My artistic career started when I won an art contest at the age of ten. The painting of my beagle, Kimmy, was judged the most popular in the city-wide art festival in Portland, Maine, where I grew up. I then won a New England Regional Art Contest—for painting with Q-tips. I felt like Claude Monet.
I majored in English literature in college and lived in a bunch of places — Boston, Marblehead, MA, Rochester NY, and Clermont Ferrand, France. After getting an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology, I came back to Portland and opened a graphic design studio. For over 25 years, as Ericson Mitchell Creative, I had an interesting diversity of clients, loved the work and won awards. Then the industry changed drastically and my passion for it waned. I fantasized about having the time to paint and then decided to make it happen.
Although I had dabbled in painting pet portraits, usually dogs, for several years, it wasn’t until 2017 that I decided to paint almost daily and show my work. I’m now happily immersing myself in color and looking forward to where this path takes me. I live in an old farmhouse in Hollis, Maine, with a crowded studio, a lot of books and a menagerie of rescue critters.
ARTIST STATEMENT/WHAT INSPIRES ME
As a graphic designer, I spent over 25 years trying to capture the essence of a product or service and communicate that message with immediacy. I’ve traded designing on the computer for paint, but the goal of my impressionistic acrylic paintings is very much the same. I try to communicate the spirit of a place or subject matter that captures my attention. Since my passion is color, my primary focus is on color relationships and their emotive power. The subject matter anchors the painting and I then explore reducing it to its underlying shapes. patterns, textures and of course, color. I let the painting process determine the final balance between representation and abstraction.
I’m inspired by the natural world and the beauty of places I’ve lived and traveled to. I especially love the Maine landscape with its white pines, marshes, fields of lupine, and iconic little islands. Sometimes I’m just inspired by a compelling color combination in someone’s scarf or a bowl of fruit. I’m constantly taking photos of everything that attracts me visually.
I paint with acrylics and sometimes the addition of oil markers. I start a piece with a wash of thin layers and the progress of the painting involves an ongoing cycle of adding and subtracting, building and simplifying until I feel the balance is right. That feeling of connection is the moment worth waiting for. I’m very influenced by my design education, which stressed strong composition, cropping, vibrant color and the importance of negative space. To keep my pieces from being too busy, I leave sections very quiet to keep from overwhelming the eye and to enhance other elements. And If I had to narrow down my painting influences to a few artists, I would choose the 19th century painter Paul Serusier and contemporary painter, Walt Kuhn.