here is the 10 step approach to the creation of this watercolor:

  1. Watercolor painting starts outdoors. Easel at about a 45 degree angle.
  2. Work begins directly on blank sheet of paper. No value plan. No pencil outline.
  3. The initial thought process is that of a non-objective painting.
  4. Bold, assured shapes are painted using a green mix of Hansa Yellow & Thalo Blue.
  5. Paint is allowed to blend, and drip. Several dry layers allowed to overlap.
  6. Tree forms evolve. Non-objective approach becomes abstract landscape.
  7. Switch to a smaller, flat watercolor brush (two-inch).
  8. Orange sky painted around tree forms using  Hansa Yellow and Permanent Alizarin Crimson.
  9. A Webb liner brush and black pen add details, tree trunks, limbs, water ripples, etc.
  10. A dark value watercolor mix of Permanent Alizarin Crimson & Thalo Green are the final two layers.

I find much enjoyment in beginning a watercolor painting in a bold, loose, non-objective manner. It’s true that one of watercolor’s glories is its willingness to blend, mix, splatter, and drip. If left to its own devices watercolor can become a valued ally in the creative process.

All that remains is a title. Tree growth in an environment like Sacramento is an extremely valuable shade source, providing much appreciated relief during hot, summer days. Thus, Green GOLD!

Questions? Leave a comment here, or on my Contact Page.  For purchase information, go HERE.


Original Watercolor by Woody Hansen, Happy Scarecrow

Watercolor Title: HAPPY SCARECROW – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, please click image)

The creation of a watercolor painting can be a crazy ride.  For example this watercolor came into being over several years, stretching from 2009, to 2013! The actual working dates are 06/17/09, 11/26/12, 11/28/12. 11/29/12, 12/03/12. and 04/05/13! The time spent painting on each date, of course varies from minutes to hours. Such an approach to creating a watercolor is not the norm for me, but then neither is placing a scarecrow in a painting.

So why the scarecrow? The scarecrow is the result of a spontaneous, multifaceted, serendipitous, event involving some small degree of risk and what might be termed poetic or artistic license. But wait, there is more, or as the late Paul Harvey might have said, “here is the rest of the story.”

First, the concept of poetic or artistic license is fascinating. Consider the title from the 1962 novel by the great Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes. That title seems quite creative, despite  some opinion that the original line might have been based on a phrase from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Despite poor grammar, someone certainly used originality and poetic license to his advantage and for our entertainment.

Second, there is the 1974, song lyric from “Tin Man,” sung by the group, America.  The lyric goes, “But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man, that he didn’t, didn’t already have.” What wonderful, imaginative word choice! Damn the grammar police, this is artistic risk-taking at it’s best, especially the repeat of the word “didn’t!”

Now, with the previously stated concept in mind, it is on that twenty-ninth day of November, 2012, that  I become aware of a serendipitous shape in the form of a scarecrow. At this stage it is little more than a blob of paint, a suggestive shape.  However, I reject the idea of a scarecrow randomly stuck in a rather rugged, rocky, semi-mountainous, landscape painting. What’s a solitary, scarecrow doing in a place like this, instead of on a farm-like landscape where he might be better placed? At first, it just doesn’t make sense.

Still, I can see with just a little nudging here and there, a cute, happy scarecrow could appear. A “cute: scarecrow? Perish the thought! Develop him further, or paint him out?  I decide to put off the decision. Back goes the painting into the unfinished stack.

Nearly a half-year later, on April 5, 2013, this watercolor is rescued from an ever-increasing stack of unfinished paintings. what to do about the scarecrow. Then I recall seeing, a month or so earlier an actual happy looking scarecrow sitting proudly on the seat of an old, rusty, tractor. Beside the archaic tractor, in a rather rugged, rocky, semi-mountainous, area is a sign reading, “Tractor Bob.”

Ironically, at about the precise moment of thinking about Tractor Bob, I become aware of the background music I paint by.  Into my ear canals something beautiful this way comes,”But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man, that he didn’t, didn’t already have.” Serendipitous. Artistic license. Take a risk. Instantly, the decision is made. In a few strokes of a pen and brush that blob of paint, that suggestive shape gives life to a “Happy Scarecrow.” Artistic police be damned.

Questions? Leave a comment here, or ar my Contact Page.  For purchase information, go HERE.

