Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Elizabeth Sheppell: Atlanta

Ellizabeth Sheppell

Please share a little about yourself.
I was born in Ohio. I grew up on a farm about an hour from Cincinnati.
My family still raises horses there today.  I had a lot of space and freedom growing up. I was lucky to have that experience. I learned to be very independent and my work ethic was instilled there.

Silk, 2010
acrylic on panel 16x16 
Where do you live now?
I live in Atlanta, GA with my husband. We live in an eclectic neighborhood called Cabbagetown. It is a small neighborhood very close to downtown. There are row/bungalow homes that were once homes for cotton mill workers in the 1920’s. A lot of the homes are brightly colored and a lot of artists and young families live here now. We are in a great location for living in this city.

Dot, 201
acrylic on panel 16x16

Did you receive any formal art training?
I studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati throughout high school in the summer time. I went to college and studied painting and minored in sculpture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. I received my BFA there.

Making Waves, 2010
acrylic on panel 16x16

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point  when you decided you were primarily an artist?
I knew early on as a child I wanted to be creative. I would spend a lot of time drawing or making collages as kids do. I would entertain myself and be extremely content as my Mom recalls. Instead of having a lemonade stand I would try to “sell” my abstract painted rocks. I think it’s funny that I would actually charge people and they were kind enough to pay. 

Punch, 2011
9 x12 acrylic on panel 2011

It wasn't until high school that I realized I could get a degree and pursue it as a career. I had an incredible art teacher who pushed me and she knew about Pratt. My parents have always been very supportive and they supported my move to Brooklyn to study painting.  It was an amazing time that I will never forget. It molded me as an artist to be very strong and push on through. Brooklyn was rough then. I grew up quickly and learned some street smarts. It was an incredible change from farm life. I met some wonderful professors, students, and really got to know New York. I miss it a lot in terms of all the art and inspiration living there.

The Fat Series #3 9x9"

What is your media?
I am working in acrylic on wood panels and sometimes on paper. I have worked in oil years past but I am enjoying the capabilities of acrylic and how quickly I can work. I am building the surfaces with a lot of different gel mediums and trying to create more transparencies. It allows be to build the layering that I am focusing on right now.

The Fat Series #4

What is your current work about?
I am working on a new series of paintings where I am pushing the boundary of the panels. The work is all about surfaces. I am enjoying working in thick layers and creating new shapes with the over hang of paint. I feel like they are becoming more like objects. It is something I have been thinking about for a long time and played with different substrates in the past. I have found a material that I use as the base on the panels to build the edges. It is definitely a more sculptural process for me. I also have been trying to expand my color palette and push myself in this way as well. Color has always been a huge factor in my work and I want that to stay fresh.

What is your workspace like? 
My workspace is in my home. It is the largest bedroom of the house. I have had studios separate in the past but this is what works best for me. It is a sunny room where my loyal dog of 15 yrs has been my studio mate. I am a very messy painter and somehow I make it work. I am need of more space but that will have to wait. I dream of a barn studio down the road when we move to the country. (Click HERE to see Liz's blog post with more photos of her studio!)

Elizabeth Sheppell's Studio

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?
I have been featuring an artist every Sunday on my blog since February.  I think it’s important to support and connect with other artists. I have gotten a lot of joy introducing a different artist I admire every week. I have a new network of artists from all over the world which is so amazing. I am inspired and in awe of so much good work there is out there. I hope to shed a little light on these works.
I also try to post about shows that are happening in Atlanta art community.

Upcoming shows
I will be having a  show Jan 2012 at Sandler Hudson Gallery in Atlanta, GA.
I will be exhibiting the new series of paintings that go beyond the edges.

The Fat Series #2
10x10 ish
Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Oh yes I do get stuck. The best thing for me is to put it away and come back in a few days, weeks, or sometimes years. I recently re-worked 4 paintings that I had started in 2009. I came back to them this year and finished them very quickly.
I also will sit with my work and just look. I let them reflect back to me and take them in. I know when something in the piece isn’t working. I might have to get rid of an area I love but I know it has to go. This used to bother me a lot, but now I know better. I now feel almost relieved when I paint over that section that I coveted. It’s a strange thing but I would be holding onto something or giving it too much power in the piece. It wasn’t letting the piece be a whole painting.

Do you have other jobs other than making art?
If so, please give us some details.
I do have a normal day job. I work for a wholesale furniture manufacturer. It has helped me to become more assertive and aggressive in the way I approach my art career. I wear a lot of hats at this job and it very similar to what artists have to do for ourselves to have any kind of art career. I think working with customers toughens you up which I believe I needed. It’s funny since I have been at this particular job I have been involved in more shows, written more blog posts, and have really focused to what’s next. I feel the most driven and ready for more right now.

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
I would like to continue to evolve and keep the stamina. I hope to have a few more galleries representing me by then. I would love to be a full time artist. I hope to make that a reality someday as we all do!

You can see more of Elizabeth Sheppell's work on her website, and she is represented by Sandler Hudson Gallery in Atlanta, where she will be having a show in January, 2012.

She also writes a blog featuring her work and that of other artists.
Thank you Elizabeth!

Thank you so much for this opportunity!

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