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  • Stashia Smyrichinsky

Interview with Eleanor Erskine

1. What was the first thing that informed / inspired you to know that you wanted and/or needed to become a maker?

I remember as a child making xmas ornaments, painting and drawing inside on rainy days, I just loved making stuff more than anything. It was both mystery and magic. It was a moving meditation I understood early in life. I am grateful my mother supported it, even though she did not understand art at all!

2. What environment helps you focus to create art?

Low light, quiet and warmth….plus loose clothing is ideal. But I think the environment that helps me the most is instead of a physical place, it is rather “a state of mind”. Often, I have to begin working to get to that place in my mind that allows me to arrive at a working place where the making process hums. This means working under sometimes fewer desirable conditions. In other words, I do not wait for perfect conditions, maybe I do not believe in perfect conditions. I work anyway, either way. Most often I am able to find something stimulating simply from doing rather than from doing too much thinking first. If I wait for the perfect time or circumstances often, I have found it too is interrupted by something seemingly more important that needs to “get done”. The one thing that makes this approach work for me is that my studio is always available with all kinds of pencils tools and paper to walk in and simply begin making….a mark that becomes sometimes, more often than not = something relevant.

3. How do you curate your color stories for your work, and do you have any favorite colors you find yourself being drawn to frequently?

Color to me is emotion. It is a great way to express feelings and set up spacial relationships. The color is layered which I hope brings a richness to the surface of the work and also creates a depth that when one is close to the works subtle nuances get revealed. Getting to the color that says the most to me in the work is a process of nurturing, layering, bathing the paper, and slowly building the surfaces through drawing. The ongoing effort is a great challenge. It is time consuming (nurturing effort) to get the finished space where any one piece works as a “whole”.

4. When composing multiple layers, do you plan out how they will interact with each other or do you work intuitively?

Yes and no.

I prefer to allow for chance to interfere with my intentions and also to allow for wiggle room in the process. The activity of the work is highly intuitive and really based on a kind of deep visual listening that is most significant on how the work develops. I like to think of this methodology as a dialogue between me and the work as it happens.

5. How do you balance the delicate dance between representational and abstract figures in your work?

I am not sure I do! We ( as people) are always informed greater by what we already know and understand. Making art I believe is about breaking out of this predictable reality and moving into a place where the mind, eye and heart or body and soul are challenged to see what we do not know or understand immediately. I like the place where we may need to stop to think twice to understand things, prying us to look at something under a different light, from a new perspective. This is where transformation happens. This is where greater understanding begins to happen and why I believe Art and artmaking are truly important.


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