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Cultivating a passion

Airman 1st Class Tessa Hanson, 647th Force Support Squadron services journeyman, presents her finished painting project at the Fitness Assessment Cell at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 12, 2020. Hanson completed a series of paintings at the FAC with the purpose of motivating Airmen testing during their physical fitness assessment. (Air Force photo by 2nd Lt Benjamin Aronson)

Airman 1st Class Tessa Hanson, 647th Force Support Squadron services journeyman, presents her finished painting project at the Fitness Assessment Cell at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 12, 2020. Hanson completed a series of paintings at the FAC with the purpose of motivating Airmen testing during their physical fitness assessment. (Air Force photo by 2nd Lt Benjamin Aronson)

The wall of the Fitness Assessment Cell features a series of new paintings completed by Airman 1st Class Tessa Hanson, 647th Force Support Squadron services journeyman, as part of an effort to help motivate Airmen during their physical fitness assessments at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 11, 2020. The paintings were completed while the FAC was closed due to COVID-19. (Air Force photo by 2nd Lt Benjamin Aronson)

The wall of the Fitness Assessment Cell features a series of new paintings completed by Airman 1st Class Tessa Hanson, 647th Force Support Squadron services journeyman, as part of an effort to help motivate Airmen during their physical fitness assessments at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 11, 2020. The paintings were completed while the FAC was closed due to COVID-19. (Air Force photo by 2nd Lt Benjamin Aronson)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

Although Air Force Physical Fitness Tests are postponed until April 2021, once testing resumes the Fitness Assessment Cell will welcome back Airmen with a new look.

The walls of the FAC now sport paintings by Airman 1st Class Tessa Hanson, 647th Force Support Squadron services journeyman, to brighten the testing environment for Airmen. 

“The fitness assessments are always so stressful, especially with brown and white walls,” said Master Sgt. Melissa Bennett, 647th FSS food services superintendent. “We wanted to add a little color to the environment to try to help testers relax and try to focus on other things before their test.”

The paintings by Hanson include one for JBPHH that has each letter filled with symbols of Hawaii, such as local flowers, fruit, and history. The next painting is of a Hawaiian warrior wearing a traditional mask, which honors other warriors and heroes, and the final painting is of the 15th Wing Sky Warriors emblem. 

Hanson’s leadership chose her for this opportunity after seeing a cake decoration she designed and asked if she was up to the challenge of painting emblems on the FAC walls. 

“It all started when she decorated a cake at the Hale Aina Dining Facility,” said Bennett. “Our leadership saw how talented she was and asked her, ‘what else can you draw?’”

With the physical fitness tests being delayed, Bennett saw it as an opportunity for Hanson to paint on the walls while the FAC was not in use. 

“I really got into art about seven years ago,” said Hanson. “My great-grandmother was an art teacher and continued to paint even after she retired and moved into assisted living, and my mom always did arts and crafts.”

Hanson noticed as her mother got older and her family grew, she had fewer opportunities for art. This motivated Hanson to take any opportunity that came her way to practice her passion. 

The opportunities included working on painting for the Christmas tree light up ceremony and being able to discuss her paintings and interest in art with Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Ken Wilsbach during their tour here for Thanksgiving.

“Art has been a big stepping stone of my life and helped me through some tough times,” said Hanson. “You enter the military and you don't know what the work-life balance will be so it’s not clear how much time you will have for your passions. The fact that even though I'm working I can still participate in these opportunities and be recognized is huge.”