When I first encountered Elaina Posey’s work, my thoughts about it were pretty straight forward: I liked it. The lukewarmness of that statement, however, would not have lead me here, writing about her work and telling you to PAY ATTENTION because, to be perfectly non-academic about it, she’s got it going on. So what changed and how did you and I get here?
Well, this is a story of breadth. That is to say, looking a the whole of Elaina’s work, rather than segments at a time. Again, I liked the pieces I was looking at — they were cheerful and bore a textural sense of immediacy. But what made more sense to me, and what has always been a key marker of mine in considering any artist, was Elaina’s ability to create different works that all wreaked (in the best way possible) of her style — beachscapes and blocky, minimal compositions alike.
Once my mind pieced together the combination of variety and consistency in Elaina’s work, I was turned into the big fan I am today. And, as we all know, when I’m a big fan, I start asking questions…
Vango: When did you begin creating art?
Elaina: I remember crafting and drawing as a small kid and really enjoying the process, but high school is when I began to think about it as a career.
V: What does it mean to be a reactionary artist?
E: My paintings have always been about the process if painting. Rarely do I have a preconceived idea about what the painting should look like. I often refer to landscape or past experience, but for the most part Im reacting to the paint itself. I typically mix the paint on the canvas and apply a ton of paint. Sometimes this produces unexpected color, texture or even objects. I react to those things and many times the painting becomes something totally different than I had expected.
V: How do you capture the “essence of moments”?
E: When I’m painting, Im typically thinking about a particular event or place. More specifically a vibe or a moment that I remember about that particular space or thing. Then I paint- I think subconsciously or intuitively Im picking certain colors, or making certain marks in response to my feelings surrounding that memory. In that sense, Im hoping to capture the “essence” of that moment. Much like a smell or a song can take you back to a past experience.
V: Describe your process, what goes into making a piece?
E: I paint pretty fast, rarely do I go back and correct or change things. I think that has to do with the previous question- capturing the essence of the moment. A lot of the process is the thought or idea of the painting beforehand. I have these ideas about a series that I take some time to think about, then when Im in the studio, the paintings just sort of take shape. Sometimes its a completely different outcome then intended, but because I have a pretty recognizable way of painting- I think they all seem to correlate.
V: How do you approach or relate to color?
E: Color is huge for me. I spent a lot of time in graduate school thinking about and attempting to understand color theory and how color can affect the artist and the viewer. I use a lot of pure color straight from the tube- 90% of my paintings are experiments in color/spatial relationships. For me, color is the most significant part of the piece- it has to be intentional.
V: What types of media have you worked in and what have they taught you?
E: Oils/Acrylics, Printmaking, some ceramics/sculpture and digital photography.
They’ve all taught me so much. Printmaking really helped to simplify my process and not worry more about the whole. I think Ive carried a lot of my experiences there into my paintings. Photography has been invaluable as well. Im a portrait/event photographer as well so composition, focal point, color and contrast definitely parallel my studio practice.
Education, experience and continuing to teach yourself/surround yourself with your peers is so important when being an artist. Stay humble!
V: Would you say your work a reflection of yourself, or the world around you?
E: A combination of both. Most of my work has a correlation with landscape or cityscape so everyday life/where I’m living at the time definitely plays a huge factor. But for me, when I look back at old paintings and its like looking at old photos – you leave a piece of yourself in each painting.
V: Who has been most influential to your work?
E: There have been so many! Artist wise though I have always loved the abstract expressionist and the minimalists, as well as a ton of contemporary artists. I think the art scene now is pretty exciting. Etel Adnan, Cy Twombly, Josef Albers, Sean Scully, Philip Guston and David Hockney to name a very few.
V: You’re creating a piece and you hate it – what happens next?
E: I paint right over it. I get frustrated pretty easily ha.
V: Is there any piece of art you’ll never sell?
E: Theres one or two that I love and probably wont ever sell. But for me, I’d much rather see my paintings go to a good home being enjoyed than just piling up in the studio.
V: What do you want people to feel when they look at your work?
E: I want them to take from my work whatever they want to, without too much input from me as the artist. The hope is that it takes them to a certain space or moment in time that they fondly remember or can relate to. I want my paintings to tell my story, but also become someone else’s story. My paintings can be interpreted several different ways and I think that what makes them interesting – they can mean something different to many different viewers.
V: Take us through a day in the life of Elaina Posey…
E: It’s been a little hectic lately- I have a 15 month old son Benji, who is the love of my life. So, most of my day is hanging out with him. Naptime and Bedtime is my time to reflect and work on new paintings or photographs. In fact, Im working on an ongoing painting/photo series that documents my ideas on “motherhood”. You view some of that work on my website- elainaposey.com and instagram: @elaina.poseyart.
Select pieces are now available on Vango. View them here and follow Elaina to keep up with new additions.
Also published on Medium.