Reflections are certainly a theme with artist Elisa McLeod, they permeate her life and work. Whilst interviewing Elisa at her Studio, situated in a former school building in Redruth, I hear tales about how her parents always encouraged creativity and how Elisa discovered art at a very early age.
Her current work conjures up dreamy images, almost hidden by mist. Are those Palm leaves and grasses? One’s imagination can run away with itself trying to work out what it is in front of the eyes. At first glance the voyeur will spot the almost familiar until our critical mind steps in and uncertainty returns. “It’s not what you thought,” the mind says.
As implied earlier Elisa began her artistic endeavours as an enthusiastic young child and this enthusiasm continued through her school years. Next stop was a foundation course in Wimbledon followed by three years at Falmouth College of Arts, now known as University College Falmouth, where she came away with a First Class Fine Art Degree.
The learning didn’t stop there. Elisa was then mentored by sculptor, video and installation artist Jonty Lees, himself a former Falmouth College of Arts University College Falmouth student in earlier days. “Although my work and the materials I use are very different from Jonty’s work, the guidance was invaluable,” explains Elisa.
Her earlier art was the mainstay of many an artist with figures and realist images being captured on canvas. The dream-like and stunning images of Elisa’s current work developed in her second year at UCF when she started painting reflections in glass.
What was behind this recent change of style? “I always felt that I was missing something when expressing myself through my art. I felt there was this other way for me, but I wasn’t sure what or how to tap into this feeling,” answers Elisa. “I get inspiration from the natural environment and seeing the world from the ground up. I wanted to involve this inspiration in my work”.
Using the camera like a sketchbook enables Elisa to inform her art. “My camera allows me to see things from a different perspective. I love the effects you can get just by exaggerating the depth of field and focussing on something unexpected.” said Elisa.
“My recent work is informed by the natural environment. I like to get down, close to the earth and look up at trees and other objects,” explains the artist. “I recently walked through a beautiful Pine forest in France and felt as if I could have walked around all day finding new inspiration for my paintings.”
The visit proved to be an inspiration as it resulted in a series of five pine-influenced works. Other influences for her work range from places to people with Turner prize nominee Peter Doig being one of her favourites.
Like her previous artworks the oil paints used on the latest works appear thin in some parts and thicker in other areas of the canvas. All part of the style according to Elisa “It stems from my days as a student when I had to use the paint sparingly. I always like to leave a small area which reveals the first layer of paint on the canvas – something to encourage viewers to think about the process and the history of marks.
As you’ll see from the photograph of Elisa in her studio it is obvious she has found a home from home in her studio. She looks comfortable, happy and content in her surroundings and her art reflects this contentment. Now she has discovered what was missing from her earlier work, it appears the artist has found a balance, one that her work reflects.
Discovering what was missing and using nature to inspire her beautiful work provides a greater reflection of Elisa McLeod and her artwork than any shop front window. You can see what I mean at the galleries listed below.
Open Space Galleries, 40 Lower Market Street, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 8BH
Tel: 01326 373415 www.openspacegalleries.co.uk
The Summerhouse Gallery, Market Place, Marazion TR17 0AR
Tel: 01736 711400 www.summerhousegallery.co.uk
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‘ARTIST PROFILE: Elisa McLeod’ is an adapted feature from our Feb/Mar 2012, Vol.10. Subscribe to myCornwall magazine for more stories like this one.