RedDot Reader Profile | Bonnie Sol Hahn

Artist Bonnie Sol Hahn lives and paints in Hilo, Hawaii. Inspired by her tropical surroundings, Hahn paints lush, colorful scenes from nature. Her works reflect the relaxed but vibrant mood of island life.

Going into the interview, I was struck by the way Hahn’s experiences living in Hawaii have influenced her work.

Jason: What drew you to your subject matter?

Bonnie Sol Hahn: I have always lived in beautiful places that are inspiring to live in. I am awe inspired by nature and enjoy trying to achieve the look and feel of what I see and experience in paint on canvas.

J: What do you feel is unique about your work?

BSH: My composition, perspective and color push are all key elements to my work.

Perfect Day | 30" x 40" oil on canvas | sold
Perfect Day | 30″ x 40″ oil on canvas

J: Describe your style, subject matter, and medium.

BSH: I am a representational landscape painter. I paint what I see around me. I use oil paint on canvas, linen or board.

J: When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

BSH: I have always made art, but I started oil painting when I picked up my dad’s old oil set in my grandparents’ basement when I was 14.

J: Are there other artists in your family?

BSH: I had a great uncle who painted, and my dad was a painter who is now creative in other ways.

J: Are there any artists that inspired you when you were developing your style?

Above the Clouds |30" x 40" | oil on gallery wrap canvas, sold artist direct sale
Above the Clouds |30″ x 40″ | oil on gallery wrap canvas

BSH: When I was younger I loved the impressionists, Monet being one of my favorites. I wanted to paint skies like they did. I loved their use of color. Now, I am more fascinated by art that is nothing like mine.

J: When did you sell your first artwork?

BSH: In high school.

J: How much art-related education do you have?

BSH: I went to the School of the Museum of Fine Art and have a BFA.

J: Are you a full-time artist?

BSH: Yes.

J: How do you promote and expose your work to potential buyers?

BSH: I show in 8 different galleries. Seven on the Big Island of Hawaii and one in Maui. I also post new work on Facebook, send out regular emails to clients, and have a website.

J: What do you feel have been your strengths in your art business?

Grass Skirts | 8" x 16" | oil on canvas
Grass Skirts | 8″ x 16″ | oil on canvas

BSH: I am organized. From planning what to paint next to organizing my files with my various galleries. I am also personable.

J: What job have you held in the past?

BSH: I have been a Gallery Associate.

J: How much time do you spend in the studio in an average week?

BSH: Typically I am in the gallery at least 5 hours a day (quality time), 6 days a week. Sometimes  a lot more.

J: Do you have a daily routine?

BSH: Yes. Although I am trying to change it to include some other things, like exercise.

J: How much work do you produce per month on average?

BSH: 6 pieces…depending on size of course…sometimes more, sometimes less.

J: What are your interests outside of your art?

BSH: I love swimming and snorkeling.

J: Thank you, Bonnie. Where can we find more of your work?
BSH: My website is under construction right now, so in the meantime you can visit my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ArtbyBonnieSol.

Hilo Bay, Late Afternoon | 24" x 28" oil on canvas
Hilo Bay, Late Afternoon | 24″ x 28″ oil on canvas

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

15 Comments

  1. Bonnie, Your use of color and the contrasts between lights and darks are just stunning. When we traveled to the Hawaiian Islands in the 90s, the Big Island is and was my favorite, but on the Kona Coast side. Your work shows a richness and depth that brings back salty air, perfumed flowers, and the pleasures of the Big Island. As a desert dweller, I appreciate the contrasts!

  2. I love your work Bonnie! They truly embody the colors, beauty and mystery of the hawaiian landscape. I lived in Hawaii for 12 years and the vivid colors of Hawaii will always be expressing through me too.

  3. I like the perspective in Grass Skirts where others would focus on the hands of hula dancers you focus on the skirts. Also nice use of color in all shown here.

  4. Beautiful work Bonnie. Love the use of colour – vivid and bright but somehow serene. I have never been to Hawaii (I am based in UK) but your work has certainly inspired me to visit!

  5. Whenever I direct customers to Bonnie’s work in the gallery, they are always struck by two things: first, the handling of her water and secondly, her depiction of clouds. I don’t think there is another contemporary artist whose landscapes emote as much mystery as Bonnie’s do.

  6. Hi Bonnie,

    I use to live in Hilo and you do a beautiful job of depicting the relaxed, tranquil feeling of the Island. Your work really captures the incredible sunsets there. That is awesome you are able to work full time as an artist.Do you go snorkeling at Richardson’s? When I first moved there I got around by bicycle. I would ride it with paint box and canvas in hand toward Hilo Bay and Coconut Island. Hawaii inspired me to major in art.

  7. I was very aware, while having the pleasure of viewing your work Bonnie, just how much all of our senses are called in to play as we create. I can smell the salt of your ocean, and hear the thrashing of the grass skirts as they moved in dance.
    I was listening to some very mysterious music a few weeks ago; the next two pieces I created were very surreal. Our sense of place is important in creating, but sometimes I’m happily surprised with how the small things around us influence.

    1. Exactly, everything influences us. Mahalo for your kind words. I do aim to re- create a sense of the moment in my work.

  8. I bought a print of grass skirts in a shop in hilo from you. You said “I’m the artist” And now it hangs in a nook in our living room. Thank you

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