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Friday, January 21, 2011

An Interview with Elva Paulson - Part 1

Once again we have another successful challenge champion! Please join me in congratulating Elva Paulson on finishing 100 paintings in well under a year! Elva's journey is as inspiring as her art and she's been gracious enough to share it with us. It has been a long and twisting road, and yet, it is evident that art remained firmly entrenched in Elva's heart as a way to share nature and her beloved Yellowstone!
Foggy Woods
by Elva Paulson
Laure Ferlita: Congratulations, Elva! Wow! You're finishing up with time to spare. Thanks for taking the time to discuss your journey! I'm not sure that many people know your background and that you've painted for a long while now. Would you share a bit with us about your journey "before" you came to the challenge?

Elva Paulson:  Yes, I've been an artist for a long time.  It has been a windy path. I took one art course in college which almost made me hide all art materials forever.  My husband didn't even know I liked to paint when we got married. Other than a three year correspondence course through Famous Artist School and a few workshops, I'm largely self taught. If learning by looking into a bunch of books and studying other artists' work can be called "self taught." We can learn so much from each other.

After our twins were born I began to take my art seriously. Some illustrating for free and some painting for the local art festival gradually morphed into a career. It was also a wonderful job in that it moved gracefully with my husband's U. S. Forest Service transfers. By the time he retired (early), I had illustrated four books, had a little notecard and bookmark business, and was selling most of my paintings through galleries.

But life took a difficult turn. A year after his 1994 retirement my husband became seriously disabled. All too soon he was walking with two canes. For nearly 15 years my priority was keeping life running smoothly for the two of us. Fortunately, he was still comfortable driving. We spent a great deal of time exploring by car, photographing nature, and I kept filling one journal after another with words and sketches, but there was no time for painting. My one big project was illustrating Birds of Oregon: A General Reference with approximately 100 line drawings and a full color cover, published in 2003. The cover was the only full-fledged painting I completed in over ten years.

To be honest, I didn't miss the gallery painting as much as I thought I would. Too often, I felt I had to keep the market in mind; and often I never got to meet the person who bought my work. I was ready for a change but never thought I'd quit.

By 2007 we were grinding to a slow stop. I questioned whether I'd ever see my beloved Yellowstone again and Dale was wilting before my eyes. Then he was diagnosed as diabetic. What a blessing!!!  That may seem like a very strange comment, but that is the day life took another turn. He ate properly, lost 80# and found a doctor who thought new hips would help some of his problems. In 2009, Dale got two new hips, six months apart. Pretty soon he could walk a half mile, then walk without canes for half a mile. and get his own coffee, wash dishes, find a missing book, etc. He got better and better and is still getting better. He still uses canes for fast exercise, but he can do it. He can walk for a full hour, carry his own camera, and disappear over the rise and into the woods. It is wonderful!
by Elva Paulson
LF: Some folks reading this interview might find it odd that a tenured artist decided to take on the 100 Paintings Challenge. What prompted you to tackle it? What did you hope to gain?

EP: After Dale began to get better, I had time for art again. I was in need of rediscovering myself and kicking a lot of rust out of my veins. It is hard to reach a certain level of expertise and then start over several steps back of where I had been, and I really didn’t know where I wanted to go. I was looking for a new path. I was amazed one night to find artists posting on www.flicker.com. Through Flickr, I discovered Teri Casper, and through Teri I discovered the 100 Paintings Challenge. 
At first, I brushed the challenge aside – quantity over quality. Ha! 
But a little voice kept niggling at me. Here was a chance to jump in with no one judging the results. It was wonderful motivation to quit worrying about just what I should paint and to get started! In the past, it has been a fault of mine to try to make sure every painting is a success, and yet I know that practice, experimenting, exploring are all part of becoming a good artist. 
I figured the artist was still within me, but it was going to take some nurturing to bring it out. Here was a goal where every step was progress towards the end goal—finding myself and growth as an artist.....

Please be sure to come back by for the second part of the interview with Elva!


Brenda said...

You capture the world of nature in such a wonderfully detailed and enveloping way, Elva. Your story is so inspiring, and I look forward to the next installment. Congratulations and best wishes for 2011!

Thanks Laure for providing such an uplifting interview to fellow artists. It helps to renew ones spirit and energize us all to forge forward on our journeys.

Mermaid's Palette said...

Wow! What a story, and thank you , Elva, for sharing your wonderful work with us! Congratulations!

Jacqueline said...

You are an inspiration to us all!

Leone said...

Congratulations Elva on completing this challenge. Thank you for sharing your beautiful art and your inspiring story. Your paintings have really touched me at a deep level, their is something very magical about them.

Thank you also, Laure for this interview and providing this space for artists to share their work.

dora said...

Congratulations on completing the challenge of art and life!

Teri C said...

Congratulations Elva. You did this challenge with such style and beauty. I have enjoyed every piece of art I have ever seen of yours!

freebird said...

Congratulations. I enjoyed hearing your story. It's really nice to know that pros sometimes find themselves needing to regroup and start anew. Your work looks terrific to me!

Kelly said...

Congratulations, Elva!!! Its been wonderful getting to know you. I loved reading your inspiring story too! I've loved seeing every one of your nature paintings!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Congrats ELva.

Elva Paulson said...

Thank you all! It is very heart warming hearing from you.

Claire M said...

C.O.N.G.R.A.T.U.L.A.T.I.O.N.S for sharing your inspiring story and wonderful artwork with us!!

Brinda said...

Congratulations Elva...I have certainly learnt a huge amount through observing your wonderfully sensitive paintings....so much about washes and transparency of water colours, light and shade and so much more! Thanks for that...you bring a spirit to your pictures that make them come alive!
Laure, it is a wonderful Challenge! Thanks