hannah is one of my dearest friends so when i told her about this idea, i was so glad that she agreed to be a part of it. hannah and i first met through a mutual friend in high school but it wasn’t until after we graduated that we became close friends. hannah is an artist living with her fiancé in cortona, itlay. she graduated with a bfa in painting from biola university. when i went to see her work i fell in love, so much so that i bought one of her paintings. i found her life and artwork exciting and inspiring. i loved hearing her talk about it which is what led me to explore the idea of writing about it. i wanted to create a space to document honest portraits of people telling their stories; what they do, what inspires them, why they create. by starting this piece on the blog, i’ll be photographing and interviewing other creatives and posting under THE PEOPLE. whether you’re an artist, wood maker, cook, designer…whatever you may be, we want to hear your story. so without further ado, here is the first installment of THE PEOPLE. featuring the beautiful and talented hannah efron.
theblog: what has it been like adjusting to life in cortona?
hannah: “it has been tough but really beautiful. when i moved here last year i had a really hard time adjusting to everything. i missed my friends and family and the familiarity of my life in california…i still do, but i’ve adapted and i’m happy to call this place my home. i’m still here a year and a half later and i love it. i speak the language now and have integrated myself into the community. i have friends who i love dearly here and i have a boyfriend (now fiancé) who is the most interesting and loving person in the world. i’m convinced of it. bless his patient soul.”
“when i came back from the states after studying here i felt like california wasn’t the same to me as it had been before.”
theblog: what brought you to cortona and what made you want to stay?
hannah: “i studied art here about two years ago. it was a study abroad program with the university of georgia. it was the best. i fell in love with the culture and the language and the food, obviously. i also stumbled across a young chap who i fell in love with. when i came back to the states after studying here i felt like california wasn’t the same to me as it had been before. maybe because after you live on the other side of the world for a few months nothing feels the same. my life in california was lovely but it began to feel smaller and smaller in the sense that i knew the world was bigger. my relationship with my boyfriend continued long distance and one day i decided that i would move to itlay after i graduated and i did. and that was that.”
theblog: everyone knows each other in that town, do you miss los angeles and how big it is?
hannah: “you know, it’s funny- when i first moved here i didn’t know anyone. i had a deep longing to build friendships and see familiar faces everyday. i wanted to be a part of the group of ladies that gossiped outside the grocery store every morning. i used to feel annoyed that everyone knew me only as the american. they would all speak to me in broken english and i would speak to them in broken italian, i guess we both wanted practice. over time it became a playful game and i feel like people were genuinely excited to see me so they could practice their english. in LA i always wanted to slide under the radar. i wanted to quickly grab my whiskey at the bar and sit down with people i knew and people i could have familiar conversation with. because cortona is such a small town, after a little over a year the people here feel familiar to me. i like that. all that to say i do enjoy leaving my house and saying hello to everyone i pass.”
theblog: where is your favorite place to go in cortona-your happy place?
hannah:”this gelato place called snoopy’s. that’s where i feel most happy. all jokes aside…kind of… my favorite place to go is to the top of the town where you can look over the entire valley. i don’t know why i like it, i just do. it makes me feel good.”
theblog: when did painting start for you?
hannah: “i don’t recall a specific time when painting started for me. when i was a kid it was my favorite thing to do. i am and always have been introverted and it was something i could do by myself. i liked making stuff and i’ve always liked the feeling of pushing paint around.”
“painting has always meant discovery to me. it’s always been very natural. it’s my quiet place.”
theblog: what inspires you?
hannah: “people say i’m often distracted but i’m usually just overly intrigued by something around me, so yeah i guess that is distraction but average things inspire me. it’s a puzzle translating things i see and hear into abstractions and i like that. puzzles are fun”
theblog: are you inspired differently in italy than you are in california?
hannah: i am but i’m not. colors and shapes in my paintings have become more subtle but they always seem to be as they’re supposed to. i’ve always seen my paintings as recordings in my life. it’s pretty simple actually. if i see something i like, i paint it. different seasons in my life are very obvious to me when i look at my work.”