A Beautiful View

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See South Dakota Through the Eyes of Artist Mickie Hansen

Artist Mickie Hansen shares her heart for rural South Dakota through her colorful and brilliant artwork. Her paintings and drawings bring to life landscapes, structures, and people by combining intricate details with a sense of nostalgia. An exhibit of her work titled View from my South Dakota Home is currently on display at the Dacotah Prairie Museum through November 14.

Mickie grew up in the Cresbard and Faulkton area after moving to South Dakota from Texas at age eight. She says she has been drawing for as long as she can remember and that both her mother and grandmother did artwork as well. But it wasn’t until adulthood that she picked up a brush and started to focus on painting. Other than one class she took at Northern State University years ago, she is a completely self-taught artist. “When I was 37 and my second son, who’s also an artist, was 17, I went to Northern and took a summer class, and that’s all I’ve ever done. My son then went to college there as an art major.”

When she started out, her family didn’t have a lot of extra money for art supplies. “If I could find a brown paper sack or a piece of old school paper, that was the best I could do,” she says. Just this past summer, she was able to transform a garden shed on her property into her very first studio. Before that, she says she worked in a storage room in the basement of her home, completing about three to four paintings a year. But with her new space, she has been able to do a lot more. “I can spread out and have all of my art stuff out there now.”

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Many of her paintings show real scenes of old houses and churches surrounded by foliage that scatter the South Dakota countryside. While she has painted outdoors on site, she says she mostly has to take photographs of the places she is painting and finish the projects at home. “In this country the weather is never perfect,” she laughs. In addition to scenery, she also paints and draws real people.

In recent years she has used a new technique in her paintings by incorporating textured, undulating lines. This painting style is no coincidence, as she explains that she has developed an inherited condition that causes her hands to shake uncontrollably. “I’ve figured out techniques where you use the shaking hands to make wavy lines. If you want to make art, you’ll find a way to do it.”

One of her favorite paintings in her mostly oil work collection is Bierman House. “It’s a depiction of the house, chicken house, and old pick-up located on the farm my grandfather homesteaded between Chelsea and Mansfield.” She adds that the farm is still owned by members of her family today.

Mickie and her husband Verne raised three sons in Faulkton, where they continue to make their home. Along with painting and drawing, she has also designed ornamental gardens, created sweatshirt and appliqué designs, and completed drawings for a well-known phonics program. She says that most inspiration for her artwork comes naturally. “You have to have some natural composition elements when looking for things to paint, and that’s something you just see.” // –Jenny Roth