Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Elizabeth Patterson - Artist of Distinction

Elizabeth Patterson is an Artist of Distinction in Still Point Art Gallery's current show, Still Point II. Each of the three pieces she submitted for this exhibition is wonderful! Each is such a unique and original composition...who else has drawn both pattypan squash and zinnias on a lovely china plate? Each of Patterson's pieces is masterfully done...note the detail on the crocheted edging, the pizelles, and the zinnias...also note the artist's attention to light and shadow. Also, each of Patterson's pieces is beautiful and engaging to view...they seem poetic and musical as well as artistic...as if several muses visited the artist to inspire and sustain her creativity.

Zinnia, Parsley and Pattypan; Pizelle on a Pedestal; Waiting

Patterson was very generous in offering some insights into her art and her life as an artist. First, I asked her to say something about each of the pieces in the exhibition.
Zinnia, Parsley and Pattypan is one of my favorite types of still-life: one that features things from my garden and my home. I enjoy the process of choosing elements that have never been grouped together before, and this one was especially fun to do. The pattypan squash begged to be drawn, and there was quite a progression of potential partners tried out before this set-up was chosen. The final, pink, palette was a surprise, even to me!
In Pizzelle On A Pedestal, I am using familiar items. Two blue pitchers and an antique linen cloth with crocheted lace trim from my grandmother's collections are placed atop an old pedestal table. The 'pizzelle', Italian cookies similar to waffles, were made with my grandmother's pizzella iron. I liked how the cookies relate to the lace, and I liked the variety of textures: the softly rumpled cloth with weighty lace trim, shiny ceramics, and delicately crisp cookies. Having personal connections to my still life subjects turn these pieces literally into labors of love.
In the portrait, Waiting, my subject's posture and hands are as important as his face in portraying a likeness. This pose was completely natural, as he was waiting for me to finish setting up my camera. When I looked up and saw him, I just snapped a picture, even though I hadn't yet shut off my flash, as I intended. I didn't want to lose the moment! Sure enough, when I tried to recreate it with my choice of lighting, it simply was not as good. I loved playing up the luminosity of his skin and hair, while keeping other elements more simple.

Christine Cote: From where do you draw your inspiration for your work? How do go about creating a piece? What is your process?
I am constantly inspired by ordinary things that I see each day. You could say that I am bombarded with inspiration! From the way the morning light hits a vase on my dresser as I'm waking, to the bowls and utensils in my kitchen, to a bud or a leaf or a flower outside my door, to the faces I encounter, to the vegetables in the supermarket, inspiration is never-ending.

I might just like the shape or color of an object, or the texture of its surface, and try many different groupings and lighting to create a still life that shows the beauty that I see.

With portraits, though, I usually work from photographs that I take, one of the most important goals is to have a pose and expression that the subject could have actually sat for... comfortable, relaxed, and content.

I am working right now almost exclusively with colored pencil on Pastelbord (a sandpaper-like surfaced board). The pencils can be applied strongly, for a solid block of color, or more lightly in layers, giving an effect similar to glazing with paint. The sanded texture allows light colors to be applied on top of dark ones, and also gives me the choice of letting that texture show, or not.

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Artist's Statement

My work springs from the joy I find in beholding beauty. The beauty I am drawn to seems to invariably contain some common elements. Full and rounded organic shapes are always predominant, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral. Hence, a child's chubby cheek, a ripe tomato, and a plump vintage teapot are all very likely to catch my eye. Varied, transient fluctuations of light and color convey a sense of energy that I find irresistible. So, ordinary things such as time-worn objects and textiles, skin and hair touched by the sun, semi-transparent flower petals, or a simple glass of water offer worlds of possibilities to me.

Colored pencil on a sand-textured board is currently my media combination of choice. Unlike many colored pencil artists, my style is not photo-realistic, but more what might be called selective focus. I will very finely finish certain areas, where my eye wants to concentrate, and let other areas show their looser, sketchy pencil marks for what they are. A colored pencil piece can sometimes be mistaken for an oil or pastel painting, but I like to be able to see, on close inspection, that it is indeed done with colored pencil. When I see in my work: convincing surfaces on the selected forms, along with a real sense of the emotions which prompted me to create the piece, it is done.

Looking at my finished work, I still feel the little internal tugs of excitement that I felt as I began each one. It is a real joy, which is compounded when others feel it too.


Elizabeth Patterson is a lifelong artist who grew up in Burlington, Massachusetts. Her efforts were encouraged by her wonderful, creative family and an exceptional art department at Burlington High School.  She went on to study at Massachusetts College of Art and the University of Southern Maine.

Through the years, portraiture has been one constant for Elizabeth, having completed hundreds of likenesses in pencil, colored pencil, or pastel for happy clients all over New England and beyond. She has also done extensive illustration and design work, calling on her painting and drawing skills to create art for stationery, home decor products, and the catalog and print industries. As most of her work was commissioned or commercial, she decided in her fifties that it was time for her own art.

Now, Elizabeth enjoys interpreting the beauty, joy, and elegance she finds in her everyday world through her current favorite medium of colored pencil. Whether a gathering of objects called together as a still life, a glimpse of nature, the grace of a figure, or a unique face... she treats each subject as a loving portrait of a moment in time.

Elizabeth and her husband, Wayne, live in Hollis Center, Maine. They have three grown sons, and four grandchildren.

Zinnia, Parsley and Pattypan (20x20), colored pencil on pastelbord, framed $925
Pizelle on a Pedestal (23x27), colored pencil on pastelbord, framed $1950
Waiting (18x18), colored pencil on pastelbord, framed $825

Return to Still Point Art Gallery

Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
April 7, 2010

1 comment:

  1. I really like the say boy! AWW why is he sad, might have done something wrong and is told off and has a time out.