Hanging one of her prints, featuring her golden, Willis, in her home

Hanson’s Instagram feed—her gallery, as she sees it—is coastal, trendy and fun. Vivacious, cheerful colors and consistent cameos by her lively dog, Willis, lend themselves well to Hanson’s effervescent style—one that fans can’t help but smile at. “It’s been really interesting over the years to figure out what colors truly speak to me and how people recognize my work because of the colors I choose. When I first came to the island and painted exclusively in oil and acrylic, I thought it was best to use every paint color imaginable.  I would use dozens of colors without asking, ‘what colors really resonate with me and speak to the island?’  Painting in watercolor allows me to use a more minimal palette.”

Hanson’s process starts very simply, with a sketch. Drawing (literally) from her extensive background in fine arts, this is the part of the painting where she can truly show off her technical skill. From there, it’s a process of intricate layering. “I like to see a balance between transparent tones and really thick layering to get the specific details just right. It’s like an onion—just layer after layer,” says Hanson who often uses digital tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to perfect the finer details of her work once it’s complete. 

“I think the combination of my early training plus the natural magic of this island helps me create the perfect mix for my watercolor design business,” says Hanson who explains that her greatest measure of success is a happy client. “That’s the ultimate day maker!” she effuses.  

It’s common to see one of Nantucket’s famed lighthouses featured in Hanson’s work. The wake of a passing ferry crashing onto the shores around Brant Point is a particular favorite—a serene, iconic spot that Hanson has a clear affinity for. “I like to tell a story,” she says. “A favorite collaboration was working with Handlebar Café to figure out a theme for Daffodil Weekend. When visitors arrive on the island by ferry, one of the first things they see is the Brant Point lighthouse adorned with the daffodil wreath. From there, they head to the Handlebar Café to get their coffee before heading out to ’Sconset for the tailgate party and parade. I created the quintessential Daffodil Weekend vibe and Jason and Courtney Bridges, the owners of the café, printed it on hundreds of cups. It was exciting to run into people all over the island holding their coffee cups!”

“I’ll never leave ‘Sconset,” gushes Hanson about her home. “I think this part of the island speaks to me the most because I have a very quiet lifestyle which I enjoy with my dog Willis. ‘Sconset is also one of Hanson’s favorite places to paint and teach, mostly she says, because of the beauty of the bluff walk.  “I feel like I live in the country and when I go to town, it’s like going into the city,” she laughs.

In Hanson’s quaint cottage home, she’s turned one of the bedrooms into a studio space, with a few favorite projects hanging on the wall and well-used paint tubes scattered across the table. Still her dining room table—clad in a charming, blue gingham tablecloth and, in true Nantucket fashion, boasting an arrangement of fresh picked hydrangeas—seems to be where she spends most of her time. “Anywhere that I have a flat surface and good light, I will paint,” she says. Her walls are decorated with pieces by other local artists—women with whom she’s been lucky enough to build an artistic family with like friend and photographer, Lauren Marttila. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘don’t forget who took you to the dance.’ I wouldn’t have enjoyed the same degree of success without all of the incredible people who support my work,” she says, citing specifically her good friend Holly Finigan, owner of the Nantucket BlACKbook, who is a champion of women in business on the island. “She and my mom are my two biggest supporters,” she says with a smile. “I am forever grateful.”

Hanson has found herself a home on Nantucket—in every sense of the word. From days spent sprinting into the frigid waves off of Steps Beach with Willis to idle time shopping the picturesque streets of downtown, she embodies the spirit of the island community—in her art, in her life, and truly, in her soul. “Finding your own unique relationship with Nantucket is the most important part of living here,” she says. It’s something she’s excelled at, her art and her spirit a light against the characteristic Nantucket fog. 

Allyson Plessner is the digital editor
for Cape Cod Life Publications.

Find out more about Meredith Hanson online and keep up with her colorful world on instagram by following @merhanson and online at meredithhansonart.com

Make sure you pick up a copy Cape Cod Life November/December, featuring the Meredith Hanson exclusive cover, available here and for more Nantucket, check out our Best Of winners here!

See the next page to learn more about the people featured on Meredith’s beautiful cover!