This month Luna Mosaic Arts brings you a wonderfully unique Featured Artist, Elizabeth St. Hilaire. Elizabeth is a collage artist, and carries the tagline “painting with paper” with her work. Although Elizabeth does use paints in some of her work, that is not the painting!
“Painting with paper” is referring to the amazing images she creates with her hand altered papers, which look very much like a painting as opposed to a mixed media type of work, as you can see in the images we have included.
It was a wonderful conversation that I had with Elizabeth, and she shared her back-story with me, from being a married with children, freelance graphic designer, to a single mom raising two children and supporting them as a full time artist. So many people want to know what it takes to go full time with their art, and Elizabeth hit it on the head for me. We talked about how a person has to have perseverance and tenacity, and not take rejection personally, but most importantly, it is the “whole package” that is needed. Ability to market your self, communicate well, keep trying even when told “no” by an establishment, etc. There is no one single magic bullet, but doors of opportunity... Some open and some closed. It is up to us to walk through them, or keep knocking until the closed doors open and then run through them!
LMA: How long have you been creating art?
Elizabeth: I earned a BFA from Syracuse University, and I have wanted to be an artist all my life. Art has consistently been a source of joy and self-confidence for me, and so I wanted to find a way to make a living doing it.
LMA: How did you get started in paper painting?
Elizabeth: I began experimenting in mixed media around 2005 in an attempt to loosen up my classically trained style. I began incorporating paper with acrylic paint, working over and under it, experimenting with texture and translucency. My style evolved through the next several years to become more about the paper and less about the paint. I am still developing and modifying my process, learning new techniques through experimentation.
Starry Starry Night by Elizabeth St. Hilaire
LMA: Your work is wonderfully unique. Would you also consider it to be mosaic art or collage artwork?
Elizabeth: I consider my work to be collage, however the application is quite similar to that of mosaic. I am a signature member of the National Collage Society and I pride myself in creating imagery that is completely created from torn paper without any paint on top.
LMA: Do you practice any other art forms on a regular basis?
Elizabeth: I enjoy watercolor and sketching for the immediacy and portability. I have a small Sakura field box of watercolors that I take with me when I travel.
LMA: What is your favorite subject matter?
Elizabeth: My personal favorite subject matter is the female figure, however I am recognized for my animal portraits. My favorite challenge in rendering either of these subjects is creating life-like, expressionistic eyes.
LMA: Who are your top three favorite artists or top three most influential artists in your work?
Elizabeth: My all-time favorite artist is Gustav Klimt, I have long admired his style, the combination of traditional shading and modeling with flat graphic patterning and design. Other artists I admire include Alphonse Mucha (father of Art Nouveau), and Henri Matisse for his paper cuts, bold shapes and use of color.
Work in Progress by Elizabeth St. Hilaire
LMA: Who is your biggest supporter/fan?
Elizabeth: I would have to say that my biggest fan is my father. Pier 1 Imports carries reproductions of my work on canvas nationwide, my father loves to go into his local store and share with the staff, “My daughter DID THAT!” He also tells me how proud he is of my accomplishments and talent on a regular basis.
LMA: Attach 3 of your favorite mosaics by someone else:
Elizabeth: I really do not have specific favorite mosaics but I can tell you that I teach in Italy every year and I have truly appreciated the mosaics that I have seen there, both historical and modern. I have been lucky enough to see mosaic art on the floors of Pompeii, in Etruscan museum collections of Umbria, and in the studio of a current working mosaic artist in the Tuscan city of Montepulciano.
As far as collage artists, I’d say Derek Gores of Melbourne, FL is someone whose work I admire. He creates artwork with magazine papers (a type of paper that I never use) I admire the painterly effects he achieves with text, type, and recognizable imagery.
Finch on White by Elizabeth St. Hilaire
LMA: Do you support any charitable causes?
Which ones and why?
Elizabeth: I do support charitable causes in my community. I frequently receive requests via email for various national causes, but I try to keep it local. My current donation of prints and originals is going to Lyman Rowing Association, a 5013C that supports boys and girls from middle school age through high school in the sport of crew. My son has been on the team for three years and it has been instrumental in his personal growth.
A second local charity I have donated original artwork to recently is Phi Beta Psi Sorority in their support of Base Camp for kids with cancer as well as cancer research, both at Arnold Palmer Hospital.
LMA: Tell us a little about your studio and attach a photo or two of your studio space:
Elizabeth: My studio space is the enclosed sun porch of my Longwood, FL home—just off the kitchen. I have enjoyed separate freestanding studio space in the backyard, as well as rented retail space. I find having my easel close to the center of my home is the scenario that works best. I am a single mom of a teenage son (my daughter is a freshman in college) and the ability to throw dinner in the oven, run a load of laundry, or bake a batch of cookies in concurrence with painting, works fabulously!
LMA: Do you listen to music while creating (what type/bands) or do you prefer the TV? Silence? Pod cast?
Elizabeth: Believe it or not, I do not watch television. People often ask me how I get so much done in a day and I tell them just that. I do love to listen to music; we always have music playing in our home. When my son is studying we listen to classic jazz. When he’s at school, and I am at the easel, I enjoy a full gamut of Spotify created playlists from classical guitar, to peaceful piano, to French café inspired. When I am painting, I go for background music; when I am in the car, that’s another story!
LMA: What is one of your favorite quotes or sayings?
“If you do what you have always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way…”
LMA: What is your favorite art style? What do you like about it?
Elizabeth: Art Nouveau is my all-time favorite style in art. What I appreciate about Art Nouveau are the organic forms and shapes, the swirling lines, focus on the feminine, and the peacock. I have always loved working in this style, my work rarely involves straight lines, perspective or architecture. I am capable of rendering all these things, but my passion is for the contrary.
LMA: Where do you find creative inspiration?
Elizabeth: As I write, I am in San Francisco visiting art galleries, and the SFMOMA. I find inspiration in the work of other artists, both past and present. This year I visited Art Miami where I was fortunate enough to experience gallery and museum work from around the world. There’s nothing more inspiring for me than viewing a diverse selection of artistic styles and media—in the company of like minded people!
Cacophony of Color by Elizabeth St. Hilaire
Counting Crows by Elizabeth St. Hilaire
LMA: Do you have favorite brand of paper or a favorite supplier?
Elizabeth: My work involves hand-painted papers, I work ephemera such as maps, old books, altitude flight charts, my kids homework, letters, vintage papers, etc. I employ stamping, splattering, dry brushing, stenciling, resist, additive, and subtractive techniques for hand-painting all my own collage papers. Nothing is off limits.
LMA: Where do you see your art leading you in the future?
Elizabeth: Currently I travel the world to instruct workshops in my Paper Painting collage technique. As much as I love travel, I think my goal in the future will be to earn an MFA and teach (perhaps part time) at the college level. I would like to stay closer to home (wherever that may be) and produce more large-scale work.
But, life is a journey and the key is to be completely open to what may lie ahead.