“Observing Observing (a white cup): Elizabeth Ockwell”

With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” opens September 12th and continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Reception for the artists, Sept. 12, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #28: Elizabeth Ockwell

e-me in studio 8_15

1. How did you respond to the idea of the white cup?

First, I resisted the idea of painting the cup and thought of many ways to avoid the straight-forward assignment—-like this:


This was not a painting about a cup. It felt dishonest, so I stopped resisting the idea and began to whole-heartedly paint a cup.

e-cup and shards

The first cup that I chose slipped out of my hand and shattered. The shards were very clean and elegant and seemed to be part of the idea of the cup—this time in an honest way. I put the shards and another cup on my table and painted them. After painting the cups, an odd and pleasing thing happened to my drawing. Looking so intently at the cup, it became much easier to see pure shapes, and when I drew, the lines flowed freely from my hand.

e-Lovric's 3

This sketch of a boxcar in a boat yard drew itself without all of the usual measuring. I was seeing shapes, not objects. The magic has worn off a bit now.

2. Are you a full-time artist? How do you support your art?

I am a full-time artist now. Before I retired, I taught Anatomy and Watercolor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

3. When did you consider yourself an artist?

I was a flute student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. One day, I visited the Fine Arts Museum. There I was struck by the remarkable delusion not only that I could paint just as well as the masters, but that I would eventually paint BETTER than they did! It was a very exciting madness. I left school and travelled around the world; this seemed like the logical next step. Finally, I returned to Seattle and began to study art at the University of Washington.

4. What are your influences?

Leonardo, German graphic artists from Albrecht Dürer to Horst Janssen, Beaux Arts architectural drawings, and my teachers, especially Norman Lundin and Kurt Kranz.

5. How big is your studio?

It is a former dentist’s office in an old building in Anacortes. There is one good-sized room about 20 feet by 25 feet and two smaller rooms just big enough for the dentist’s chair. The studio is on the south side of the building so I have to partially close the blinds for part of the day, but I have daylight florescent lights if I need them.

6. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to radio or TV.

I come to the studio in late morning, drink a cup of tea and think and sketch for a while, then get to work. Usually, I have something interestingly difficult to work on. Now I am working on a series that I began in Paris; drawings of the corridors of the Paris Opera House. No, I don’t listen to music or watch T.V. when I am working, but if I am hand-coloring etchings or doing something very repetitive, I sometimes listen to an audio book. I usually work for four or five hours.

7. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

Pencil, pen and watercolor. I usually have several projects going.

8. Do you have any unique tools?


9. What do you do outside the studio?

I like to sketch out of doors.

and in coffee houses.

Besides this, I like to read, do yoga, walk and to be at home with my husband and my cat.

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2 thoughts on ““Observing Observing (a white cup): Elizabeth Ockwell”

  1. You are one of the most truly talented people I know. You see things and appreciate them for what they are and most never see what you see and it is always the best of whatever it is because that is how you see the world…I have observed how your talent takes your vision from your eye, to paper or canvas in an instant and I have always been in awe….. You are awesome…Happily your Niece is almost as talented and is using that talent now : )
    Michelle Crookes


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