A Dudley Girl knows just how to soak up the season. We’re following some of our favorites to see what they’re up to this summer—in our styles, of course.
Today that's Mer Hanson (@merhanson), artist, designer and brand collaborator.
DS: What's on your summer agenda?
MH: I am thrilled to be spending part of my summer and fall seasons on Nantucket! I am currently getting my hand-painted holiday bauble collections ready, which will be inspired by Nantucket locations, motifs and more. Over the years I have experimented with hand-painted products and found incredible demand for one-of-a-kind baubles that make perfect holiday gifts and can be commissioned as custom wedding and anniversary gifts.
I’m also looking forward to returning to Aspen, CO to run a watercolor workshop retreat with May Selby of The Little Nell later this summer. And I’m working with hotels in CT to curate custom bauble collections for their beautiful properties.
What inspires you the most about the summer season on Nantucket?
I love the entrepreneurial spirit on Nantucket! Many of my friends run their own island businesses, with new ones popping up each year. When I was running Mer’s Method, my island teaching business, I would mentally prepare months in advance for the crazy busy season ahead. It inspired and energized me in a way that is hard to describe—that’s what makes the island so magical!
Favorite spots for eating/shopping/adventuring?
Whether you’re an artist, a foodie or a fashion enthusiast, Nantucket has so many places to enjoy. You can design your own escape, which I think is always the most fun because no matter how many times you visit, the island always has new and exciting things going on.
When it comes to food, I am a grab-and-go kind of girl. I spend much of my time painting/photographing around the island so being able to enjoy a big coffee + a healthy snack/meal on the fly is a necessity.
I love Espresso to Go for the best iced hazelnut coffee, and Claudettes for a veggie sandwich (extra secret house sauce of course!). And I love popping into Lemon Press to see my friend Rachel (co-owner) for a delicious acai bowl, some peanut butter energy bites and a soothing tea latte!
For shopping, Milly & Grace is celebrating its 14th summer in business—it's the perfect spot to find beautiful clothing styles, home decor and healthy skincare products. Create Nantucket on Amelia Drive is the one-and-only art supply store on Nantucket, with a beautiful selection of paints, brushes, papers, canvases and more. It's owned by my good friend, Kristina Kris, who has run it for 10+ years.
Adventuring on Nantucket, for me, is plein air painting excursions all over the island. I love to pack up my supplies and get out on location, whether on Front Street in ‘Sconset or the Sankaty Lighthouse, the cranberry bogs or even setting up on the sidewalks of Main Street!
How would you describe your personal summer style?
A combination of classic meets comfort. Like Diane Keaton in "Something’s Gotta Give," I am an avid turtleneck wearer—so I have been a huge fan of the Dudley Stephens fleece styles for years. One of my favorites is from a work trip to the Inn and Perry Cabin, where Lauren and Kaki generously gifted our group fleece pullovers for our Hinckley ride with the hotel. I picked out the Palmer Puff sleeve in Navy for a nautical night out on the water.
Now I can sport Dudley Stephens during any season with the launch of the Dudley Summer Dress collection! The new Bali Maxi dresses in Cabana Stripe and Ikat are two of my favorites—I can wear them on a plein air painting adventure or simply painting from the comfort of my own home. They are super comfortable and so chic!
When you’re not painting, you’re....?
Taking photos! Photography has played a big role in my art career and has enhanced the storytelling aspect of what I do. Currently, I’m traveling more frequently for work to team up with hotels, from Nantucket to Aspen and beyond, for watercolor workshops. Having my camera on-hand allows me to see things through several different lenses—as a painter, a teacher and an explorer—which fuels my passion for experiencing new places and spaces.
Pinch-me moment from your art career so far?
In 2016, I began partnering with local shops and brands on Nantucket and seeing my artwork on products such as handbags, shoes and clothing was incredible! Since then, I have collaborated with Serena & Lily, Saks, Veronica Beard, Vineyard Vines and other brands on hand-painted goods, watercolor collections and creative content.
A really big pinch-me moment this year would be walking into Mitchell’s Bookstore on Nantucket and seeing Magic Eyes, a children’s book I had the pleasure of illustrating with author Lauren Fornes, on the bookshelves—thanks to my amazing friend, Tim Ehrenberg of @TimTalksBooks!
My second pinch-me moment was in spring 2021, when I was hired by the uber-talented Gray Malin (thanks to the recommendation of Laura Cunningham of Yellow Productions) as Creative Director on his Nantucket photoshoot. Since then, Gray and I have teamed up on several projects and recently spoke on a panel at the New England Coastal Creative Conference together along with Lauren and Kaki. This summer, we’ll be teaming up to celebrate his new book, Coastal, with Margaret Anne Nolan of Centre Pointe.
Speaking of wonderful collaborations on Nantucket, last summer I worked with author Elin Hilderbrand (and Tim!) on a custom watercolor map of Elin’s favorite places and characters on-island. This spring, I collaborated with Elin and her talented sister-in-law, Lisa Hilderbrand, on the ultimate pinch-me project—stay tuned!