She’s dynamic. Inspiring. Creative. Fun. We love her! She’s Elaine Brady Smith and she is coming to Arts on Union in April as our featured artist. Click on the image to print out a card, hang a flyer, post to your calendar as a reminder … Meanwhile, meet Elaine in her own words.
1. Elaine, where did you learn to make art?
Creating art has been a nonstop path for me since getting my first set of Crayons and a coloring book when I was young. I think the creative urge has always been in me. It always felt like a vital part of who I am and that I must express myself through art.
Are you self-taught, or did you attend school or take art classes?
I graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in graphic arts. I have been taking classes and workshops ever since. I constantly study, read, and learn new techniques. I do this mainly because it is what I am most interested in, but also because learning is what sparks my creativity the most.
2.Please describe how you put together an encaustic piece. Also, what exactly is encaustic art?
Beeswax is used as a base for encaustic painting. It is mixed with a hardening resin and pigment, and then heated to make it usable as paint. An Acetylene torch, heat gun, or flat iron is used to fuse the wax to the painting surface. I use many techniques to create with encaustics. I find it one of the most versatile and interesting mediums I have ever used.
Encaustic art is more than 5000 years old. It was used by the ancient Egyptians to create burial masks. A portrait mask was created on a slab of cedar while a person was living and then placed over their head before burial. Some of the masks from this period are still in existence today and are in excellent condition for their age.
3. What inspires you most?
I love the simplicity verses the complexity of everyday life. I enjoy the use of ordinary everyday objects in my art like string, paper, and old bits and pieces. I can find one thing that interests me and create a whole piece of art using that one thing as inspiration.
4. What is your favorite piece of your own work?
That’s a really tough question. I usually love and hate every piece of art that I create. I love it while I am creating it, and then hate it once it is finished. I think this is because I feel that I need to move on to create the next thing and that I can do it better the next time. I will be better at creating the next thing because I will now have more knowledge gained from the last experience. I know this sounds like some kind of psychosis; however, there are things that I like about each piece that I create. So I would have to say my favorite would be the last piece I have created or more so, the piece that I am currently working on.
5. Who is your favorite famous artist? Why?
I don’t really have one favorite artist, I have many. I like Picasso for being one of the first artists to use collage in his work. I also like Jasper Johns, Kurt Schwitters, Robert Rauschenberg, and Matisse for their insight to do what was different. Some of my current favorite artists are Nick Bantock, Jonathan Talbot, and Rex Ray.
6. What are you hoping to gain from your show “Loose Ends?”
Having a gallery show or any type of exhibit of my work on the horizon really motivates me to create something new. I really enjoy the pressure of needing to create new work and I find that pressure brings things to the surface that I wasn’t aware of before. It’s always interesting to me to see what comes out. I’m really looking forward to this show because Christine is a good friend and I will be proud to show my work in her gallery.
7. What initially sparked your interest in art?
Does birth count as an answer? I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t interested in art. Even as a child I was always drawing and coloring every chance I could get. I drove my mother crazy with all my wild projects and the mess I managed to create while creating art.
8. Do you have any other artistic hobbies or skills?
I enjoy art journaling and have been keeping journals since I was in college. I like drawing with colored pencils, collecting antiques and vintage objects, reading, sewing, and cooking. There will never be enough time for all my interests!
9. Where is your hometown? If you have relocated, why did you pick the new area?
I am originally from Danville, PA but have lived most of my life here in Middletown, PA. My family moved here in 1968 , when I was in the second grade. We had a lot of family in Danville, still do, so I will always consider it my hometown.
10. Do you have any pets? If so, tell us about them.
We have one big, bad,black cat named Kitty. He bites everyone but he is just trying to be friendly. He sits with me in my studio on a high shelf overseeing whatever I am doing. He really is a good companion to me.
11. Do you have a husband and children?
I have been married to my wonderful husband Mike for 30 years this September. We have one beautiful child, Kathleen and she is graduating from high school this June.
12. What is your favorite type of media (i.e. paint, wax, clay) to work with?
When I discovered collage, I felt I was finally home and that I found the medium that I feel most comfortable using. When I discovered encaustics, I absolutely fell in love with it and I never wanted to do anything else. But, by that time I had collected too much collage paper and other supplies, so I had (have) to keep doing collage and mixed media (grin).
13. What is your favorite color? Do you find yourself using it in your work often?
If you walked into my house, you would know that green is my favorite color. Decorating with green has been very easy for me. Using color in my art has been harder. The collage materials I use are vintage and have beautiful aged browns, tans and golden tones. Most of my work for the first few years of doing collage was very neutral because I just fell in love with vintage look and didn’t want too much color competing with the antique papers. Lately I have been adding more colors and brighter colors to my work and it feels good to bring the color back.
14. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Two places come to mind. I would love to go to Italy to see Venice and Florence, and to France to see Paris. There have been so many famous artists who resided in these places. I would love to see what they saw in these cities. Also, I was in the Australian outback in 1988 and it was one of the most beautiful and mystical places I have ever been. I would love to go back there again, especially to Ayers Rock.
15. What do you want people to take from your art? Is there a message behind any of your pieces?
I want people to enjoy viewing my art…that’s all. There is no hidden or cryptic message in any of my art. I create it because it gives me a tremendous amount of enjoyment and satisfaction and I want my viewers to have those same feelings. Also, I tend to put a lot of unrelated items into my work and I hope by doing that the viewer will be able to find something in each piece that they can identify with for themselves.
16. If there is anything we have left out, or anything you wish to tell us more about please do!
I’d just like to add a quote that has resonated with me. I found it to be quite profound when I first read it and it has allowed me the feeling of complete permission to create art in my life.
“Your motion forward is inevitable; it must be. You cannot help but move forward. But you are not here on a quest to move forward-you are here to experience outrageous joy. That is why you are here.” Esther Hicks
Creating art to me is outrageous joy!
Note: Arts on Union is pleased to have help from three Pennsylvania State University students who are assisting in the marketing of “Loose Ends.” As part of their business writing class, the students are learning real-world marketing skills. Participants include: Rebecca Sninski, Senior Health Policy and Adminsitration; Kelly Young, Junior, Finance; and Kelly VanHoorbeke, Senior Finance.
Rebecca will finish her degree this year and will work an intern at Country Meadows, where she hopes to contribute her marketing skills. Kelly Young has another year to enjoy at Penn State, but is very active in volunteer work with THON. Kelly VanHoorbeke will graduate this year and plans to work in finance.
Thanks, ladies. We hope this has been a good experience for you. It has for us. Feel free to send more students our way.