Art Academy kids work with California based artist

Please note that all classes are currently postponed over lockdown – but we will start up again as soon as we are able – There is currently a waiting list for both the art academies Tues 5-7pm junior 8-11yrs and Wed 5-7pm 10-15yrs, but you can email to be put on the waiting list.

The senior class of the Heath Robinson Museum Art Academy (10-15yrs old) have been working on a project with a very successful artist based in San Diego, USA, Erin Hanson. Her gallery kindly sent the children the latest books of her work to inspire them.

Erin Hanson, like our very own Learning Officer started off in science and had a dual love of both science and art from an early age. Her work continues the legacy of the great impressionists of the past, whilst developing and adding her own unique twists.

She is inspired by the  light and colour she sees in her hikes around Californian landscapes with their brilliants skies, deep purple shadows, red rock formations and vast vistas. Heath Robinson too had a love of countryside and hiking, albeit mostly around the cooler and often damper climes of the outskirts of London. Indeed he is known to have painted watercolour landscapes to relax from his paid art work.

Erin paints mainly in thick impasto oil in brilliant and bold colours that seem to emit light. The children used watercolours initially to try and copy some of her paintings. By trying to reproduce another artist’s work you often learn about their technique or why they  did things in a particular way.

The children soon realised that they needed a background colour on which to work to achieve the sparkling and dancing colours that Erin does. They went through colour theory again and looked if they could see what sort of colour combination were so successful in Erin’s paintings. Her clever use of complementary colours is one of the reasons her colours seem to effervesce in her paintings. The children realised that she often seems to use the complementary (opposite colour on the colour wheel) colour to the main colour in the painting as an underpainting. She then seems to apply the main colours over the top but allows hints of the underpainting show through. This technique exaggerates the colours placed on top by providing the most extreme colour contrast.

The children then used the more opaque art medium of soft pastel and worked on coloured paper to try and achieve the same effect to great success. They then went on to create their own versions using their imagination or photos of landscapes.

The children loved working on Erin Hanson’s art techniques and learnt so much. We would like to thank her and her gallery for being so accommodating and generous, particularly in these difficult and uncertain times.

If you are interested in finding out more about the work of Erin Hanson visit

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