Welcome to our first installment of the weekly segment Feature Artist Friday, a focus on the artists, creators and makers in our community.

Hannah Lilly, she’s been all around the world, and she landed here! Hannah Lilly has worked in many different mediums, but like so much of us, she found the one that really supported how she expressed her vision. Hannah’s watercolors may not be what you expect from this often underused medium; its vibrant, intense and deeply emotive. Please take a moment to read this interview, look at her beautiful work, and be inspired by Hannah’s open vulnerability.

You can find Hannah Lilly on Instagram @chickenwitchtrinkets and Email: hannahglilly@gmail.com


I work mainly with watercolor and gouache on cold-press paper these days, however I have in the past worked with other mediums/ materials. What I like about watercolor is that not only can it be forgiving if you know how to work with it, but it can also be very easily manipulated/ controlled. Additionally, it can be very free and loose. I work on a smaller scale mainly, so I use watercolor with a highly concentrated color, and with little water. I currently still use watercolor palettes that I have had since high-school, an amount of time getting further and further away (18 years ago). I work as small as 2 inches by 3 inches and not generally much bigger than 14 inches by 18 inches. I have many motivations and inspirations and feelings giving me reasons to create. My father is an artist, as is my aunt so art has been in my blood since before I could talk. I currently am inspired by many 60 year old yearbooks (1955-1960) I have and also by the dozen or so vintage bird books I have. I have been inspired by portraits and birds for the past five years and looking at the same subjects over and over has given me time to learn more about each subject. I am inspired by developing narrative work, almost graphic stories through layering more and more birds and female portraits in small spaces. Someone said it almost looks like old film reels.

Since I was young I have understood the power of art as one of the best ways to help the vulnerable, challenged or marginalized. That is the general reason why art inspires me, because I have spent most of my adult life using creative arts for and with those who could most benefit by it. I create mostly in the evening after work (at least 3 hours an evening it seems to average), and many days in the morning. I love the quiet of the pre-dawn when no one is awake yet with a coffee and the sleep still in my eyes. That is a great time for me to create, when I’m fresh and right out of my dream world.To be totally honest, if I don’t paint one day I get cranky. I remember I was having a particularly moody period of a week or two, and my brother astutely said, I think its because you haven’t painted.

Art spaces are desperately needed, especially in this day and age. We make them thrive by making art affordable, irresistible, and accessible. Working with many different groups in the creative arts such as adults with developmental disabilities, incarcerated men and women, special education teens, and elderly with Alzheimer’s and dementia, I believe that the biggest obstacle we face is making art accessible and affordable. I was fortunate to work with some dedicated individuals with some great organizations, but this is not the overwhelming norm to have these types of programs viewed as necessary with these groups of people. Overall, I believe that as a society we are putting more value on technology and the sciences, when we just as desperately need money and spaces for people to do art. We can encourage others to create and express by making it as valuable socially as technology. Just because some short-sighted people may not see the profit marketability of art, does not mean it doesn’t enrich us as a culture and a society. Additionally, art needs to made affordable for people. Not everyone has financial access to make art and to express themselves creatively in the ways that they want to: we need to change this. It will change our society and our world for the better.

If I had free reign of a space and materials, I would continue to make the watercolors I am making now. However I would work on a much larger scale. One of the issues I face is simply space to be able to explore larger pieces. I also would love to have access to larger surfaces to create on: larger paper and larger canvases (of better and higher quality). I would also go back and explore acrylic paint again and oil pastels if I had larger canvases/ paper. If I really had free reign of a space and materials, I would start my small studio/ gallery for teens/ adults with developmental disabilities. What I need is a small space, supplies and some individuals . That’s really it. I have the commitment and the experience and the passion for art and for using art to help others.

My work is extra appendages on my hand; my artworks are pieces of me that cannot be separated. Despite not being paintings of me, they are a part of me. With each painting I have done I feel more and more connected. Some of the older pieces I do not feel so connected to, but with these recent pieces incorporating portraits of high school students from 1955 (with small blurbs about each student), I feel as if I know them. It lists nicknames, interests and future plans and some of them I have painted over and over. It’s using a real human source and I feel that I know them. I speak through them by giving them individual personalities, and personal details such as jewelry or tattoos that were not in their photos. Currently, and for the past two years or so as well, I have putting bruises/ bloody noses/ cuts on the faces of these women from the 50’s/ 60’s. Not only do I find the colors of bruises and wounds to be fascinating, but I am investigating how women are treated in our culture and climate. All of these women are sporting smiles, but additionally they are sporting evidence of physical violence. “Suffer with a smile”- women still have to ‘take’ domestic violence and violence from a variety of sources. Women have to have a ‘tolerance’ of this: we have to accept whatever is inflicted on us, It’s oftentimes even considered to be brought upon ourselves by how we dress, by how we talk, how we look, where we were, what profession we have, and the list goes on. These 1950’s teenagers suffered in silence with a smile and we continue to in this era. This is something we need to change.

As someone who relocated only a short year ago from much world travel/ living and from San Francisco, I am always looking for any artists that want to collaborate, chat, grab a coffee or talk art. People can follow me on my art Instagram (@chickenwitchtrinkets) or email me at hannahglilly@gmail.com for inquiries about purchasing or commissions.

WANT TO BE A FEATURE?! Email Marisa (marisa@riversidearts.org) and tell me a bit about you and your work! Photos always appreciated; not limited to visual art!


Marisa Dluge is the Outreach Manager of Riverside Arts Center, Teaching and Performance Artist and Self-Expression Enthusiast. Contact (she/her/they) at marisa@riversidearts.org