Elizabeth Chapman describes herself as an abstract expressionist painter. Creating complex compositions through layers of paint, Elizabeth's works are vivid, lively, and bold. Using her intuition to guide her practice, Elizabeth believes that it doesn't matter how each painting begins, just as long as it does. Viewing every painting as a new journey, Elizabeth challenges herself to take risks, and believes that it is in these moments, that the painting will finally emerge.
In this interview, we join Elizabeth Chapman in her studio to discuss her creative process and learn more about her journey becoming an artist.
Can you tell us about your journey to become a professional artist?
Around ten years ago, I was a high school art teacher who believed that she was really more of an artist than a teacher. It was a time in my life where I just needed to follow my heart. I resigned my tenured job in order to pursue this desire of being an artist. I don't recommend leaving your day job without first having gotten your business off the ground, but for me it made me work that much harder. I had no idea there was going to be so much to learn. Actually, I had no idea!....I just jumped into it and here I am, ten years later, I know for myself that I am an artist.
How would you describe your work?
My work is a literal playground of visual enchantment. In each of my paintings, I create a new world filled with contemplation and reflection of color, line and composition. Using those simple elements of art, I weave form, color, line, texture and pattern into each piece, hoping to invite the viewer to have new thoughts and evoke new emotions in my wonderful world of color.For emerging artists, finding the right rhythm to be productive in the studio can be a challenge, what advice do you have for staying productive and focused?
My advice to emerging artists is to show up to work everyday. Eventually the right rhythm will find you. When I resigned from my job to pursue this career, I immediately set up my hours just like a regular 8-5 job: mornings were for painting and afternoons for working on the technology aspects of the job. That was the first year. Eventually, I learned how to manage my time and still get what I needed done. I’ve also learned how to be more flexible and work around family needs, and life in general.
As an artist, how do you measure your success?
I believe that how artists measure success will vary according to what is important to us. For me, it was important to begin to make an income, so making those first few sales were important. They still are a time of celebration!! But also, being able to do what I love and get fulfillment from it, is success. Living a simple life, being happy, taking in all the beauty that surrounds us, and then having the ability to take all that and translate into a visual story that uplifts others is success.
How do you see the art market changing? Where do you see yourself in this transition?
I feel as if we are swinging back from online galleries and back to the local, brick and mortar galleries, or at least more of a balance. For the last ten years, I’ve learned, seen and heard a lot about being an independent artist. For the most part, I am an independent artist but I’ll also work with anyone who reaches out to me. I believe artists are realizing and respecting that we really do need each other. Additionally, social media is changing as the interest in videos increases. They seem to be the new picture. Selling prints of original paintings has also been growing in recent years. It is important to be aware of and look for all these new trends. For myself, I will continue along at my snail pace and try not to become overwhelmed by technology. Painting is my first priority.What advice do you have for artists who are beginning to build their career? Have there been any habits or strategies that you have adopted that you feel have created more opportunity or visibility for your work?
My advice for artists who are beginning to build their career would be the same as that which I was fortunate enough to have received from a seasoned professional artist. Create an internet presence. (I would now add… a local presence as well). Social media, a blog, your own website and other sites where you can list art for free are all good places to begin, plus it gives you experience in writing descriptions and promoting your work. Some of them will work for you and some of them won't, but remember that it is all cyclical. It doesn't happen overnight, persevere and don't be afraid to reach out.
Do you consider yourself, and all artists, to be entrepreneurs?
All artists are entrepreneurs, or will soon learn to be one. If you just sit around waiting for opportunities to come to you, chances are you won't be in the business for long. Artists have to learn what they do best and play towards their strengths. It's the artist’s originality and quality that will ultimately sell their work. As an artist, you know your own art the best, which makes you the best salesperson.
Failure is an inevitable part of success in any field. Do you have advice for overcoming setbacks?
I see failure as a part of the process, whether it's in painting or the business side of my profession. It's how I learn. It makes me think creatively and ask questions about how I can make my practice better.What sparked your interest in partnering with TurningArt? Has your experience with TurningArt differed from other art companies you have worked with?
My interest in working with TurningArt was sparked many years ago. They were just starting out and reached out to me as an artist. I felt as if they were taking that chance in starting a new business and I wanted to partner with them and help them out. They differ from other sites that I work with in several ways. I only sell the original paintings and they sell prints. They are also the one site that has been consistent in sales.
What does having your artwork in the workplace and other commercial or public spaces mean to you?
It is an honor to have my artwork out in homes, workplaces and other public places. It means that it is going to help brighten someone's day, put a smile on a face, begin a conversation, bring a place to life and spark joy. In so many ways, art serves to create a space in time. Let's fill the world with art!!