Biography and Artist Statement

Sharon Lee Radke Hanse was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from Parma High School, she worked for
National City Bank for 22 years in various positions. For thirteen of those years, Sharon worked as Executive Secretary for Mr. Dawson,
Economist and Sr. VP. During that time, she studied a wide variety of art forms while trying to decide which one to concentrate on.sharon

While Sharon had been introduced to Calligraphy in high school, it was not until she was 35 that a renewed interest arose. What better way to express her love of fine literature than to present these works using Calligraphy and to embellish them with beautiful illuminations.

Since 1978, Sharon has studied the lettering arts and various related subjects.
Sharon began to create broadsides of poetry and quotations. These then lead to participation in art fairs and exhibits.

At one such show, she met fellow artist Richard Hanse. Two years later, in 1984, they were married and Sharon moved to Barnesville, Ohio, where they now reside with their two cats - Shoeshine and Gandalf the Gray, and numerous Toucan artifacts(no live ones).







Richard works as an all round maintenance/handy man and occasionally gets to work on some creative outlet. His latest creations are sculptures utilizing grinding stones once used in the Lotus Glass Company. He has created a giant mushroom in the front yard that gets everyones attention.

Sharon and Richard collaborate on various projects.

Gandalf the Grey


  • Information about purchasing Artwork
  • The Name
  • Education
  • Inspiration
  • Working Methods
  • Studio
  • Teaching Experience
  • Awards and Exhibitions
  • Art Fairs
  • Exhibitions

Here is some pertinent information
that you will help you when making a decision about purchasing artwork.

Archival - Archival material is created on strata that has a neutral PH, and are therefore acid free so that they will resist yellowing and aging. Archival papers are usually 100% cotton.

Mat boards can be archival (100% rag, neutral PH), or buffered (this helps deter the aging process) or non-archival.

Non-archival material will yellow with age and fox (rusty stains will appear). Non-archival mat board will eventually burn the edges of artwork, leaving dark marks on the paper.

Note: Because the environment is slightly acidic to begin with, mat boards will over time become acidic, even if they were made with a neutral PH. It is therefore recommended that mats be changed every 15 years to keep the environment around your original artwork in good condition.

Copyright - All rights pertaining to a work of art are the sole property of the artist unless arrangements have been made and fees paid. The copyright is automatic as soon as anyone creates anything, it is protected. No reproductions of the art for any purpose are allowed without a prior agreement. This extends for 95 years after the artists death and may be extended by the heirs.

Giclee - A Giclee is a reproduction produced using digital imaging. The original work is copied and digitized, then printed. They are  printed with archival inks on archival paper or canvas.

Limited Edition Print  (Reproduction)- This refers to the actual number of pieces that are created. This generally  refers to work created by any hand pulled printmaking process, and is usually limited by the process itself. An etching plate may only be able to produce 100 good  images. (see Reproductions)

Original - This term refers to any piece of artwork created by hand. They may be done in a series, but there will be some variations between two pieces - even if they look alike. This term also refers to works produced using any of the many printmaking techniques - such as etching, silkscreen, block printing, lithography, etc.

Print - This term has been used incorrectly for many years to refer to a “reproduction”. The word “print” actually refers to a work done using a printmaking technique such as etching, silk-screen, block printing, or intaglio - these techniques create pieces one by one in a limited number. Over time, the plate deteriorates and is no longer usable - thus the limited number.

Reproductions - The term “print” has been used to refer to “reproductions”. These are copies created by an offset printing or a photographic process. These are made from an Original work of art. An unlimited number can be run off and thousands more when those are sold. Limited Editions of reproductions should be no more than 1,000.


Toucan Design was chosen as a business name for several reasons.

When Rick and Sharon were married, they wanted to send an announcement to friends and relations. As Sharon enjoys bird watching, it was decided to use a bird on the cover, and since two can do it, the Toucan was the logical choice.

And we did.


Sharon has been studying art since high school. After graduating from high school,
she took
art classes at The Cleveland Institute of Art and Cleveland Community College, where she studied drawing, painting, and design and layout, to name a few.

In 1978 Sharon began a serious study of the art of Calligraphy. Her love of beautiful
letter forms and words has led to the study of many related fields such as Illumination (Celtic Knotwork for example), Gilding, bookmaking, paper marbling, papermaking and experiments in acrylic paste technique and collage. She has also studied silk-screening and other printmaking techniques. All of these techniques have added great dimension to her work.

Sharon has been privileged to study with some of the finest calligraphers in the world. Among her teachers have been: Sheila Waters, Thomas Ingmire, Peter Thornton, John Stevens, Marsha Brady, Mark vanStone, Denis Brown, and Leanna Fay, Harvest Crittenden, Marsha Brady, and Ann Binder.

Many beautiful works of literature have been written throughout the ages.

Words that motivate, inspire, uplift, comfort, and touch the soul in some manner inspire Sharon.

Using various media and her calligraphic skills, Sharon strives to present works of art that people will enjoy for years to come.

It is hoped that these beautiful interpretations will entice others to read them and thereby be inspired and illuminated.

The words chosen and the processes utilized form a network that enhances Sharon's own path to self-awareness and understanding.

illum V

Each poem, quotation or saying is carefully studied in order to determine the best design and layout that will enhance and emphasize the meaning or interpretation of the text.

