Nice to meet ya!

HAILING FROM THE FIELDS AND FORESTS OF OTTAWA, CANADA, I SPENT MUCH OF MY CHILDHOOD WITH MY TONGUE AT AN ANGLE AND MY NOSE INCHES FROM AN ART PROJECT.

 

Now, at 26, I still have a proclivity for straining my eyesight as I move brushes and pens across canvas and paper.

While painting has been in my life for as long as I can remember, I'm also a writer. Pursuing a career where I shaped words into powerful truth-telling was the plan when I started my Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University; however, that shifted during the last years of my degree.

Along with my studies, I played rugby for years until a severe concussion had me stepping away from the sport to eventually splash into water polo for two seasons. I’ve worked labour intensive jobs where I hauled trees to wood chippers as the only female crew member, to running a six-figure residential and commercial painting company for three years before becoming a business coach to mentor million dollar teams of student entrepreneurs.

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In the Fall of 2018, I experienced what I’m calling an unmooring. Within the span of about a month everything I’d grown accustomed to for the previous years had come to an abrupt halt.

I was 23, a number that felt simultaneously small and large, and for the first time in my seemingly many years, I was confronted with the rest of my life and realizing that it was up to me to figure out how to live it.

Now I know this doesn’t seem like a huge revelation, of course it’s up to me to determine my own life, and frankly, I’m blessed that this is the case. Picking a path and starting down it is something that many young people are faced with when they realize their cycle of school and summer vacations will soon be coming to a close. And it can be overwhelming.

During that season of my life I struggled incredibly with my mental health and was juggling the two demons of trying to determine what I wanted but also to not disappoint what I felt others' expectations of me were.

I’d launched my art studio in August 2018 and, at the time, I called it Unmoored Art. In the weeks of dark uncertainty through the end of that year and into 2019, I connected more deeply with that apt name. It acknowledged that many seasons of our lives are spent untethered, where we float directionless for a time, trying to determine what we’re meant to do to honour ourselves. Though I've since renamed my business to Hannah Michelle Studios, I still find myself at my easel or squinting through the viewfinder of my camera when I'm feeling the most unmoored.

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As 2019 chugged through Spring, I started to feel as if I was getting my feet under me; and at the end of March, my dad was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.​

In the short time between that horrifying dinner conversation and when we lost dad in July, I immersed myself in his RV and automotive repair business (now known as Kilby Auto & RV). I started there as a marketing and advertisement specialist, then we added building the business a website and Facebook presence. As dad’s sickness progressed, I added more and more to my plate until I was managing much of the business affairs and finally, on July 5th 2019, I had half ownership with my younger brother.

2019 was a mess of a year, leading to a 2020 that, outside of terrible worldwide circumstances, was also quite gloomy when measured on a “sense of fulfillment” scale.

Then, in August 2020, I made the hard, yet invigorating, decision to start art school, taking deliberate steps away from my full-time role in Kilby Auto & RV.

I’m excited to see what comes next and am positive that while there will be storms to weather in my little unmoored vessel, I’ll be just fine.

I stepped away from the Unmoored Art name just before 2021 because I wanted a more all-encompassing brand that would celebrate the many things I do creatively. Fine art, photography, murals, website design and writing...to name a few. Even though my business cards no longer say "unmoored", I hope visitors to my story will find some common themes here, and for similar souls, some camaraderie.

My style of art has morphed with time (and I hope it continues to do so) but acrylics have ensnared my fancy for years now. I love their boldness and they appeal to my general impatience with their efficient dry times.

When I'm not painting or maintaining my business's social media, I'm dreaming of (and sometimes actually) vagabonding across countries, armed with my camera.

I’m inspired to paint consistently, though most dependably by observing natural magics that steal my breath. I have daily love affairs with sunsets, and marvel at things like the glimmer of light across lake surfaces and the whispering of wind through treetops.

Outside of my art, I am an avid outdoors-woman and am 100 per cent, unabashedly, the person who critiques paddling follies while others are just trying to enjoy a relaxing canoe trip.

I cannot imagine a world without epic fantasy books and the smell of sun-soaked pine needles.

Thanks for tagging along for a bit of this journey!

Love, Hannah

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