Congratulations to our April 2016 Artist of the Month, Elizabeth Barlow! Elizabeth was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! Her piece Hers is seen below. Read more about the artists process and how having an artist for a father helped shape her own creative vision.
Pebble Beach, CA ~ elizabethbarlowart.com
My father, Philip Barlow, is an artist, so I grew up drawing, living with art in our family home, and visiting galleries. His influence was profound, but I also received a post-baccalaureate certificate in visual arts at the University of California, Berkeley and studied at the Art Students League in New York.
I paint in oil on linen. For the past five years I’ve been creating what I call “portraits in absentia.” They are a fusion of still life and portraiture. I use objects, or someone’s belongings, to create a visual biography—or a portrait in absentia. Lovingly chosen objects can reveal much about a person’s story—about choices made, paths taken, values and beliefs.
Hers is part of a diptych commissioned by a young, dynamic couple with lots of personal style and flair. I created “his and hers” portraits using their fantastic and highly curated shoe collection. It was a joy capturing their playful and adventuresome spirits using their shoes!
I begin by selecting the objects. This is a long process because I’m looking for things that are poetic in both form and symbolism. Then I spend many hours playing with the objects—searching for a composition that resonates with me. Lighting is also very important in my compositions; I spend many hours looking for light and shadows that have life in them. Once all of this is found—and it may have taken a week or so—I photograph the composition for reference. After that I sketch directly onto the canvas and begin the journey with paint!
Hers was a standard process for me: I spent about a week with the shoes, playing with the arrangement and looking for a joyful composition to reflect the fun and flair of my client. Then I spent about three weeks sketching and painting. My favorite part was when I nailed the snakeskin shoe in the upper right. I thought it was going to be tough but it was easy. I also loved glazing the shadows, they have their own personalities and are important elements in the painting.
I believe that art can inspire, transform and transcend the busyness of our lives. I want to share something of beauty that I hope will add great joy to someone’s world. I’m grateful to my father for showing me how to live and see as an artist, and to my teachers (hello Donald Bradford!), artist friends, and my heroes, Vermeer, O’Keeffe, Sargent, Rothko, among others, for their constant inspiration.
When I first started taking art classes, my father said, “Always sit next to the best artist in the class.” Seeing great art keeps me striving to grow and The Artist’s Magazine is filled with great art by great artists.