THE SONIC CREATIVE: Hannah Lowe Corman, Artist & Yogi
How did yoga come into your life? A friend suggested we take yoga our senior year of college (for credit!!!). I loved learning the physical practice, alignment and anatomy and knew I wanted to teach yoga after that one semester. I continued building my practice at the gym until I had enough experience and savings to enroll in a yoga teacher training program at the Yoga Center of Columbia in Maryland. Being in a nurturing studio environment completely opened my eyes to everything else yoga could be and everything I had been doing wrong for three years!
What is your practice? When do you do yoga? My foundational background is in alignment-based Anusara yoga, and this is what I practice at home and the major inspiration I infuse into my teaching. I moved to NYC in late 2015 and found the Sonic community in early 2016. I’ve loved evolving more flow into my practice and being a student again. I always try to make it to Sarah Ireland’s yogini flow, or any class she teaches. I appreciate the Sonic teachers’ different styles, while always feeling confident that they have a deep understanding and appreciation for foundational anatomy and alignment.
How does yoga benefit your everyday life? So many ways!!! Just some examples: destressing through meditation and breathing, fixing aches and pains through posture and alignment, and moving, acting (and more importantly reacting) mindfully and with awareness. I recently completed the Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training at Sonic, and, as I’m currently 8 months pregnant, it completely complemented everything I’m experiencing in my body and mindset. I learned so much about the changes my body is undergoing and how to move and breath differently. I absolutely use the information covered in class every single day. I also feel much better prepared to teach prenatal yoga having experienced yoga as a pregnant person.
Does yoga help you be creative? Absolutely! Not only does it clear space in my head to allow for creative ideas to organically evolve, but it also directly inspires my paintings in my pursuit to create tranquility for stressed out people through my art. Also, I’ve incorporated my love of anatomy into a series of abstract figure paintings doing yoga twists!
How did you became a creative person? I’ve always loved drawing and painting, taking extra classes in art and art history throughout school, university and continuing education opportunities. My mom is an excellent drawer and her mom did watercolor paintings, so creativity was always encouraged and nurtured in our family. And I probably inherited those creative genes too!
Who are your creative influences? I love the simplicity of form and color in Georgia O’Keefe’s work. I too am drawn to creating something abstract out of what’s in front of me. We once had a project in school to do a charcoal drawing of a whole still life scene. I zoomed my focus in on a conch shell amongst the display and essentially drew it as an unrecognizable abstract form instead.
Where does your inspiration come from? Sometimes a color or mood or particular feeling sparks a series of paintings: For instance, I recently went to Arizona and noticed how even the greenery seemed bleached out by the heat and sun, and so I’m inspired by the word “Bleached” as well as desaturated colors to create my next collection of paintings. Recently I’m also incorporating what movements my body is craving into these paintings. For instance, using a palette knife to sweep a thick glob of paint around the canvas because it just felt right that my arm make that huge gesture. It creates much more free flowing work.
What is the secret to having a successful painting? To the idea above about painting with the natural movement of the body, not starting with a preconceived notion of how the painting is going to look or “turn out” has led me to some really cool outcomes. Being open to see where it goes. And also being open to other interpretation – I love hearing what other people see or feel in my work; I don’t want it to be about me but what I can bring up for the viewer.
What is your training? I’ve studied art and art history my whole life, and while I don’t have a formal degree in art, I’ve studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art, University of Maryland College Park, the Sorbonne, the Ann Arbor Art Center, the Art Students’ League of New York and Arts, Letters & Numbers artist residency program in Upstate NY.
Tell me about one of your favorite projects. This spring, while working and living at Arts, Letters & Numbers, an artist in residency program in Averill Park, NY, I created a series of 5 paintings using only a palette knife and a neutral colors. My plan was just to lay down a background for a future, more in-depth painting, but instead I loved the outcome of the quick white and grey study, and so I left it as it was. It looked like an abstracted landscape, even though that wasn’t necessarily where I was going in the beginning (better not to have those preconceived ideas of how it “should” turn out). I then decided to go down this new path and neutral colors mixed with white and grey for a series of other abstract works. Amongst the 5 paintings, the only colors I used were white, grey, tan, olive green, black and gold, with never more than 2-3 colors plus white in any given painting. The end results were dramatic and moody paintings that allow the viewer to draw their own feelings and conclusions.
Where do you draw your idea from for your creative work? My major inspirations are nature and the way I feel being in nature. This might take the form of a memory – oftentimes of the movement of the ever-changing sky and clouds, or a mood or color that translates to something completely abstract.
Do you think creative people look at the world differently? If so, how? I don’t know if they look at the world differently but I do feel like I’m very aware of the minutiae of my surroundings. I feel like I’m always pointing out things of beauty or interest that might just be mundane to someone else. But maybe that’s also the yogi mindfulness coming out in me!
Describe a typical day of yours… Everyday is different, but I try to reserve certain days of the week just for painting or just for administrative tasks. I always try to reserve Wednesday mornings for Sonic yoga if Sarah is teaching. I’m pretty sure any sense of a “typical” day is going to dissolve once I have a baby in August, so perhaps ask me again in the fall!
Favorite painter: Renoir
Favorite movie: I love movies but I’m not big on rewatching movies. Although I guess any of the Harry Potter ones.
Favorite tv show: Friends
Favorite musician: Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band
Favorite artist: Too many to choose from but revisiting paintings by Edward Hopper recently.
Favorite pop icon: No one in particular but I’m in awe of most professional athletes and their dedication and commitment to their talent
Favorite museum: Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris
Pick five dinner party guests (dead or alive): Joe Biden, Andy Warhol, Coco Chanel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, & Arianna Huffington.
Interview by Todd Henry