After years spent working in poetry, Utah artist Andrea Hardeman turned toward abstract and expressionist art as a means of “interpreting the essence of a feeling or moment.”

Inevitable Change: Andrea Hardeman’s Abstract Impressionism

Art

Andrea Hardeman is a poet and visual artist who found her knack for abstract impressionism during the 2020 pandemic. Her visual artwork sits at the intersection of creativity and mental wellness, channeling what she cannot express with words into striking paintings that welcome the viewer’s experience while holding space for Hardeman’s own.

“the art of self," Andrea Hardeman, Acrylic, 2021.
Photo: Bonneville Jones

For decades, Hardeman had thought of herself as a poet, but visual art was something she’d left behind in childhood. “I put down the drawing pencil in 2002,” she says. “Growing up, I mostly drew dolphins or looked at a picture and then tried to draw exactly what I saw.” 20 years later, the pandemic brought pain that needed to be processed. “Words felt too heavy and ended in a flood of tears. Instead, I set up shop [in] my dining room table and painted my emotions on canvas for several weeks,” she says. “It was during this time that my abstract and impressionist artistic styles emerged.”

“I have a deep desire to help people feel seen and accepted and am humbled that my art has been an avenue to do just that.”

It wasn’t until friends and coworkers expressed interest in her work that she realized its value beyond an outlet for her own personal expression. “It was something just for me—a way to process intense and complex emotions that I couldn’t articulate verbally,” she says. In this new medium, Hardeman embraced abstraction. “I love interpreting the essence of a feeling or moment, being a witness to how it translates through the paint to the canvas,” she says.

Those feelings come through. Hardeman’s visual style may be abstract, but the sensations maintain their distinction across her work. “Shattered Saturn” feels messy and angry, with wild strings of shell-pink, red and orange imposed over what feels like a deeply layered canvas. Meanwhile, “the art of self” is a soothing sea of skobeloff, blues and greens foregrounded by squirlish streaks of magenta. “Corduroy” evokes its name through wood-like vertical grains of paint, the background and foreground bleeding into one another like rain on glass.

It’s curious to me to hear from Hardeman about the rejections her art has received. “Being an abstract artist, particularly in Utah, you get rejected a lot and told your aesthetic isn’t a fit for the demographic here or for a market or event,” she says. “Many organizers don’t believe abstract art will be appreciated and will sell.” That’s surprising. Hardeman’s work is of such a caliber  that you don’t want to look away—you want to take it home and put it somewhere it can look back at you. “It’s taught me not to base the worth of my artwork or myself as an artist on other people’s opinions, regardless of their title or standing,” Hardeman says. Don’t take anything personally, she’s learned, because “no one’s opinion dictates your worth or value truly.”

“I love interpreting the essence of a feeling or moment, being a witness to how it translates through the paint to the canvas.”

This year, Hardeman published love the journey: POETRY AND ARTWORK SELECTIONS through Pierucci Publishing. She appeared in Urban Arts Gallery’s February 2021 exhibition LOUD! and is working on new ways to stretch herself through her newfound medium. “I want to work on a large, mixed-media piece that has an industrial vibe and is highly textured,” she says. “The plan is to use a wooden canvas and start with a base layer of drywall mud.” She’s also conceiving a piece that the visually impaired can enjoy, incorporating braille and colors that those with low vision will be able to see. “I have a deep desire to help people feel seen and accepted and am humbled that my art has been an avenue to do just that,” Hardeman says.

You can see more of Hardeman’s work on her website, papillonskies.com, or on Instagram @papillonskies.

Read more features on local artists:
The Body Abstract: Jill Whit
Images of Trust: Maru Quevedo