WATERCOLOR: Splish, Splash

Watercolor by Woody HansenTitle: SPLISH, SPLASH – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)

WATERCOLOR ADVICE: “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salviador Dali

The above quote reminds me of  a couple who were discussing their newly purchased watercolor, which had just been hung. The guy was annoyed at his wife’s indifference to what he felt was a poor job. “The problem is that I’m a perfectionist and you’re not,” he finally said to her.  “Exactly!” she replied. “That’s why you married me and I married you!”

Splish, Splash, begins outdoors on a cool, sunny Friday at the American River Parkway,a few yards east of the Watt Avenue boat ramp. Nice as the morning is, it’s one of those times we’re faced with the question, “What shall I paint?”

I elect to begin a non-objective approach without a value plan, or preliminary sketch,or idea of any kind. The chosen watercolor technique is wet-on-dry, i.e., wet paint applied to dry, 140 pound, Arches cold press watercolor paper.

A three-inch, flat watercolor brush, loaded with clear water is stroked across a nearly vertical  support.  The water drips down the surface of the paper, each drip following its own unique path of least resistance. The goal is to create a loosely applied, light value underpainting in the three primary hues, red, yellow, and blue. Each of the several watercolor strokes is randomly applied with only minimal thought as to the end result.

Next, the three-inch brush is saturated with a couple of medium value, red hues. This will be a dominate shape that will eventually become an interesting focal point. Finally, I step back about eight feet and with a flicking motion of the wrist, fling paint drops in the direction of the watercolor paper. Gravity is encouraged to take over as the colors run and blend one into the other, watercolor doing what it does at its juiciest best. So, timeout for Connor to play in the nearby  river.

Back at the watercolor easel, fresh eyes imagine the red shape as a truncated tree trunk, or perhaps some mangled, metal auto parts, etc. Then too, there is a three-inch broken blue, rectangle at the top of the painting suggesting  a horizon line which in turn could be turned into a backdrop for the river. At this stage, it’s similar to an ink block test where almost anything goes.

The non-objective approach goes out the window in favor of the suggestion of a possible American or Sacramento river landscape. At this stage this work is heavily weighted to the left. Then I notice a trash can about fifteen yards ahead and to my right. If I add two cans that will give me a Steel-yard composition. All that remains is to tie things together, and a rather appealing, though imperfect watercolor is created. Mission accomplished.

Questions? Leave a comment here, or ar my Contact Page.  For purchase information, go HERE.

River Residue – Watercolor

TITLE: River Residue. Original watercolor by Woody Hansen  (To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)

Ever notice the residue left behind along the banks of a large river after high water of winter or a damn release? All kinds of flotsam and debris are brought downstream , including uprooted trees, broken tree limbs, branches, twigs, etc. These items are then filtered downstream by healthy trees, branches, and bushes. The elements can provide a artist some surprising configurations that are an oasis to the imagination..

Thus are the beginnings of River Residue. The painting starts on location at the American River Parkway during a Free Friday outing. Ironically, there hadn’t been any high water for several months, but apparently previous images provide fodder for the imagination.

The origin of this painting lies, not in a planned illustration, but more as a loose, non-objective underpainting. Later in the day the painting is set aside in the studio with no plan for completion. Months pass by as it remains in a pile of unfinished neglected paintings, each of which is passed over for what might be deemed as more important paintings.

Eventually, River Residue reaches the top of the “To Finish” stack, where it is taken to completion in the studio environment. At times I enjoy encouraging a painting to evolve, to allow the imagination to run free, to a state in which the painting begins to “talk” to me. In this case, as shapes, colors, and values gradually emerge, my thoughts drift to mental images of the unique areas of a large river that contain a form of chaotic beauty in their own, right. Now give it a title and it’s finished!

Arts Issues

Keeping an eye on ART ISSUES

Yesterday, I saw a Twitter post that reads “Germany announces 8% increase in arts funding within overall budget cut of 3.1% “an indispensable investment in the future of our society.” I was unable to locate further updated, or supportive source information.

However, during my web search I came across a related article,  Submitted by The City Wire Staff on Friday, 08/05/2011, by John Jeter, music director and conductor of the Fort Smith Symphony Whether one is pro or con support of the arts, Jeter’s article provides food for thought:

Arts Issues: Funding the Arts

Like all things excellent, the Arts, artists and artistic endeavors need support to survive and thrive. On an international level, the Arts are supported in a number of different ways with the approaches to funding being influenced greatly by social-political and artistic history. A look at how a few different countries support the Arts can be a real eye-opener. Read more …

At the time of this post, this link leads to the rest of Jeter;s article: http://www.thecitywire.com/node/17119#.ULwlIKXBrHN