This Land is Our Land

Jen Hahn paints stunning landscapes to help viewers remember the beauty of nature. 

By Michelle Mastro

Photography by Kim Dillon


Landscapes are some of the most beautiful works of art. When Jen Hahn of Jen Hahn Studio decides on a landscape view to paint “it’s usually because of the light,” she says. “Or the way it breaks through the clouds or changes the colors of the ground.” She sees her work in landscape art as an invitation to the viewer to share with her in noticing these details that make the landscape so beautiful in her eyes.

“See the shapes of the shadows here or how the trees reflect in the water there?,” she wants to ask the viewer. “For me, this noticing is a reminder that God made all this bold and intricate beauty, and He gives it to us to enjoy. I hope people can connect my paintings with their own experiences of awe and wonder.”

But Hahn didn’t start out as a painter of landscapes. She studied art and design at Webster University and worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for most of her career. “I only took one painting class in college because I didn’t like the lack of control that I had over the paint in comparison to pencil or ink.” It was only after years of illustrating in a very meticulous way that she started to lean into the work of impressionist painters she so admired and their brushwork of imprecise figures. “I wanted to challenge myself to work more loosely, freely,” she recalls.

Flash forward to about seven years ago, and Hahn wanted to give painting another try. “Our family spends a lot of time hiking, and I love a good vista, so I started painting some of the overlooks and views I photographed on our hikes.” She began to teach herself to complete loose brush strokes, wiping away portions of painting where she got stuck on details instead of conveying the overall impression of the view. “I usually finish a painting by saying out loud, ‘Just stop. Walk away.’ Otherwise, I will overwork it.”

Hahn believes portraying the beauty of nature is important. “We are lucky to live in an area that has made some of the most beautiful places accessible to the public,” she says, “but protecting our state parks, forests and waterways from harmful industries will be an ongoing battle in Missouri.”

For example, she once painted “Protect Pickle Creek” after a visit to Hawn State Park and seeing signs posted by residents all along the highway that read "We’re Worth More than Silica Sand.” “Some of the most beautiful parts of our state, and more importantly, the people that live there could be negatively impacted by planned silica sand mining in the area.” According to Hahn, art that reminds us of our own meaningful interactions with nature can encourage us to preserve it. “How sad would it be to see one of my paintings and think, ‘Missouri used to be so lovely?’”

Now, whenever she hikes, she’s always thinking of possible paintings. From family trips in Colorado to spots all around Missouri, she has a litany of forests and rivers to pick from. In Missouri, she likes to frequent the River Scene Trail at Castlewood State Park and the overlook at Bluff View Park in Wildwood, spots she hiked as a kid and now takes her own children to. “Connecting what I’m painting to a memory is important to me, and my very favorite thing is when someone else sees one of my paintings and says, ‘I think I’ve been there!’”

Find Hahn’s art through her website or at Union Studio in Webster Groves. She currently has work on display at SALONSalon in Ballwin.