Studio Visit

Peek Inside Painter Hannah Secord Wade's Garage Studio

Hannah Secord Wade in her Woolwich studio

ABOVE Hannah Secord Wade stands before finished oil paintings; she also works in acrylic.


In her Woolwich garage, Hannah Secord Wade wrestles with containing chaos in vibrant, richly layered works.

ABOVE A stash of artificial fruit that conjures the piles in some of her art provides inspiration, but she doesn’t paint from it. A giant hand-woven and beaded rug has been a side project for seven months.

Living in cities, finding and keeping studio space was always a struggle. You share it or there’s no heat or a landlord leaves with your security deposit. So when my husband and I found this 1830s farmhouse on 26 acres of hayfields with a semi-heated, post-and-beam garage for a studio, it was perfect. We came from New York apartments so we’re still decorating. But it inspires me to have empty walls. I think, ‘what could I fill them with?’ I have a lot of ideas about what I want to put on large canvases and so I have to decide which are most urgent. They come from my sketchbooks and I use an app called Painter that’s helpful because I can be out and jot down something quickly in full color. When I start on the canvases, the original idea isn’t what I end up doing because I’m reacting to marks I make and washing away ones that aren’t interesting. Objects start out clear and, as the layers build, they sort of get washed away too — I call this representation being eaten by abstraction. The works also depict this cycle of gathering and letting go. Baskets, fountains, the edges of a canvas are ways to contain things, but they don’t work — things spill over the edges. It’s somewhat universal, this feeling of being out of control and trying to gain stability, and I never get tired of exploring it.”

See Hannah Secord Wade’s work at Her spring show, Skirting the Line: Painting Between Abstraction and Representation at CMCA has been postponed, but can be viewed online here