We were so thrilled to reconnect recently with the one and only Elizabeth Stockton. We worked together a few years ago and it's been a treat to catch up with her and resume our lovely professional relationship with her.
"Come on over," Elizabeth invited us a couple weeks ago. "You can see what I've been up to and pick your choices right off my walls." OMG. You can't imagine how fun it is to visit an artist, see them in their natural, creative habitat - and literally point to a painting on the wall and say, "that one would be perfect."
Elizabeth's such a pro: she's candid and forthcoming about her professional journey (all artists can relate to that!); she's generous with her work; and, bless her, she meticulously photographs and documents all her work, making our job much easier.
And oh, the places her artistic talent has taken her since we last worked together! She's mastered the landscape, waterscape and seascape, all rendered in her rather precise, exacting and unmistakable way. Now she's dabbling in lots of other areas, all of which are exciting and fresh.
Along the way, we asked her a few questions to see what's making her tick these days:
HHFA: Tell us a little bit about your primary inspirations: nature plays a large part, we can tell.
ES: Definitely nature, and specifically the horizon line. I’m constantly experimenting with so many different ideas but I always seem to come back to that dividing line between earth and sky --whether it’s a landscape or an abstract. And color. I studied color theory at UGA and at the Art Students League of New York. The way colors interact with each other is fascinating to me.
HHFA: we love watching an artist morph and change. To us, that symbolizes artistic and creative growth. Tell us about your latest series of work which seems rooted in the past - but completely turned upside down.
ES: I have always loved, and studied, typography. The attraction to bold graphic images stems from my former life as a graphic designer. I wanted to create paintings with my favorite poems, quotes and messages but didn't want them to be so familiar. So I started repeating the prose in layers. Intentionally illegible, these paintings beg deciphering. The positive prose has energy and the end result has an interesting rhythm and mysteriousness.
HHFA: Explain the “deconstruction" of your landscapes and waterscapes. We find them very interesting and intriguing...and we feel like there's a story there!
ES: the ‘’disquieted nature’’ series evolved when two of my painting styles collided. I started adding tape to my landscapes to create a border, a composition very much like a large mat around the art.
I was delighted with the outcome but the evolution did not stop there. One day I was removing the tape and it pulled up some of the layers of paint off. I was disappointed, then intrigued.
I scraped more paint over and around this painting. I had long been struggling with artistically addressing the climate crisis. The jarring interruption over the peaceful landscape created an interesting juxtaposition. To me, some of the paintings in this series turn out to be very peaceful, and others speak to the human destruction of the environment. However, the viewer sees what they see. I am happy with whatever interpretation that may be.
HHFA: What kind of media do you use? How do you achieve some of the visual effects on canvas?
ES: I almost always work in oil, on canvas, wood or paper. I repeatedly layer the oil on the surface and allow it to dry between applications before I really start to address my intentions. I use very soft brushes to create a smooth iridescent patina and harder brushes and palette knives for texture.
Sometimes I use cardboard to scrape paint, usually for an abstract. I never know exactly how the scraped paint will look. When it works, it’s a wonderful surprise. When it doesn’t, it’s so disappointing because the surface has to be layered again, time is lost, and expectations dashed.
But in the end, adding another layer creates an even more interesting surface.
Cocktails. This is a "blind contour" painting that we are obsessed with!
HHFA: Tell us a little bit about your artist day, workspace and physical inspiration.
ES: My home/studio was added around 1998. It has large windows that look out into the woods, a huge custom-made wall easel, and a little fireplace. It’s my sanctuary. I typically wake up early, get coffee, get to work. Inspiration comes of working, not waiting on the muse.
I try to keep “business hours” to be in sync with my family, finishing up around 5:00. But, if I’m on a roll or a deadline, my husband will bring me dinner and encourage the work. He also makes me a lot of truly wonderful music mixes but I typically like my studio time to be quiet.
HHFA: what's your favorite place to recharge and why?
ES: I’m an introvert, and a homebody. I like to “piddle” around my house and yard. I like to arrange plants, flowers and anything I can clip from my yard including herbs, hydrangea, quince, blueberry branches. I also like to arrange fruit and use it as part of the decor. I love to travel whenever I have the chance. Around town, I visit galleries, antique/thrift stores, garage sales and I’m crazy about a good hardware store.
HHFA: Favorite art museum and why?
ES: DIA Beacon
, Beacon NY. My first opportunity to visit was on a field trip for the resident artists at the Art Students League of NY. The building itself is beautiful, almost magical. It’s a former Nabisco box-printing factory situated on the banks of the Hudson river. The ceilings soar and light floods through north-facing skylights.
Dia Beacon, New York
It has 240,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than that of New York City’s Guggenheim, Whitney and Museum of Modern Art combined. It exhibits monumental works (many seldom, if ever, seen in public) each in its own enormous space. This, along with the natural light, makes viewing each artist exhibit an extraordinarily wonderful experience. The contemporary collection of art spans from the 1960s to the present and includes John Chamberlain, Cy Twombly, Dan Flavin, Louise Bourgeois, Gerhard Richter, Fred Sandback, Agnes Martin, and Richard Serra, just to name a few. About an hour north of NYC. Run don’t walk! (HHFA: we are on our way!)
HHFA: You get to invite three artists (living or not) for a little party. Who are you inviting, what are you serving and what do you think you’ll be talking about?
ES: 1. My father, Jack Niles (1928-1981). He was a real character right out of Mad Men as he was an extremely talented art director. But he was an equally talented fine artist. I adored him— his mentoring, talent, style, street smarts and unwavering sense of self. I also feared him, although he was kind and gentle, he was a fiercely independent FORCE who answered to no one and was not to be trifled with. He died suddenly when I was in college. Naturally, there is so much I would like to learn from him.
Elizabeth's father, Jack Niles.
2. Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) American Abstract Expressionist painter, printmaker, and editor. Presently one of my very favorite artists. He was the youngest of an informal group of New York artists of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s know as The New York School. His father insisted that he have a formal degree to fall back on if his art career failed. Ha!I I love his intuitive paintings, their genuineness. I appreciate his keen sensibility for space and color. And I’m in awe of his restraint. His art looks minimalist but evokes deep emotion.
3. Kara Walker. Living American Contemporary Artist. Painter, printmaker, installation artist, filmmaker and professor. Her father is also an iconic artist, Larry Walker, who lives in Atlanta. She is best known for her room size black cut paper silhouettes. Her work explores race, gender, sexuality and identity. I’m drawn to her thoughtful work and fresh approach to the silhouette. Kara explains, “the silhouette says a lot with very little information, but that’s also what the stereotype does”.
If these three were coming to a little party at my house, I would hope to discuss art, artists, process, and the human condition.
And here's my menu, starting with my signature cocktail.
In a short glass, mix the following:
1 large square lemonade ice cube
2 ounces of Baston del Rey Anejo Tequila
Fresh lime wedge on oversized toothpick
Pinch of kosher salt, in the drink, not on rim
And my menu would be:
Green Olive Cheese Puffs (my mother's recipe)
Shrimp Cocktail (with very spicy horseradish sauce and Premium saltines)
Key Lime Pie
HHFA: Elizabeth, we want to come to your artist dinner party - it sounds like such an interesting and delicious time. We're so delighted to have your work back with us at the gallery and we love hearing how you've changed, grown and morphed as an artist. Welcome back!
Please come by and see Elizabeth's work at the gallery - and if you're not local, check it all out here.
We think your curiosity will be piqued and all your senses delighted when you feast your eyes on Elizabeth's work.