Meandering Years, 2016, Acrylic and Oil on Wood, 84 x 60 Inches / All Works by Elizabeth Huey
Sometimes you find an artist whose work moves you so much you imagine living inside one of their paintings.
Pouring yourself a glass of acrylic red at the family dinner table, or skiing down the snow dusted mountain to the oil painted turquoise pool below. This is exactly what happened when I saw Elizabeth Huey’s work. Full of life and color, Huey’s pieces mix the past with the future to create a fantastical present. We asked her a couple of questions about process, influence, and what it’s like to conduct a symphony of colors.
Northern Retreat, 2015, Acrylic and Oil on Wood, 36 x 48 Inches
You have studied and completed residencies all over the world. As an artist, how important is travel and immersing yourself in different environments?
Studio life can be incredibly isolating. Residencies offer a heightened and compressed communal experience as well as the chance to explore new environments. Recently, I completed a residency at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York. Surrounded by gardens and historic treasures, artists are given the time to share meals and conversation with writers, composers, dancers and poets. At Yaddo, I felt very lucky to be assigned the Stone South studio, the same space Anne Truitt worked in 1974.
Your work is so colorful. Does your palette match your temperament?
I’m not sure if there is a direct correlation between the two. Each painting has its own mood and I hope the colors work together to support a spatial and emotional experience. The neutral tones, grays and browns, are just as fundamental to me as the saturated colors. I work to integrate and differentiate the dark and light, like a conductor harmonizing a symphony.
Midnight Soak, 2013, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40 Inches
The Source, 2015, Acrylic and Oil on Wood, 48 x 60 Inches
You moved from NYC to LA—two places very different from one another both in aesthetic and lifestyle. How has the move influenced your work?
In September I will celebrate my first year on the West Coast and I’m still processing the transition. It’s a wild feeling to encounter so much open space and sky after so many years in New York. This might contribute to why LA is considered the capital of holistic healing. It’s a change but I’m into it. I’ve always been fascinated by the complexity of communities that spring up around the search for spirit and wellness.
What is your studio space like? Are you tidy or is it a war zone of materials and half full teacups?
When I’m on deadline there are usually a lot of empty coffee cups and…yeah, it can get crazy. There is a fundamental and necessary amount of mess but I also thrive on structure. I use the label-maker and maintain my found photos in categorized files. There persists an ongoing exchange between chaos and order in the studio.
Inauguration Party, 2015, Acrylic and Oil on Wood, 42 x 47 Inches
Yoga Camp, 2014, Acrylic on Wood, 20 x 24 Inches
Do you remember the first time you looked at one of your pieces and felt really proud? Were you older than 5?
I think every child is an artist. I remember as a kid feeling especially happy with a volcano I made. Part of creating is the ability to materialize a vision. Now, I find it rewarding to celebrate the surprises that occur in the process. A painting is a conversation. The artist says one thing but the work speaks, too.
You also take photos. Have you ever painted one of your photos?
Usually, I paint from multiple sources including my own photographs. I take liberties and work to employ the properties of painting such as variation in texture, mark-making, surface and movement. If I am immersed in a painting for an extended time, it ends up informing my perception of the world as well as the photos I take.
Dinner Party, 2013, Acrylic and Oil on Wood, 48 x 60 Inches
Full Moon, 2016, Acrylic and Oil on Wood, 20 x 24 Inches