Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Feature: Elizabeth Pollie

"King and Crossroads" by Elizabeth Pollie
Today I bring you an exceptional Friday Feature.  Elizabeth's work was brought to my attention by Kathy Cousart.  I'm so lucky to have so many art friends that share their favorite artists with me so that I can share them with you.

Elizabeth Pollie’s exposure to the arts came at an early age. Taken to museums, enrolled in classes by her parents and influenced by her father’s love and practice of art and architecture, she was always clear about her path in life. “Working within the field of visual arts never seemed like a choice, but rather a place of true belonging”. She enrolled in college art classes while still in high school and went on to receive an education at a formal Art School. She earned her B.F.A. at The College For Creative Studies where she later taught.
Harboring a deep love of travel and art history, Elizabeth has combined her travels with her painting practice. The images that she creates are imbued with a sense of poetry, mood and depth. 
The artist paints full time and teaches from her studio, West Wind Atelier in Harbor Springs, Mi.  Her paintings reside in both public and private collections here and abroad and have received much national recognition.

To see more of her work visit her website and facebook page

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

Nearly every piece of my childhood led me to the visual arts. And, as is very common, it has been a journey that has felt a bit like a scavenger hunt.  I went to Art School following high school. Like so many other art schools during the 70’s, it felt overly intellectualized and was lacking in the classical training I was seeking. I left after a few years and followed a path that included travel, reading up on traditional methods, many museum visits and other art related studies. 
I became a freelance illustrator ( primarily editorial) and was lucky to have my work published in American Illustration and a few Communication Arts -Illustration Annuals. I later finished my BFA and taught a few classes at The College For Creative Studies. 
Honestly, it was not until I started taking a painting workshop here and there that I began to understand how to “see” with paint. 

Where were you born?
St. Louis, MO.
If you could live anywhere where would you live?
A silly amount of places sprinkled across the planet.

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
It’s very much like the previous question. Limiting myself has never been my strong suit.

"The Horse Before the Cart" by Elizabeth Pollie
Could you talk about your painting techniques?  
Once again, I have to refer to the previous 2 questions. I don’t really have a method or a technique. 
When I paint, I am really trying to create an image that conveys something more than an accurate description of a thing. I suppose I am looking for an indefinable emotional quality. I am a person who loves nuance. Nuance in painting, is not something you can necessarily achieve with a prescribed technique. So the challenge for me is that my painting abilities are good enough to translate my vision and analytical decisions. I fall short quite often but I suppose that it makes my “triumphs” all the more thrilling on a personal level. I am never bored by the process due to its unpredictable nature. I think struggle and evolution are inherently linked.

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
I regularly use about 7-8 colors. Occasionally, I will have a little fling with a color until it no longer amuses me. I pretty much have a warm and a cool of each primary and orange. I tried going with out cadmium orange and it was “like a day without sunshine”. I think I just dated myself.
"The Edge of Things" by Elizabeth Pollie

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?
A have a long list that have kept me company as I have evolved.
Currently I  enjoy looking at the work of the following artists;
Emil Carlson, Frederick Mulhaupt, William Nicholson, Frederick Judd Waugh, Adelsteen Normann, Luigi Loir.
There are so many others living and dead. They awe me again and again. 
Recently, when I saw a Fechin show I was deeply inspired by the overall trust he had that people would see what they needed to in the most under-described areas of his paintings. Or, he may not have cared about his audience at all. Whatever it was, it was very powerful and greatly inspiring.

What have been some of your crowning achievements?
On a professional level, being featured on the cover of Southwest Art. Winning the Silver Medal in the 2011 OPA National . Winning Best of Show in the 2010 Salmagundi Annual Non-Members Show. I simply feel very lucky, rather surprised and greatly aware that there are so many people every bit as deserving of this kind of recognition. On a personal level, planning and pulling off a surprise wedding, (with the help of 2 dear friends and my mother) for my fiancé on his 50th birthday. Also, cleaning my closet last month.

"Spark and Fury" by Elizabeth Pollie
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
1. More than anything, it would give me incredible joy to see the people of the world become more caring toward our planet and everyone and everything in it and on it. 
2. Just as most artists wish for, I would like my career to flourish to the degree that my needs and desires are well supported. I don’t mean this strictly in financial terms.
3.There is nothing I love more than combining painting and travel. It seems to wake up every cell in the body and leaves me loving the world even more. 
4.Ok, I know this conflicts with my very last answer but I would love to learn to walk through the woods and actually be there fully. So much of my time is spent looking at the world through an artist’s lens and I wonder what it would be like to look at something without thinking “Hmmm, look the way those two values contrast.”
5. Time; lots and lots of time.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
I think I would suggest that one should really try to let their paintings marinate and ferment a bit before they present them to the world. I don’t mean work that is done with the intention that it will be a time-limited exercise/event.  Those have a value all their own and can contain great energy.
But still, writers don’t write a chapter for a novel and throw it out into the public arena after working on it for one or two days. Editing and rewriting come after a bit of distance. 
 It takes time to really see a painting. Creating work very quickly seems to be a phenomena linked to the pace of our current world. Perhaps we have come to expect quick answers and resolutions. Patience and contemplation are invaluable to an artist with regard to assessing and crafting their work. I have to tell myself to slow down and step away every single day and even then I may not see a problem or an answer until I have let my original perception of the piece go.

"No. 13" by Elizabeth Pollie
What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
If only I could remember! Possibly when CW Mundy quoted Salvador Dali’s idea of building something first and then deconstructing it. It found it’s way straight into my brain and never left.


Chocolate or vanilla?
French Fries

Your dream vacation spot?
Draw a line from the upper edge of Scotland down to Gibraltar. Head east to the Greek Islands. Take a hard left and head north until you hit Krakow. Take the high road back to Scotland.
Now, paint your way through all of the territory that falls within this perimeter.

Book or movie?
Movie, only because when I am done painting my eyes are tired and my brain has left the building.

Favorite author?
I am currently reading, Small Disasters Seen In Sunlight , a book of poetry by Julia B. Levine. 
It is both beautiful and heartbreaking. Truly masterful.

Favorite movie?
A few that stand out are “il Postino” and “The Sea Inside”.
One box of Kleenex per movie is recommended.

Romance or comedy?
Romantic, with subtitles and dinner afterwards in lovely restaurant.

Favorite dessert?
Walking the beach with our dogs on a warm summer night.

Night owl or morning person?
Morningish with a spike of energy at 4 pm. 

Thank you so much Elizabeth:)


  1. Wow - Awesome artwork! And I always enjoy reading these interviews. It's nice to get inside the mind of other Artists :0)

  2. Elizabeth's work is absolutely jaw droppingly stunning! I also admire the fact that she marches to the beat of her own drum too.

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