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Tim Hanley: The nomad artist

Tim Hanley

Art Therapy By Donna Hope Blas

I met this artist in the early 1990s. Eeeks. That sounds like a long time ago. He was a boat captain. A mutual artist friend of ours invited me to join them on a boat trip. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to fellowship with accomplished artists. It was an honor for me to join them.

Since this artist was a boat captain, it was not a surprise that his art was fishy, err, fish-related. His art was inspired by a painting style that has been in Japan for over a hundred years. It’s called Gyotaku.

In Japan, the fishermen would take Sumi ink and apply it to one side of the fish and press it on rice paper. This helped them keep track of the fish they caught.

Avast me jolly mates! Meet the cap’n o’ the ship, Tim Hanley!

It was somewhat of a celebratory boat time for my artist friends as Tim had just been commissioned by the Guam Hilton Hotel for his Gyotaku artwork.

As a child, he moved a lot. Hence, the nomad artist. Tim was born in Northern Maine. Since then, he lived in New Hampshire, Vermont and then California.

His first memories of art are from his third-grade drawing and coloring experiences. Growing up in the 1960s, he was exposed to art that came from television, comic books, magazines and the Sunday paper’s comics. Later on, he discovered DC & Marvel comics as well as Mad Magazine.

From California, his family moved to Iran, and then to Thailand, before he turned 10. While overseas, the intricate art of the mosques and Buddhist temples made a huge impression on him. “Still, it wasn’t until my teens that I began to draw even sporadically, and didn’t think much of professional art,” Tim said.

In his late teens while in high school, Tim produced art-filled essays and reports mostly collaged from magazines and drawn comics.

In 1972, at the age of 17, he came to Guam and became an official “islander.” Yes, a John F. Kennedy High School graduate. Go Islanders!

Still, for him, art wasn’t a major concentration. In his 20s, Tim became involved in the boating scene on Guam with MYC Yacht Club in Agana Boat Basin and sailing in Apra Harbor.

He and his friends went into the commercial fishing business through the mentorship of a professional Japanese-Hawaiian deep-water bottom fisherman.

They built a “monster” 65 ft. steel boat. To this day it is still one of the biggest boats built on Guam.

In the 1980s, while sailing and working, he did a charter with some Japanese folks who showed him the art of Gyotaku. This is where the anchor hits the ocean floor. They did actual printing with black ink on real fish to record their catch. And that’s how his art journey truly began.

Tim is a self-taught multimedia artist. He studies the natural beauty of the tropical environment. His craft is perfected. His ocean sceneries are by far my favorite of his work.


In 2009, Tim began exploring digital art, specializing in portrait drawings. I was blessed to have him make one for me. Tim Hanley is truly a gift to Guam as he documents on canvas our island’s natural beauty.

His artwork can be seen at the Lees-Reyes Art Gallery at the Tumon Sands Plaza in Tumon and also at the Guam Gallery of Art at Chamorro Village. You can follow Tim Hanley on Instagram: t_f_hanley or email him directly:

Donna Hope Blas is a restoration and 3-D artist. She is a certified therapeutic art life coach and entrepreneur. She was born and raised on Guam. Send feedback to

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