Interview with Abstract Expressionist Elizabeth Chapman

Posted January 11 2013

Missouri artist Elizabeth Chapman always had art in her life but it took many years for her to realize that she herself wanted to pursue paint, line and texture. Today her work can be found at Hawthorn Galleries (springfield, Missouri) and on both the Daily Painters Abstract blog and the Missouri daily Painters blog. See see more of Elizabeth's work visit her blog or her website.

Have you always been an abstract painter? How did your style develop?

I began as a realist painter and that was what I wanted to be. (Visit Elizabeth's blog to see these early paintings.) I had a lot of watercolor technique from lessons I'd taken.  Watercolor was a medium that I felt very comfortable and knowledgeable with.  So being an abstract painter chose me!  I did a few abstracts that were very well liked and so was encouraged to do more of them.  However, I stubbornly continued with my realistic floral paintings.  One day, I pulled out all the canvases I had (probably about 7-10), gathered my acrylic paints, turned on some music and began. The first one I did, "Ocean Opera," came so naturally to me. I continued through each of these with such a feeling of freedom that I knew, it was me.

 

You are self taught. How did you learn to paint?  Did you learn through experimentation or workshops?

My first painting was done at my mother's side with oil paints when I was about 4-years old.  Painting and creating was always something fun to do. In high school I took watercolor lessons from a professional painter and developed techniques for the medium. Then in college I majored in art education; drawing and oil painting was a part of my curriculum.  I have picked up many tips from other artists, but I honestly believe the majority of my learning has occurred from painting and from experimenting.  I believe is the best teacher is not being afraid to try new mediums and to experiment.
 

You say design is an important part of your work. How did you develop your sense of design?

Design is especially important when working in the abstract realm.  It is the foundation, and without it the painting will not hold together.  I am not sure were I learned this sense.... only that it comes from being a visual person and a desire to create visually pleasing spaces.

 

At what point in your career did you begin identifying as an artist? Have you always consider yourself an artist or did it take time to feel that identity shift?

Unfortunately, not a lot of value is placed in the arts as a choice career.  So, I never saw my talent as a gift I could use to make a living.  I graduated with a B.S in art eduction. I was a stay at home and then used my degree to teach art at the high school level.  I found this to be fulfilling and challenging at first, but as time went on I began to become more involved in the creating of art myself and my focus began to shift. I began to see that my heart was not truly in the teaching and as hard as it is to admit, I just knew that I wasn't a teacher, I was an artist.  It was at this point that I resigned my teaching position to seriously pursue becoming a professional artist.
 

In terms of process, how do you start a painting? How long do you work on that painting? How do you know when it is finished?

This is always an interesting question. I consider myself to be an abstract expressionist painter. I most often start a painting without an idea of where it is going to go. The first brushstroke(s) can often be the hardest. This will then lead me to the next idea. I work intuitively, so I have to trust and go with that next color, line, shape, etc that pops into my mind.  With commissioned work, I will spend a lot of time tossing around color schemes and ideas that have been given to me before I begin. Each painting is different as far as how much time it takes. I might complete a painting in one session and others might take weeks. Too much time can actually be a hinderance and cause a painting to become overdone and lose its life and freshness. I am not sure if a painting is ever finished. I stop when I get to that point where it has all fallen together and just feels right. But, if I go past that point, I've learned that another point of completion will come along.

You are a member of several online groups including Daily Painters of Missouri and Daily Painters Abstract Gallery; what are the benefits of being a member of these online groups? What role do they play in your art?

Being a member of the online group like the Daily Painters Abstract Gallery is an opportunity to have your work show cased, to be encouraged and to encourage other artists. It's a wonderful way to exchange ideas which furthers your artistic development. Personally, it has given me the accountability and discipline that is needed to paint every day in order to grow. I may not necessarily get a painting a day done, but I paint everyday. I just recently joined the Daily Painters of Missouri. I am proud to be a Missourian and would like to be a part of promoting the arts for our state.

 Extravagant by Elizabeth Chapman   Much Love by Elizabeth Chapman    Sweet by Elizabeth Chapman

Extravagant by Elizabeth Chapman | Much Love by Elizabeth Chapman  | Sweet by Elizabeth Chapman

 

You will be the February featured artist for Obelisk Home. For people who may be unfamiliar with Obelisk Home and home design showcase galleries, explain what this means you'll be doing.

I just recently was accepted by Obelisk Home (the area's premier home design showcase gallery) in Springfield, Mo. to represent my work. I am very excited to be having my paintings showcased in this home design gallery. This is a wonderful way for clients/collectors to have the opportunity to see the paintings being displayed within a home environment.  Interior designers can be a tremendous amount of help in finding their perfect environment.  As a February's featured artist my work will be in display in the main area and I will be there on the First Friday's art walk from 6-10 p.m so visitors will have the opportunity to meet the artist.

To learn more about Elizabeth's work visit her blog or her website.

Originally Posted on: Jan 31, 2011 by: Kelly Powers