Thursday, April 28, 2016

DPW Spotlight Interview: Elizabeth Elgin

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Elizabeth's painting, "Sun Dappled Cow" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Elizabeth's DPW Gallery:

I love to paint! Period. Although I won the annual art award my senior year in high school (long long ago), "life" got in the way of my pursuing an art career. When I turned 60 I just decided to start; to learn as best I could. I am a member of the "It's never to late to start club". Thank goodness for the internet - so many wonderful art videos available. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, when I was in high school, I had the very best art teacher, dear Mrs. Glass. She encouraged me and was the first to tell me I had something worth pursuing regarding making art. Then life happened. I always did arts and crafts, and even took some college night classes in drawing in my thirties, but seriously pursuing my artistic side didn’t happen until about six years ago.

Sun Dappled Cow

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Elizabeth's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I can’t say my painting “career” has actually started yet. I’m still in the learning stage and although my artwork does sell, thanks to DPW, I certainly can’t quit my day job. But learning is its own joy and the curve is steep when you have limited time to paint.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I started with acrylics and then moved to oils, and use both, depending upon the subject matter. Sometimes, I start with acrylics to work out the underpainting and finish with oils. I did take a few watercolor lessons and would love to do more with that as well. I love painting animals, still life, skies, water... everything really.

Goodnight Sun Take 2
(click to view)

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Watercolor, graphite drawing, colored pencil, pastels – haven’t really fallen away so much as have been put on hold while I try to improve with painting mediums.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I am currently looking forward to a workshop in May on paintings miniatures at the 1/6 scale; and then in June learning the indirect oil painting method for contemporary realism. I would like to try plein air but then I read about the heat, the wind, the bugs... maybe not.

Ladybug Ladybug
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

Ah, the inter-webs. I love to look at the artists of both the past and present; my difficulty is that I love all different styles. There’s an ‘x factor’ in some art that just hits you, like your mind has met the artist’s mind and that painting moves you in some way. And not even all the art from that same artist will hit you. So I can’t explain it. When you see it, you suck wind for a second. There is no lack of inspiration to be found, from art to nature; from the way the sunlight shines through the window, to the way my dog looks at me.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I love ‘starts’. Blocking in a new painting when the idea is so fresh in my mind. Then comes problem solving... losing steam and confidence that I can finish... I sometimes have to set a painting aside for weeks, months, sometimes a year, until I feel I might be able to bring it to conclusion. But procrastination in finishing sometimes pays off. Often the problem that needed solving gets answered in a course I happen to take, or a blog I’ve read online. But I have lots of ‘starts’ sitting around. Sometimes I just have to decide it’s just a no-go and trash it.

Breakfast Reflections
(click to view)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Actually, I need a technique to ensure that I make time for housekeeping and cooking and doing laundry as my art imposes on those things. Those things slide, not my art time. As I still work full time, I often am too tired at night to paint. If I do paint on weeknights, the problem is I get excited and keep going and suddenly it’s 1:00 am and my morning alarm is set for 5:30. So mostly I really focus on my weekend time slots and look forward to it all week.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

This is funny to me. I see people on Facebook ask “I want to paint but what should I paint?” My problem is the opposite: how in the world can I ever paint all the things I want to paint? The availability on the internet of copyright free reference photos is massive, so the ideas are never-ending. Something catches my eye, or moves me in some way; I ‘see it’ in my mind as a painting, and have a little excitement inside to see it executed. Sometimes it even works out.

Lilacs in Copper
(click to view)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

I just finished two classes at The Compass Atelier, oil painting and mastering color. Color mixing, seeing values, seeing subtle color shifts, warm vs. cool, those basics I need to learn to get the results I want. Also, we see so much these days about ‘painting loose’ and I have tried to pursue that but I’m not sure it’s really in my Virgo-detail-oriented nature. I took an online course and the instructor posted two paintings, one very loose and painterly, and one almost hyper-realistic. He was trying to make the point that the loose style was more appealing, but I kept looking at the realistic one and thinking... maybe not – for me. So I’m taking a class in June with Cindy Procious in traditional methods of indirect painting in realism. Those are the type of paintings that take my breath away, so I want to pursue that this year. So one thing I’m learning is what is the style that I really like, and not to let others ‘should’ all over me. Someday maybe I’ll have ‘my style’.

Garuda Aviary Fundraiser - Sir Winston
(click to view)

What makes you happiest about your art?

When I get a note from someone who has purchased my art, or commissioned a pet portrait, and the painting has really moved them. I’ve had people tell me “Oh, your chickens brought back such fond memories of my grandma’s farm”, or even that they cried when they got their pet portrait in the mail. Those are the moments you feel, ah, the struggle is worth it.

Thanks, Elizabeth!

© 2016 Sophie Marine

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