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Have brush, will travel

Back in the 1970s, Derk Hansen got into making battle swords, shields and weaponry dating back to the 1500s.

Then he began doing some design work for a company in Mendota that also imported oil paintings from Europe.

The paintings wouldn’t always arrive in perfect shape, however, and that’s where Hansen came in, fixing and touching them up.

Not long after that Hansen got into painting himself. He did everything from landscapes and wildlife to floral and street scenes.

“Pretty soon I said, ‘That’s not too bad, I can do this,’” he said. “So I quit my job and started painting.”

The long-time Woodbury resident who opened up a gallery in his barn off of Manning Avenue has been part of the South Washington County Schools Community Education program teaching amateurs how to paint.

Inspired by his students, Hansen decided to expand into private lessons at the studio as well as people’s homes.

Hansen got away from teaching for a while after closing up shop at his Hawaiian home and stopped teaching there over the winter. He focused on his work at the studio until a couple of years ago when he began toying with the idea of making online videos and teaching again.

Now he’s hoping to reach even more students in person in a more laid-back, flexible environment.

“Here I can bring in the students,” he said. “I can adjust my time schedule to almost anybody. I can take single students or groups.”

Hansen has also been promoting his new motto, “Have brush, will Travel,” to make it more convenient for students who’d like him to go to their homes.

Some of the images won’t be too complicated and require one session, while others may need a minimum of six hours.

“It depends on what people would like,” he said. “If they’re serious about getting into art and they would like to develop that maybe they should have two or three sessions.”

Hansen’s work has been sold at local shopping malls and art shows. He’s done exhibitions and picked up velvet painting over the years.

He hopes to pass his lifelong career skills and techniques onto his new students in Woodbury.

“I enjoy passing on what I’ve learned in the 40-plus years I’ve been painting,” Hansen said. “I’m a self-taught painter, I can relate to people that want to paint and didn’t have the time to go to school or different circumstances.”

Hansen’s “Derk’s Saddle Tramp Studio” is located at Manning Avenue near the Afton border. For more information visit


Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.