Featured Artist: Hannah Smolyar



Hannah Smolyar shows off some of her work. Smolyar enjoys drawing portraits and is unafraid when it comes to adding detail and textures to her work.

Staring at a blank canvas and waiting to find inspiration is certainly a daunting task; the uncertainty of mistakes, redos and inability to start is stark in your mind. There’s no indication anywhere that suggests ideas on how to begin.

However, for junior Hannah Smolyar, a blank canvas seems to be a simple challenge, and even making dramatic changes and additions to her pieces isn’t much of a risk.

These pieces tend to include faces and people, which are Smolyar’s favorite things to create.

“I like drawing faces, or people. I’ve never been really good at animals or liked drawing animals or nature. I like mermaids the best because you get to do a face and the torso, the two parts of the body that I like doing, and then I get to do the tail,” Smolyar said.

These intricate pieces are time consuming, some even taking up to a year of work. Most of them are full of soft colors and expression-filled faces, which junior Claire Gallion, one of Smolyar’s best friends, says provokes different emotions.

They also hold what Sophomore Maya Shavit, a close friend of Smolyar, describes as “dream-like qualities.”

“She does a lot of very realistic pieces. I’ve seen some mermaid pieces too that are really phenomenal. She does these portraits where she’s able to see someone and completely capture them on paper,” Shavit said.

Shavit also admires Smolyar’s ability to be unafraid of change.

“She’s very fearless in how she changes the work,” Shavit said. “Sometimes she’ll be at a point and I’ll be watching her and I think ‘this has to be done, this is beautiful, this is perfect,’ and then she’ll say ‘no, I think I want to add pearls,’ or ‘I need to add details to make it more realistic, need to add details here, texture here.’ She’ll make it so much better. She’s not afraid to change, while I personally would be much more scared.”

Smolyar’s portraits are created with common medias that she enjoys, including oil paints, charcoal and different pencils. While these materials may be increasingly harder to find, Smolyar’s creativity remains unaffected.

“I think that everyone needs a creative outlet, and I think that art is definitely one of Hannah’s outlets,” Gallion said. “She also dances, but I feel like painting and drawing has always been a really solid outlet for all her creative energy because she’s such an overwhelmingly creative person.”

While she enjoys creating and seeing art, she also loves teaching it.

“I worked as an assistant teacher for art classes last year before COVID hit, and I’d help teach little kids and that was super fun. I don’t know if I could do it full time, but I really enjoyed it. I’d like to teach kids again,” Smolyar said.

Smolyar appreciates her own art teacher as well for helping improve her art and inspiring her.

“At first I would outline everything and everything would be very flat. It wasn’t very good, but my art teacher was super helpful,” she said. “Every time something was kind of flat, she’d tell me and I’d remember it for my next painting, so each painting would be a significant improvement. It’s still happening; I improve with each one.”

According to Shavit and Gallion, giving advice is also one of Smolyar’s strengths. Smolyar’s advice, to budding artists, is to not be overly judgemental of one’s own work.

“Don’t listen to other people’s judgements because your art doesn’t have to look hyper-realistic or proportional,” Smolyar said. “I think that people can be really hard on themselves, like ‘this isn’t good,’ but art is art, anything can be art as long as you’re proud of it and you like it. It’s all that matters.”