donna fischer | the artist next door | nov. 2016
Icy worlds lit up by colorful solar flares and giant moons. Murky swamps with green and blue mist rising up into an alien night sky. Hannah Wellnitz's imagination takes her to places NASA would fear to tread. With paintbrushes and spray cans she takes intrepid steps through rough and foreign worlds, seeing the beauty in severe conditions and desolate landscapes.
Not content to conform to traditional art subjects or formats, Wellnitz has a fire in her that fuels her experimental and complex approach to art. Producing art delivers a distinct sense of fulfillment that nothing else can touch, and Wellnitz is definitely hooked.
“Everything that I paint happens on accident a little bit," she states. “I love colors; I love bright, fluorescent with dark. I'm a little bit dark-minded. I dream about places that you wish that existed or would like to see that we'll never see."
Wellnitz admits she's more of an introvert, which may explain her ability to slip into imagined worlds to the degree that she does. What's more unusual is that she appreciates winter more than summer. Wisconsin's most under-appreciated season has a champion in this 26 year-old artist.
“All summer I didn't paint. I'm not a summer person. I think winter's really beautiful. Winter is just so magical."
When not creating on canvas, Wellnitz creates in the Liberty Café kitchen, where she's responsible for creating the café's weekly specials. It's here that many of her works are on display.
“I never thought of bringing my art out in public two years ago because I was so shy. I definitely have boosted my confidence a lot."
She says the exposure has helped her with the part of art that she does not care for, which is selling it. She admits that six hours of meet-and-greet at an art show can really wear on her.
“I'm not a big people person so that makes it hard. I just feel like there's so many politics in selling art and the marketing of it. I don't think I would ever strive to be a famous artist because of the business side. I just want to make the art."
Wellnitz is a self-taught artist and fiercely independent in her vision of what is and isn't worth pursuing on canvas. The structure that came with art class in high school didn't sit well with her and she had to endure a mediocre grade for her work at times.
“I got downgraded because I didn't do something a certain way. I thought, 'How can I get downgraded on my art?' Those classes were probably my lowest grades because I wanted to do things my own way."
Even now, Wellnitz resists looking around at other work inside the art community.
“I don't pay much attention to other artists and what they're doing. I don't look for help from anyone; I like the challenge and I like to struggle with art."
With her intuitive approach to art, Wellnitz enjoys the freedom of letting ideas come to her naturally and for that matter, from nature.
“Some of my best pieces have just come by not even thinking about wanting to paint, just doing it. And I'll try to keep it going by doing two or three at a time."
Critical of the pull of technology in the everyday lives of Americans, she wishes more people could see beauty when they step outdoors.
“I don't think people appreciate anything outside anymore. Everyone is so connected to their devices."
And while most artists look for the dazzling effects of sunlight on the natural world for inspiration, Wellnitz says it's night that intrigues her. Indeed, many of her paintings feature a large moon hanging in a strange sky. And, although messy, she enjoys working with spray paint and then adding a layer with freehand painting. A nice contrast of blended hues with rougher elements in the foreground can be found in many works.
With artists for parents, Wellnitz had a paintbrush in her hand at an early age and feels most at ease when she's listening to music and working on one or more paintings in her studio.
“I kind of live in my own little world. I've always had a big imagination. I have a lot of different styles. I see a lot of pictures in my mind; I dream a lot that I'm painting certain things. When I'm awake and I remember I can go back and paint it."
“I'm working on some abstract ideas now, black and white. I want to keep going and come up with different styles and ideas to keep people surprised."
Check out Hannah Wellnitz' artwork at Liberty Cafe, 228 N. Adams St, Green Bay. You can also find her on Facebook by searching “Curiouser & Curiouser."
Donna Fischer is an avid fan of music, film and art. When she's not writing on these subjects you'll find her gardening or snowshoeing around Green Bay.