Born in Virginia, the artist Elizabeth Huey lives in Brooklyn where she takes photographs, draws, and paints what surrounds and inspires her.
A couple kissing next to an amateur gymnast, lazy girls lying on the floor, a paunchy character napping … Huey’s pictorial scenes look like everyday life. It’s real life like the gentleman who was scratching his buttocks in the background of your holiday photos in 1997 on Calvi’s Beach.
In this painting, you almost hear the sound of the ice cubes in iced tea. On another, the chlorine and sunscreen.
For Elizabeth Huey, who studied psychology, the average human being is important, in relief and colour. Her artwork is full of people like you and me: they are bored, they eat, they kiss and ignore each other. But what can be doing their neighbours be doing, in the background of the painting?
Who are you Elizabeth? Can you tell me about your formal art education?
I’m an artist living in Brooklyn. I double majored in psychology and art and then went to Yale for my masters in painting. Art residencies like those at the Smithsonian and Yaddo have also been a pivotal part of my education. Recently. I took a year long poetry class. Ideally, for me school never stops.
You have studied in France, are there french painters you are passionate about?
At 21, I lived in Aix-en-Provence to study landscape painting. My teacher set up the class outside to paint Cezanne’s Mt. St. Victorie. It was 105 degrees and the mountain didn’t have the kind of grandeur I’d anticipated. Now I am looking fondly at those grueling experiences, and appreciating Cezanne, particularly the early Bather paintings. I also love Bonnard, Matisse, and early Vuillard.
What’s your favorite french word?
I like “mon chou”. It’s completely endearing. “Salut mon chou!” Hello my cabbage!
How long have you been painting ?
I’ve been painting since I was 14. I took oil painting lessons from a Hungarian woman who had been a spy in World War II. She pulled a burning log out of a fire and knocked a Nazi soldier over the head to escape. She had me make my own impressions of the Masters and encouraged me to take liberties with mark and color.
What inspires you the most ?
I feel inspired by the capacity of painting to reflect multiple moments in one space and it’s ability to transmit a constellation of feelings and images….
Who are those people you paint ?
I’m most interested in a myriad cast of characters reflective of varying dilemmas and dynamics. Sometimes they get specific..awnry or dreamy…but many of them lose themselves in their environment. The skies and architecture envelope them.
Does fashion play an important role in you art ?
Yes, it does. I have a number of historical fashion picture books and I peruse fashion mags for inspiration – textiles, patterns, gesture and composition.
Which music could be the soundtrack of your art ?
Depends on the day really … I sorta imagine each piece has its’ own playlist with varying songs across multiple genres. For example, this painting (Inauguration Party) could include Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and maybe All Tomorrow’s Parties by the Velvet Undergound, Coolio’s Fantastic Voyage and John Maus’s Hey Moon.
What is your favorite place to create?
The studio, of course. Although, I like to make drawings in bed.
What are your plans for the future ?
I’m moving to Los Angeles in 3 weeks. It’s a big change after living in Brooklyn for 13 years.
You are also a photographer. If you had to keep one of you photos, which would it be ?
Right now it would be this one.
I really love surprises. I was in my studio and looked out the window to see this.