Jeff's Story

ARTIST. PHILANTHROPIST. ENTREPRENEUR.

Jeff Hanson (1993-2020) was an award-winning, philanthropic artist on a mission to change the world through art. Visually impaired since childhood from neurofibromatosis type 1 and an optic chiasm brain tumor (playfully named CLOD), Jeff’s acrylic-on-canvas works employed bold color and heavily sculptured texture to create an unmistakable signature style–”a sight for sore eyes,” he called it.

Explore the life of Jeff Hanson

Changing the World Through Art

Jeff Hanson

One Million Dollars by 20
10 Million Dollars by 30

Self-taught as an artist, Jeff first began painting watercolor notecards while undergoing chemotherapy at age 12. What was initially a pastime and distraction from his treatments, Jeff’s painting soon evolved into a curbside business, Jeff’s Bistro. Proceeds benefited the Children’s Tumor Foundation to fund optic tumor research.

Jeff’s original notecards gradually transitioned to acrylics-on-canvas, both for sale and gifts to charity live auctions across the nation. At age 15, the “accidental artist” in a business built on a philanthropy-first model, became Jeffrey Owen Hanson LLC.

Jeff received national attention for raising $1 million for charity with his art by his 20th birthday. As of 2020, at age 27, Jeff raised more that $7 million for charity.

Jeff’s new goal was to raise $10 million for charity by age 30. Jeff’s parents, Hal and Julie, and the Jeff Hanson Art studio plan to continue fundraising for charity to achieve Jeff’s dream.

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Raised for Charity

Focus on what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T do!

While Jeff enjoed a very successful career as an artist, his philanthropic spirit has resulted in more than 200 non-profit organizations benefiting from his auctioned works. Jeff has been awarded both Young Philanthropist of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for his efforts. He was a People magazine “Hero Among Us” and appeared on CNN’s “Impact Your World.” In 2015, Hanson was honored by The NASCAR Foundation with the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award and his inspirational story was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning. Jeff’s paintings now hang in the homes of art collectors across the globe, including Sir Elton John, Warren E. Buffett, John Cena, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and many others touched by Jeff’s generous soul and unique style.

Jeff’s remarkable journey through adversity is summarized by his slogan, “Don’t let your CLOD define you!” Focus on what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T do! Jeff Hanson has become defined by art, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship. Not by CLOD. Not “the kid who lost his vision to a brain tumor.”

Jeff Hanson’s core belief embodies his spirit of giving.

“Every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all – even one painting at a time.” – Jeff Hanson

Remembering Jeff Hanson

Jeff Hanson

Once in a great while, a life-force collides with yours, sending you careening off on a new and unexpected trajectory. That is what happened to parents Hal and Julie Hanson on September 30, 1993.

Jeffrey Owen Hanson (1993-2020) departed this earth on December 20, 2020, repainting Heaven with a vibrant palette of colors—but not before sharing his contagious smile, generous heart and colorful fingerprints on everything he touched.

Born with a genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis, Jeff became visually impaired from a brain tumor (playfully named CLOD) at age 12. But it was during therapy for that tumor that the accidental artist developed a passion for painting, as well as philanthropy. He “just wanted to give back.”

Despite his low vision, Jeff began painting note cards and selling them at a driveway bake sale, “Jeff’s Bistro.” Proceeds were donated to The Children’s Tumor Foundation. Notecards gradually transitioned to acrylics on canvas, and the self-taught artist developed his heavily textured, boldly colored signature style. By age 15, Jeff incorporated his art business, and employed his parents as assistants—unexpected new careers for the emergency physician and marketer parents, Hal and Julie.

Jeff began donating some of his paintings to live charity auctions across the country, with his mission to “change the world through art.” By age 20, Jeff made national headlines when his artwork generated $1 million for charity. And upon his death, at age 27, Jeff had generated $6.5 million for over 200 charities and was on track to give $10 million by age 30. Jeff believed “every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all—even one painting at a time.”

God had other plans for Jeff’s artistic talents and benevolence, however, when a new brain tumor, diagnosed in October 2020, quickly took his life.

Jeff lived his entire life in Overland Park, KS, and had no formal art training. He attended Overland Trail elementary school in the Blue Valley school district. He transferred to the Kansas State School for the Blind in sixth grade. Jeff attended high school at Horizon Academy in Roeland Park, KS, graduating in 2012.

While Jeff enjoyed a very successful career as an artist, his philanthropic spirit drew even more attention. Jeff was awarded both Young Philanthropist of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for his efforts. He was a People magazine “Hero Among Us” and appeared on CNN’s “Impact Your World.” In 2011, Jeff won Prudential’s coveted National Spirit of Community Award, for outstanding community service. In 2015, the NASCAR Foundation honored Jeff with the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, and his inspirational story was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning.

Elton John with Julie and Jeff Hanson

Jeff’s art and philanthropy have caught the attention of many high-profile friends. A wonderful example was meeting Sir Elton John on his Make A Wish night, during treatment for CLOD, at age 14. Rather than ask for something, Jeff handed Elton a check for $1000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation—money earned selling note cards. An astonished Elton reciprocated with a $5000 donation to the Children’s Tumor Foundation and a first-class trip to a concert in Dubai for Jeff and his parents—part of that new and unexpected trajectory.

