Meet: Elizabeth Schuppe

This week I’d like to introduce Elizabeth Schuppe. Elizabeth is fine artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. I have always been a huge fan of her paintings and so when she agreed to participate in this series, I was floored. Here is an excerpt from her site :

“Color, line, shape, texture, and light are the media that express the emotion in my work. Rather than creating a recognizable object, I use the elements of painting itself to allow the story to unfold. There is no plan in my painting, yet there is process. I let a color, a line, a shadow dictate what comes next.

The purpose is to create expression and emotion strictly out of shape and color – completely abstract. My best works are the ones that just happen, when I allow myself to be surprised.”

1. How long have you been painting? I have been painting since I was a kid but I really didn’t learn how to paint seriously until I was in college. I’ve been professionally painting for about 5 years.

2. Have you always painted abstractly or have you ever painted realistically? I only painted realistically when I was in school. As soon as I was allowed to paint freely – I went abstract. Even my realistic pieces were on the abstract side – it as just in my nature.

3. You mention on your site that there is not a plan in your paintings but can you expand on what your process includes? I always start with a color that I’m into at the moment. Once I put down a color and shape, that tells me what to do next. I just keep building from there – more colors and more shapes, always responding to the mark I made before.

4. A lot of the work on your website was created on a larger surface. Do you ever work on smaller canvases or paper? I haven’t worked on paper, or small, in a long, long time. Up until now. I had to give up my studio and have been forced to work at home so I started to work on small blocks of wood. But mostly my style of painting works better larger.

5. How do you spend your time painting? How long can the process take from start to finish? It’s really hard to say how long the process can take. It depends on so many (primarily) internal factors. Sometimes I can finish a piece in a week, other times it will take a month or two. I usually get to the studio in the morning. I work much better then. I’ll often work for four or five hours without much of a break except for a coffee or lunch. Once I’m into something I don’t want to stop. Things outside are so distracting and I always listen to music. Always. It keeps me company in an otherwise lonely profession.

6. How is the process different when creating a mixed media piece (compared to a painting)? I tend to be more careful when doing a mixed media piece. Maybe it’s because of the reactions that different materials have to each other, or maybe it’s because I feel less free with different materials. Other than that the process is quite the same.

7. How influential was your time in school compared to your time after school? I learned so much in school about how to paint the “right” way. How to mix colors, to see proportions but it wasn’t until I got out of school that I found my own voice. It’s a hard question to answer but I think I’d have to say my time out of school shaped more of who I am as a painter.

8. Do you sell the work that has already been created or do you take custom commissions? I only sell work that I’ve already created. I’ve done commissions in the past and they never have turned out how I wanted them to. I hate to make paintings that I’m not proud of at some point. It’s really hard when you don’t have control over the decisions.

9. If you could give one piece of advice to a fine art student, what would it be? Sometimes you need to take what professors say with a grain of salt. I once had a painting teacher that told me “never use white.” I didn’t listen and that was the right choice.

May 4, 2010