Holly Hansen: Expressively Abstract Mixed-media Seascapes

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Mixed-media Art

The spirit of the Atlantic Ocean is ever-present in Holly Hansen’s wonderfully dynamic seascapes—no doubt reminiscent of her time spent growing up on Cape Cod. Now working in Boston, Holly’s love of both dreamy landscapes and hectic cityscapes has melded together to transform her work into a powerful tool for self-expression.

Her compositions—loose and abstract—utilize lots of experimentation along with printmaking effects such as etching, lithography, silkscreen and more. Her work embodies luminous moods; each painting marks a place in time (or particular emotion) often found in one frothy wave or thousands of sand particles.

Swimming II, for example, may appear minimalistic at first glance, but in it lies enormous complexity of color, brush stroke and composition.


It starts with a tan, sandy color in the background fading gradually into muted teal. As the colors lap over one another like the very waves they’re creating, we see beautiful transition from sand to water. On the other side, though, an offshoot of frothy foam from a particularly robust wave crashes against the surf, sending salty sea mist spraying. This becomes the focal point of the scene, visually showcasing the idea of boundless, volatile energy.

Moving on to Holly’s next painting, Fish Landing VII, swirls of light and dark charcoal-colored hues reveal an element of spontaneity with the help of no color whatsoever. And yet, after a moment of study, we still see gushes of water seconds away from engulfing a still, silent beach.


Just a handful of pebbles lay strewn across the sand, awaiting their demise in this powerful storm. Tumultuous and wild, the sea takes on a new personality capable of causing insurmountable disaster to any poor fish along for the ride in each huge curl of water. One thing is for sure: it’s gonna be a rough landing!

Lastly, this untitled piece below abstractly illustrates the stunning collisions which occur when jagged rock meets the force of the ocean.


Tremendous boulders stand their ground, determinedly rooted in the ocean’s depths as the water frantically wages war in every direction. Wave after pounding wave beats the rock repeatedly, both blurring and highlighting the rocks’ sharp edges in mist.

This painting is much more three-dimensional and structured than Swimming II, but both contain the same essence of the ocean being invigorating and resolute. Yet this time, it’s wonderful to also to see the ocean come alive in an eddy of ever-changing colors.

Holly just this year received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a concentration in printmaking from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Although her artistic career is just getting started, be sure to visit her website to see how far she’s come—and the distance she’s destined to go—with her expressive works of art!


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