Jeff’s paintings hang in the homes of art collectors across the globe, including Sir Elton, Warren E. Buffett, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., John Cena and countless others touched by Jeff’s philanthropic soul and unique style.

Jeffrey Owen Hanson lived by the motto: Don’t let your CLOD define you! Jeff did not want to be known as “the kid down the street with low vision and a brain tumor.” He wanted to be defined as “the kid who gave a million dollars to charity.” He said, “We all have challenges. It’s not the challenge, but rather your response to the challenge that defines you.”

On a more personal note, Jeff was most happy when simply visiting with friends or traveling with his parents. He could not drive a car due to low vision, but loved to just ride along. “You be the wheels, I’ll pay the meals,” he would say. He loved cruises, big hotels and fast food. He always said he had “Gucci taste with a McDonalds palate.” Jeff loved trinkets, fidgets, all stuffed animals, especially Ramone the bear, girls, and a “McDouble Plain, large fries, extra crispy and a large Diet Coke, no ice.” Jeff loved anything purple and said he lived “the purple driven life.” The painting’s not done until the purple goes on!

In addition to his “business partner” parents, Hal and Julie, left to celebrate Jeff’s extraordinary rollercoaster life are his grandfather, Darold Swanson of Red Oak, IA, his honorary grandparents Rob and Debbie Givens, his beloved cousin Heather (“sissy”) Swanson Long, honorary aunt and uncle Colleen and Curt Czupka, Godparents Kirk and Jerra Swanson, and numerous other aunts, uncles and cousins across the nation. Jeff also leaves behind more than 20,000 social media friends and fans around the world that we won’t name here. Jeff was preceded in death by his grandmother, Beverly Swanson, of Red Oak, IA, and grandparents, Harold and Helen Hanson of McCallsburg, IA.

The family requests memorial donations to the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

The Hanson family has been deeply touched by the public tributes and many people who have shared the unique ways Jeff’s art and story have impacted their lives and altered their trajectory. The family finds great comfort in knowing that Jeff’s personal mission to “change the world through art,” was indeed accomplished! Well done, our extraordinary and loving son! Your work here is finished!

Learn more about Artist Jeff Hanson's inspiring journey...

Lessons From CLOD, a book about Jeff’s triumphs through adversity, is available here.

19 Responses

  1. I am working for a not for profit Nursing facility in Olathe, KS: Villa St Francis. We are doing a first ever dinner and auction to support the immense amount of money that is not covered by Medicaid and insurance. Please let me know how we request a piece of your art for this auction. Thanks! Jean Hinman

  2. Hi Jeff…
    In my continued search of your website, I noticed a mention of your “Art from the HeART Valentine project”.
    Is it too late to nominate one of my favorite charities? If that is the case, I would like to nominate our local philharmonic orchestra leader’s project teaching violin to children in the communitywho otherwise would never have the opportunity to either play, or receive musical training. As our politicians co tinue to reduce school budgets , art and music are Tao programs that suffer. As our maestro continually tells us, learning music helps to develop math skills for children. It is a form of art that all children from 5 up have been successful. We ask for donations for this program every year in order to increase the number of children offered this program.

    If you are still taking nominations, please let me know and I will send you all the information about this program.
    Thank you, and please keep up the beautiful painting! I still plan on buying one,
    Bless all you have and are doing,
    Peggy Olson

    1. Good Morning From Jeff Hanson Art
      Hello Peggy-
      Thank you for your recent inquiry of my “Art From the HeART” Valentine project. It returns February 1, 2019.
      At the beginning of February, I will be taking nominations of organizations who have live charity auctions.
      At age 12, I began donating my artwork to charity events. To date, my artwork has generated over $4.5 million dollars on live auctions across the nation. For example, some of the organizations I have helped include: Children’s Hospitals, Make-A-Wish, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, American Heart Association and many more.
      Thanks again for reaching out!
      Jeff Hanson
      JeffHansonArt.com
      Jeff@JeffHansonArt.com

  3. Hi Jeff,
    I come back to your site continually since first discovering your Dad’s book. Has he done an update so your fans can keep up with new paintings and styles? Also your fans are curious about how your funds are growing.

    I am still trying to figure out how to add one of your paintings to my collection. My husband, now deceased, painted some beautiful florals and I have pocked one of yours to go with his.

    Keep up the beautiful work and continue to live your life in the extraordinary fashion of a committed philanthropist.

    My prayers are with you,
    Peggy Olson

  4. Jeff, ur story is so inspiring. I would love to know how or where to but one of ur paintings. I love supporting artist with a vision and a selfless goal like yours. I don’t know if I could afford one, but I would like to try. Love ur story and all the color u paint with. BEAUTIFUL WORK!

