In this country, we are blessed with many talented artists. Jim Hansel is not only talented, but he has had to overcome special challenges to paint beautifully.
At a young age, Jim began to demonstrate his artistic ability. Throughout his life, Jim never swayed from his childhood dream of becoming an artist. Jim’s love of wildlife and the outdoors, has been the subject of his artwork for many years. However, Jim’s ability to paint these images has not come without its challenges. The world we see is not always the world Jim sees.
In 1972, at the age of twelve, Jim was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition called Stargardts. This eye condition has left Jim legally blind. Despite Jim’s visual limitations, he has learned to create beautifully detailed images with the use of magnifiers and low-vision aids. As Jim paints in the detail work on a painting, he is working only one or two inches away from the canvas. Yet, while he painstakingly adds these details, he has a clear picture in his mind of the final product.
Jim also relies on his camera to capture his ideas and bring them into focus. Like many other artists, Jim uses photographs to bring the landscapes and wildlife models back to his studio. At this point, Jim will enlarge the images, if it is necessary, for him to see them more clearly. But, snapping pictures is not the same as painting original oils.
Amazingly, as Jim puts on his glasses and begins his brush strokes, his paintings come into focus. But, only a few square inches at a time. Jim believes that due to his vision, he spends more time on a painting adding more detail than many other artists. He has spent up to four months on a single painting.
Jim has said that he wants his artwork to be judged on its own merit and not on the basis that he is an artist with a visual impairment. This determination has launched Hansel into the national spotlight. Since the release of his first image in 1987, Jim has produced nearly 100 limited edition prints. Many of the editions are sold out. His reputation for detail and his distinctive, colorful landscapes, have proven to be very popular with art collectors across the country.
Reaching his level of popularity has not been achieved on his own. Jim’s wife, Lois plays a major roll in the success of their art business. Since their marriage in 1985, Lois has been involved in the production of Jim’s art prints. With a background in advertising and print production, Lois oversees the printing of Jim’s artwork to ensure the highest quality possible. Jim and Lois have two children, Joe and Laura, who share their lives.
Jim has also received much recognition and numerous awards for his work. In recent years, Jim has been commissioned to produce several paintings, which have been featured by Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. The limited edition prints are being used to raise money for these conservation organizations. Hansel has been honored with many other awards to his credit. He believes that hard work and perseverance is why he has been so successful.
Reprinted with permission • Sagebrush Fine Art