Letterstyles used to write the text are carefully selected so that they help
to create this overall feeling. Each letter style (or font) has a personality which is capable of imbuing a certain feeling or impression. For example, stately Roman letters exude strength and formality while lively Italic letters are more lyrical and romantic.

The media used is also carefully selected. Gouache, watercolor, colored pencil,pastels, technical pens, and acrylic paint are used in conjunction with embossing techniques, paper cutting,gilding and printmaking techniques.

Sharon has been experimenting with Paste Paper Technique to create beautiful and interesting backgrounds. This technique utilizes acrylic paints mixed into a paste and applied to damp watercolor paper using a variety of tools to create shapes and designs. She is now applying this technique to canvas.

As focal points for some texts, collages are created using hand made paper, fiber, stones, paste paper and marbled paper (hand marbled by Sharon).

Works are presented as wall-hung art - either framed or as scrolls, and also as hand made books. Paper, wood and fabric are used as supports.

Each piece that Sharon creates has a design unique to itself. Some works are just text written on hand made paper with interesting contrasts of size and weight of lettering while others are elaborate layouts that resemble pages from illuminated manuscripts. Other designs have soft washes of watercolor, while still others may have detailed paintings of flowers or animals.

Sharon also creates Certificates and Resolutions for various organizations - see samples under Ordering.

In addition,  Sharon will make a sketch of your home or a particular building. For a number of years she has drawn the buildings in Barnesville to be used on the Annual Christmas Bulb produced each year by the Women's Club. You can see some samples in the Ordering section.


Sharon's studio is in her home where she is the sole proprietor of Toucan Design.

There, she works full time at her craft. She has been a self-employed artist since 1984.

In addition to participating in Art Fairs across the eastern U.S., Sharon produces work on commission for individuals, organizations and businesses such as Abbey Press and Northwest Publishing.

In order to promote the study of calligraphy, Sharon teaches at two local art centers and at The Cedar Lakes Craft Center in Ripley, WV.

She also teaches workshops for the Marietta Calligraphy Society (of which she is a Member), and for other calligraphy guilds in the Midwest.

Sharon has taught workshops to the guilds in Columbus, Ohio; Akron, Ohio; Huntington and Charleston, West Virginia; and Mansfield, Ohio.

In July of 2001, Sharon taught at the International Calligraphy Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sharon teaches various workshops at Artworks Around Town, in Wheeling, WV.

At the Watt Center for History and the Arts, Sharon had a beginning calligraphy class in April, 2015.


If your group is interested in having Sharon teach a workshop,
please check out the Classes section for suggestions of topics.
Classes can be adapted to meet the needs of the group.


peace cut s

Some of the awards and exhibitions Sharon has participated in.

BEST OF SHOW - 1995 Townhouse Gallery Juried Exhibition, Sistersville, WV

MERIT AWARD - 1995 Arts'N Apples Art Fair, Rochester, MI

Exhibited in the International Calligraphy Exhibit at the Annual Calligraphy Conference, St. Mary's, MD

Invited to participate in and Exhibition of 100 of the world's best Calligraphers sponsored by the Western Reserve Calligraphers, Cleveland, Ohio

Exhibited in The Springfield Art Association Liturgical and Sacred Art 2000 Exhibition, Springfield, Illinois

Exhibited in Fourth Presbyterian Church Response to the Holy Exhibition, 2000, Chicago, Illinois

Solo Exhibit at West Liberty State College, West Liberty, West Virginia, September 2000

Solo Exhibit, Townhouse Gallery, Sistersville WV 2001

Work accepted into the Letter Arts Review  magazine- isssues 26:2 and 26:4

A special exhibit of her work was presented at Artworks Around Town, Wheeling WV  in August 2006, and January 2015.

Solo exhibit at Delf Norona Museum in Moundsville, WV in April 2015.

There will be a joint exhibit with Lynn Anderson at the Artisan Center, Wheeling, WV, in November 2015


Sharon's artwork can be seen at various Art Festivals throughout the Midwest.

Some of the shows she has participated in are listed below.

Please see the Schedule page for a list of this year's festivals.

Invictus/master Arts 'N Apples, Rochester, MI
Black Swamp Art Festival, Bowling Green, Ohio
Broad Ripple Art Festival, Indianapolis Art Center, Indianapolis, Indiana
Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, State College, PA
Chautauqua Art Festival, Chautauqua Institute, Chautauqua, New York
Christkindl Markt,, Canton Museum of Art, Canton, OH
Columbus Winterfair, Ohio Fairgrounds, Columbus, OH
Lakewood Art Festival, Lakewood, Ohio
Guildford Art on the Square, Guilford Connecticut
Shaker Square Craft Fair, Shaker Square, Cleveland, Ohio
Stowe Foliage Festival Stowe, Vermont
Rhinebeck Art Festival Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck, New York
Talbot Street Art Fair, Talbot Street,Indianapolis, Indiana
Upper Arlington Art Festival, Upper Arlington City Park (Columbus), Ohio
Wonderful World of Ohio Mart, Akron,Ohio

Sharon's Calligraphic work is available at Artworks Around Town
Center Market, Market St., Wheeling, West Virginia


- Lively Letters - Calligraphy by Sharon Hanse
Visit the Etsy site to purchase Greeting Cards, Copper Embossed Work and Personalized Items

Wheeling, West Virginia

From November 5th through November 27th.

Opening reception:
Thursday, November 5, 2015, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.