Hannah--Day

 
    California born, artist and environmentalist Hannah Day came to Paris this year to study French and to draw trees. A constant in Hannah’s work on both sides of the Atlantic, trees have extended their roots in this young artist’s life far beyond her sketchbooks. As a fruitarian, Hanna relies on trees for everything she eats. And she helps save the trees she paints by doing much of her work on used shopping bags and postcards. Her environmental concerns, green lifestyle, and artistic passions are spiritually grounded, if that’s the right word, in Hannah’s practice of ‘Flying’ yoga. Hannah is currently working on her first children’s book.

S&D: Why do you draw trees instead of sunsets, skyscrapers, or jam-jars? 

H.D: Well, I didn’t really choose to draw trees. In fact, I resisted the idea for quite a while, beginning when I did one drawing in my freshman year of college in which trees were an essential element; I was hesitant because trees are a common subject… It ended up being the first drawing I ever completed that I felt was truly successful. At the time I thought my drawing’s success was despite the trees, not because of  them. I realized that trees are only cliché the way a naked woman’s figure is cliché; artists have returned to them over and over for a reason.

Hannah--Day

S&D: You are a fruitarian, what role has this played in your artistic life?

H.D: It was when I began eating a diet based on raw, whole fruit that I truly became enamored with trees, and as a result, came to accept my habit of drawing them. Their being the source of every piece of succulent sustenance that I consume suddenly brought trees to life in a whole new way. My drawings became illustrations of my reverence for these beings that generously dispense bushels of delicious food. Fruit trees produce more calories per acre than any other crop, and are the only crop that gives back to the soil. At the same time, their branches provide shade and shelter to many a creature, including us, and their roots wind through the earth beneath them to offer stability to the surrounding terrain…The beauty of the simple existence of something so gracious as the fruit tree makes me feel an inexplicable joy which I feel may have saved my work from rolling down a more cynical road.

Hannah--Day

S&D: But Paris is a big, dirty city…why paris?

H.D: It was kind of something that I had always planned on doing. Ever since I started studying French I have wanted to be immersed in the language. I have changed a lot since I originally made those plans; there is very little about the lifestyle here that fits with my current love of the sun, nature and fresh produce—but the art remains. There is a creative energy here that is infectious. I feel that one is encouraged in his or her creative endeavors; art is not deemed a selfish use of one’s time, but a way of life, and a way to share one’s life. 
Hannah--Day


S&D: Advice for young painters?


H.D: The best advice I have ever received, as an artist, is to just keep working. Allow yourself to produce bad work—mountains of it—and don’t let it discourage you from continuing to create. My yoga teacher here in Paris once explained that the tradition of Kundalini Yoga believes that not only can we not prevent ourselves from making mistakes, but that we can not stop ourselves from making the same mistake numerous times. We must continue making the same mistake until we learn the lesson that we are intended to glean from finding ourselves in the confounding situation over and over again. The hardest part about being a young artist is trying to find what you want to talk about in your work, how to communicate what is driving you to sit yourself down in your studio, or in your room with your guitar, or in front of your typewriter.  
S&D: Advice for young environmentalists?

H.D: It is physically impossible to live on this planet without affecting the state of it and all of the creatures who live on it. But as with being an artist, the most important thing is not to be discouraged, and more than that, to never ever believe that all that you do, or all that you dream of doing, will be for naught.
Hannah--Day
Artwork courtesy of Hannah Day,
all rights reserved.
Interview by Charlie Daly

Next Time:  Next week, poet Margaux Curcuru returns to interview Stacks & Dropper’s Charlie Daly about the orange typewriter series, sex, swimming, and Oscar Wilde.

Written by Charlie