I first came across Erin Spencer's art through Instagram, years ago. Seeing her quiet, thoughtful pastoral scenes were a welcome moment in a sometimes noisy day. I was intrigued by how well she could capture the feel of place and time, often on quite small canvases. Her landscapes feature the environs of her Rhode Island home: a nearby nursery, the Narragansett Bay, and the fields, clouds, and tree lines of the East Coast. She portrays the lay of this homeland with such affection and grace.

Everything from Erin's earthy color palette to her painterly brushstrokes invite you to slow your pace down, to ponder, to breathe. Which is much the way her paintings work too, letting go of minute details so that which is most true to the scene can sing. 

Artist Q & A

Do you have a process for creating ideas or getting into a creative mindset?

My sketchbook is my idea deposit. I keep a sketchbook with me practically all the time. I'm able to record shapes and compositions when the inspiration strikes. Then, when I need to jump-start my creativity I open up current or older sketchbooks and browse until my eye falls on a composition I haven't worked out in paint before. It never fails me!

What brought you to painting?

I was drawn to painting by seeing art in person and up close. Really seeing the textures, colors, and mood expressed in original art was the catalyst for me to push brush to canvas and start working out my own paintings.

What obstacles have you had to overcome to become the painter you are?

One of my biggest challenges is finding a way to paint even when I don't have long stretches of time to paint. This can make it difficult to dive deep into projects and ideas. I've had to learn how to be efficient in my process without losing the element of spontaneity and exploration. One of the best ways I've found to be always evolving and learning is to change up my medium now and then. Going from oils to gouache to watercolors really forces me to focus on problem solving and not become too complacent in my process or subject matter.

What do you believe the role of art is in the home?

I can still remember the art in my childhood home. Some of it was uplifting in nature, making me think more deeply about spiritual things. Some of it was intriguing, making me ask questions. And some of it was whimsical, giving us something to talk about or to laugh about. Practically all of that art became part of the fabric of our home and our upbringing. Even today much of it is still in my parents' home. When I visit them, that art reaches out to me and comforts me because of its familiarity. I think art can be so many things, but above all else it makes a space unique. Each piece of art acts as a window to a different world, allowing us to travel in our minds to new places or to new ideas in an instant.

What paintings do you remember from your family home?

One painting that I will never forget, and that still hangs in my parents' home now, is a huge painting on canvas. It is probably about 8 feet x 9 or 10 feet. My great uncle gave it to my parents when I was a young girl to thank them for something they had done for him. It is a post-modern surrealist landscape painting featuring a desert, distant mountains, and a giant green plant reaching out toward the viewer. It was always so interesting to me as a child, and we all still sit and ponder (and laugh) about it. My parents have a very traditional style in their home decor, so this piece could be considered out of place. However, I wouldn't know my childhood home without it! It is on the most prominent wall in their home and can be seen through the big front windows of their house. We all love it even though it is probably something my parents never would have bought even if they had all the money in the world. Interesting how art can become a part of your life!

What paintings have been the most personally moving to you?

This is a tough question to answer. From my childhood I was most exposed to the art of Van Gogh. His bold brushwork always attracted me. Running with that Dutch art theme, I've been extremely inspired by the Hague School of artists. As for living artists and artwork that has most recently inspired me, I would have to say seeing the larger-than-life wall murals done by Douglas Fryer at the Church History Museum was a game changer for me. 

What paintings do you have currently in your home?

I have some of my own paintings hanging, as they wait for homes of their own. Some of my paintings will stay with me forever, and some of them hang in my children's rooms. I also have pieces from artist friends whose work I love. Then there is always the artwork I love to display that my own children have done.

Join us for a reception on May 10th from 6-8pm.

April 26, 2018 — Carolyn Carter

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