Elizabeth Mayville is this week's featured artist.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life, though I started out in East Michigan and then moved to Grand Rapids in West Michigan about six years ago. I had always planned to move to a bigger city in another state after graduating from college, but its just so beautiful here and everything I need is within a twenty-minute drive.
Have you always been attracted to the still-life genre?
Yes! I’m a pretty private person, so the appeal of quietly focusing on inanimate objects is pretty great. I think that still life painting may at first seem a bit boring compared to figurative, landscape, or abstract art, but there’s so much room to do something unique and powerful. It seems like I’m always stumbling upon contemporary artist that make me sick to my stomach with envy because of his or her exciting approach to the genre (Susan Jane Walp, Richard Kooyman, and Sangram Majumdar are some recent finds).
Do you paint objects and places live or do you take photos first?
Occasionally I’ll work from life, but my studio is pretty tiny so it’s hard to get a good set up in with decent light that I won’t accidentally knock over. So most of the time I arrange objects around my house and try to take photos with natural light.
What are your interests outside of painting? Do you have other creative pursuits?
Outside of working hours I generally spend my time playing soccer, going to Lake Michigan to swim and taking my dog Bruce on walks. I don’t do a ton of other creative activities aside from painting, though I do really like tweaking recipes for baked goods and improvising when cooking dinner, though I am truly terrible at cooking and most of the things I make look like a swamp. I also like making graphs in Excel to chart trends in my business data, thought I suspect that may be the polar opposite of creative.
How do you decide what to paint?
I usually take a walk around my house and look for benign looking objects that happen to carry emotional significance for me. The idea of elevating everyday things by making them the center of a painting has always been exciting to me.
What do you hope to be doing in five years?
In five years I hope to be working on illustrated books and to be making paintings that are so breathtakingly good I can’t even imagine them now. I also hope to be a better cook who can chop vegetables with impressive speed.