Elisabeth Arena


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Elisabeth Arena
About the author

As an art educator, one of the first things I tell my students is that it is my job to help them learn how to see. To create art, we must know how to strip away preconceptions and abandon what we think we know about what something looks and really closely look. After we can really see it, then we must figure out the most faithful way to translate it with the marks of our tools. There is an intimacy in drawing or painting a subject that is unlike anything else. Translating the form and line of a figure or portraying a feeling to a page is a way to completely understand it. Art is a complex set of emotions for me. I see an old cabinet at a salvage yard and imagine its transformation into an oil painting. I am filled with excitement at the variety of smells in an art store; the earthly clays and pressed papers creating an enticing aroma that smells like home. Despite my many interests in life, art has always been my constant. Knowing that I faced a tumultuous career and lifestyle by seriously pursuing it did not stop me. I forged ahead and experimented with as many media as possible. As much as I love trying new avenues of expression, drawing is the foundation I always returned to. I ultimately pursued a Master's Degree with a Drawing concentration at Radford University. For my undergraduate degree, I attended the Art Institute of Boston, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with Tufts. Being of Italian descent and wanting to deeply connect with my heritage and absorb the language , I also spent two semesters at Studio Art Centers International in Florence. The time there awakened my love of travel and have since lived in a number of different places in the US, spent 3 years in the UK and traveled much in Europe. Throwing myself into unfamiliar places revitalizes my senses and heightens my awareness as an artist. The subject matter of my work varies but I am frequently inspired by the natural world. Animals that are often considered mundane and are easily overlooked in the hustle of human life are filled with beauty. Birds scavenging in public spaces, the calm gaze of a cow or a grasshopper in a moment of rest all amaze me. I always have a camera available for a reference photo when I am inspired. I also utilize my subconscious for subject matter, gazing at a few scribbles on page until they take form and evolve. I work in a variety of drawing media including graphite, ink and water soluble pencils. I also paint with gouache, acrylic and oils. In addition to my art practice, I currently teach art at the elementary level. I enjoy the purity of artistic discovery that occurs so naturally at this age level in activities like mixing paint to create new colors and really appreciating the joy of it. The act of teaching also inspires my own work.