    1. Greetings from Jeff Hanson Art
      Hello Andrea-
      Thank you for your kind words! I am thrilled to hear you like my artwork. You must like COLOR and TEXTURE!!
      My original paintings and canvas prints are available on my website GALLERY and SHOP at JeffHansonArt.com
      Many clients opt to commission a painting, which another option.
      I am happy to answer your questions by email or phone.
      Jeff@JeffHansonArt.com
      913-681-6456

  5. Hi Jeff,

    I am absolutely thrilled to hear about your philanthropic accomplishments and future goals! Your tireless energy and commitment to others are so inspiring! I would call myself a fan of your incredible work – and owning an original Jeff Hanson painting is at the very top of my “bucket list!” In the meantime, I have purchased a set of your handpainted note cards which are displayed in frames in my apartment. Is that cheating?

    I’ve seen you blossom from a gregarious young teen into the formidable artist and gentleman you are now. One thing has been consistent; your talent and your work. What you do is very unique, like you, and awe inspiring. I might add, your parents are to be commended for their complete appreciation and support, which have surely been instrumental to your success to date.

    Please add me to your mailing lists so I can be informed of your upcoming events. I am also interested in doing volunteer work if you ever need help. (I have 15 years’ experience in the fundraising department of a major nonprofit charity.) Please let me know if I can do anything to help your cause.

    I can hardly wait to see where your career takes you next!

    Your fan and friend,

    Vicki

    1. Greetings from Jeff Hanson Art
      Hello Vicki-
      WOW! What kind words. Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding my artwork and philanthropic endeavors.
      My artwork evolves constantly. It is easy for me to come up with new creations in the studio.
      However, my philanthropic endeavors require lots of work and love for others. The greatest days on this Earth are those spent helping others. I say, “Generosity begets generosity.”
      My core belief is “Every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all … even one painting at a time.”
      Mother Teresa’s quote, “Small things done with great love change the world” is how I want to live my life.
      I hope you will come visit my new Jeff Hanson Art Gallery & Studio some day.
      Thanks again for making my day!
      Jeff Hanson

  6. Jeff, I just received my packet of Mediterranean in Bloom note cards and extra Notepad. I love them both. Thanks so much for the notepad. It was all packed so nicely for shipping so there was no damage. Thanks for mailing it right away.Delores Stafforf

    1. Greetings from Jeff Hanson Art
      Hi Delores-
      Thank you for your kind message. I am thrilled to hear your note cards and note pad arrived in mint condition.
      Enjoy sharing my art and story with your family and friends!
      Be sure to plan a visit to the Jeff Hanson Art studio and gallery in Overland Park, KS one day soon.
      All My Best,
      Jeff Hanson

  7. I read your father’s book and was so impressed by you and your family. You Jeff are the personification of Jesus’s disciples…
    you carry His message of “Love one another” with what you do and how you do it. Keep up the blessed work and you will make your philanthropic target by 21! Prayers go with you,

    1. Greetings from Jeff Hanson Art
      Hi Peggy-
      Thank you for reading “Lessons From CLOD.” I am thrilled to hear you enjoyed the book.
      Continue to following my art journey via my website, Facebook and Instagram.
      Happy May Day!
      Jeff

  8. Jeff, my wife and I purchased one of your paintings tonight at the JA gala in Houston. Although we didn’t get the one we really liked, we are excited about the one you will create for us. The flowers remind us so much of the blue bonnets and Indian Paintbrush we see along the Texas highways this time of year! You are a talented young man and you do so much for charity. It was a pleasure meeting you tonight
    Chad Deaton

    1. Hi James-
      Thank you for supporting the Jr. Achievement SE Texas gala. It was a fabulous event. And, of course I am thrilled my artwork generated $66,000 (plus $1,000 for my cummerbund and bow tie)!
      Continue to follow my art and philanthropic endeavors on my website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
      Thanks for all you do!
      Jeff Hanson

  9. You are just getting more amazing as you create more works. Love is winning…….
    Peace and love
    Di Zimmer

    1. Di- Thank you for your kind words. It is important for me to constantly be creating and trying new concepts. From the experimenting comes new paintings.
      Regarding philanthropy, one thing I know for sure…Generosity begets generosity. As Elton John said to me, “Jeff, if you give to the world, the world will give back.”

  10. I saw two of your paintings hanging in the Teen Room on Henson four at Children’s Mercy Downtown earlier this week while taking a tour. And, today a friend introduced me to your “Art From the HeART” Valentine project where I can nominate my favorite charity to receive one of your paintings for a live auction. I think those two coincidences are meaningful! And, from what I’ve read so far, I’m proud to join the ranks as a fan of you and your work! Bless you for what you are doing as a philanthropist and also as an inspiration to others – you ARE an inspiration!

    Blessings,
    Maria

    1. Maria-
      Thank you for your nice note.
      The paintings in the Children’s Mercy Hospital (CMH) Teen Room are titled “Lost in Lasagna” and “Neon Noodles.” I gifted a collection of 30 paintings to CMH oncology clinic titled “Summer Vacation.” In the CMH executive board room, you will find a triptych titled “Playground in Provence.”
      I am so excited about my annual “Art From the HeART” Valentine project. This year I decided to donate paintings to the first and second place winners, Sammy’s Superheroes Foundation (Columbus, NE) and Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation (Bethesda, MD). “Art From the HeART” kicks off annually on February 1.

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