“Colourful, expressive, painterly”
How phenomenal are the works of Elizabeth Power? Power is a dynamic, powerful and striking painter. I’ve know her and her work for a long time through her work on the Artfully Podcast who I did research for.
The thick, expressive brush strokes produce such a strong feeling of movement, as if pushing through flowers and plants. You can almost smell a tropical heat.
Hi Elizabeth! Let’s start with a quick one. What three words would you use to describe your fabulous paintings?
Colourful, expressive, painterly
Now tell me, we’ve known each other for a while now through the Artfully podcast, what made you decide to follow your creative career choice?
It's the only thing I've ever truly cared about. I tried doing normal jobs (even if this was in the art world) but never cared enough to want to rise to the top and dedicate my life to it. It was always just a job so I could afford to live. Now I am a full-time artist I feel I actually enjoy and care about my work! And am finally using my best skills.
That’s really special, and so, what was your earliest memory surrounding art?
Earliest was spending ages on a drawing of the backstreet boys and being really happy with it! I really nailed Kevin's strong jaw. Also going to the Tate Modern when it opened and seeing Cy Twombly's work for the first time, it was an enlightening experience!
Oh wow! Yes absolutely. Elizabeth, tell us about your process? How does each work come to fruition? Do you plan? Or are your paintings fluid in creation as they seem on completion?
I take photos everywhere I go. Parks, streets etc! Then I work from the photos I take. I always tend to paint the background a colour (usually light yellow or pink), then I draw quickly in pencil what I'm going to paint. Then I paint, which is usually very fast and I build up the colours in layers. I try to paint freely and loosely, and often use quite thick brushes to stop me doing lots of fiddly detail and focus more on mark making. For me colour is the most important thing, and I have a certain palette that I tend to stick to, full of pinks, blues, greens and yellows. I always brighten up and heighten whatever I'm painting, the photo is always just a vague reference.
Yes, the importance placed on colour is so evident! But, how do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?
I have got better at this as time goes on. I still get it wrong sometimes and ruin work by filling in too much, but I tend to just stop the minute I feel it has enough detail but still enough space. It's a fine balance. I am quite abstract so as long as I've conveyed the idea of what I'm painting with block colours, I know to finish. I also only use acrylic paints now (sometimes with oil pastels), but never oil paint as I find I have to work quickly and impulsively to get the best out of myself. Oils just take too long to effing dry for my style of work!
I’m long overdue coming to check out your studio! What are your ideal conditions to paint Elizabeth? What is your studio like (until I can see it!)? And what are your artist essentials to work?
Well I've just moved my studio so I am in the process of making it practical with shelves for canvases etc but it is in the biggest room in my house, facing the sun so it gets a lot of light. I personally like having a studio at home because I've always hated commuting, I am such a creature of comfort. I like being able to stroll down to my kitchen for lunch and also to have heating in the winter!
Do you believe your creative energy come from internal or external sources?
It comes from external things in that I constantly see things I want to paint, and am always looking at art and getting inspiration. But internal in the fact that what I paint is very expressive and my own version of what I'm painting, it's abstract and full of colour and made up in my head.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Exhibiting in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2018, without a shadow of a doubt.
I thought it might be! What a great experience!!
They chose my painting to be on a poster and a card that they sold, and seeing my poster for sale in the RA shop was quite something. It also means I can also say I've exhibited with David Hockney, Tracy Emin and Anselm Keifer which aint bad!
Incredibly names! No not bad at all! As well as these fabulous artists you’ve exhibited with, who or what is your greatest inspiration? How does this inspiration come out in your work?
My son Cillian. Having him made me determined to have a career doing something I love as I want to set a good example that he can do anything he wants!
Okay, a tricky one now. If you could own one piece of artwork in the world, as if money or likelihood was no issue, what would it be and why?
Matisse, The Open Window at Collioure (I have the print in my living room but wouldn't mind the upgrade!)
I loved the Artfully discussion on Matisse when you first started. Tell me Elizabeth, what is creativity to you? Do you consider yourself to be creative? Why or why not?
Creativity to me is doing anything that uses your mind and hands in a free and expressive way, creating something and having fun! I definitely would say I'm creative, the most obvious way this expresses itself is by painting but I'm also a musician and singer.
What is your greatest indulgence in life?
Leaving London to live by the sea and getting to go every day, I really do feel like I'm always on holiday! Also not having to work a job I hate anymore and making money from selling art.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in your field?
Keep at it! It's a marathon not a sprint. Hone your skills, do it as often as you can and work quickly! Don't get fixated on one work for too long, you will lose the original feel of the work and risk doing too much! Also get connected in the art industry, support other emerging artists and visit galleries you like as much as possible. Immerse yourself in the scene. Also do not approach galleries too early on, but do apply for open calls as that's when they want to view submissions.
Some more quick ones now. What are you working on at the moment?
I have been doing lots of small works on paper for the artists pledge which has been great! I never normally work small so I have been pushing myself to work in a different way. I have an exhibition at The Hancock Gallery in Newcastle at the moment, plus I just exhibited in two online exhibitions called Curated for Covid and The Anti-Freeze.
What is your ultimate dream project?
A solo show at one of my favourite galleries. Just lots of white walls to fill with colour!
Favourite historical female artist?
Yikes can I pick 3? Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Berthe Morisot.
Favourite current practicing female artist?
Cecily Brown all the way.
Who should She Curates interview next?
Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Lots but I need to go put my toddler to bed ;)