Jim Hansel, one of America’s premier wildlife, nature and landscape artists, is an artist with a twist. At the age of 12, Jim was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition called Stargardts.
This eye condition has left him legally blind. In spite of his limited vision, he pursued his passion for painting with the use of low vision devices and has become one of the most collected artists in the United States and Canada. As a result of his partial loss of vision, Jim hopes to serve as an inspiration to the American spirit in overcoming his disability and pursuing his passion for art. With images in nature, wildlife and Americana, Jim shows versatility and love of his subjects.
At a young age, Jim began to demonstrate his artistic ability. Throughout his life, he never swayed from his childhood dream of becoming an artist. Jim’s love of wildlife and the outdoors has been the subject of his artwork for many years. However, Jim’s ability to paint these images has not come without its challenges. Despite his visual limitations and that the world we see is not always the world Jim sees, he has learned to create beautifully detailed images with the use of magnifiers and low-vision devices. As Jim paints in the detail work on a painting, he is working only one or two inches away from the canvas. Yet, while he painstakingly adds these details, he has a clear picture in his mind of the final product.
Hansel also relies on his camera to capture his ideas and bring them into focus. Like many other artists, Jim uses photographs to bring the landscape and subjects back to his studio. At this point, he will enlarge the images, if it is necessary, for him to see them more clearly. But, snapping pictures is not the same as painting original oils. Amazingly, as Jim puts on his glasses and begins his brush strokes, his paintings come into focus. But, only a few square inches at a time.
Hansel believes that due to his vision, he spends more time on a painting adding more detail than many other artists. He has spent up to four months on a single painting.
Jim has said that he wants his artwork to be judged on its own merit and not on the basis that he is an artist with a visual impairment. This determination has launched him into the national spotlight. Since the release of his first image in 1987, Jim has produced nearly 175 limited edition prints. Many of the editions are sold out. His reputation for detail and his distinctive, colorful landscapes have proven to be very popular with art collectors worldwide.
Jim’s wife, Lois plays a role in the success of their art business. Since their marriage in 1985, Lois has been involved in the production of Jim’s art prints. Jim and Lois have two grown children, Joe, a meteorologist and Laura, an art student. Jim has also received much recognition and numerous awards for his work. In recent years, Jim has been commissioned to produce several paintings, which have been featured by Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and TIP (Turn in Poachers). The limited edition prints are being used to raise money for these conservation organizations. Hansel has been honored with many other awards to his credit. He believes that hard work and perseverance is why he has been so successful.