“I’m experimenting with asking how much information the viewer needs in order to see what’s there. I want the drawing to be something the viewer can relate to, but I want it to be something that you might need to look at for a while.”
(American, b. 1954)
Elizabeth Patterson’s color pencil artwork is mesmerizing, with intricate photorealistic details and stunning attention to light, color, and form. Patterson grew up in Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Though she won recognition from a very early age, her success as an emerging artist came to an abrupt halt in 1984. A severe crush injury resulted in a complete loss of use of her drawing hand necessitating two years of intensive medical treatment. Feeling uncertain that she would ever draw again, Elizabeth put her artistic pursuits aside and embarked on a completely different career path.
Fifteen years later, at the urging of her partner, Elizabeth resolved to return to her art-making practice. She discovered that her gift for drawing remained intact. In her initial foray back to her artwork, memories of a much-loved Hawaiian vacation were captured in a series of brilliant aquatic drawings. The challenge presented by the subject material stirred the artist’s imagination and compelled her to begin a new body of work. Employing colored pencil, graphite and a touch of solvent, Patterson began to experiment with urban scenes but maintained the challenge of representing water in the compositions.
Her current artwork situates the viewer within a car. The car is moving down a city street or a deserted highway. Rain pelts car windshields. Headlights shimmer in a watery haze. Landscape morphs into a curvilinear field of waterlogged green. No matter the location (Los Angeles, New Orleans, Paris) stormy weather recorded with Patterson’s degree of fluency and precision engenders a profound emotional vitality in the artist’s ongoing series.
Patterson has won critical acclaim and numerous awards including signature status in the Colored Pencil Society of America. In addition, her work has been featured in several museum exhibitions, such as “Influential Element: Depictions of Water” at the Long Beach Museum of Art, The “National Weather Center Biennale Exhibition” at the National Weather Center in Oklahoma, and “Splash” at the Carnegie Art Museum in California. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.