Who you NEED to meet: Elizabeth Fowler

We’re absolutely delighted to introduce you to one of the most exciting artists to come out of the South in some time, Elizabeth Fowler! And we’re even more excited to share that we’ll be hosting Elizabeth’s art debut in Atlanta on June 8th – mark your calendars now!!

Elizabeth is fun, dynamic and her work will have you using all the heart eye emoji’s you can handle. She’s a true professional; absolutely polished and totally poised for even bigger and better things. We’re thrilled Elizabeth will be showcasing some of her work at steve mckenzie’s and wanted to give you a glimpse into who she is before the big debut. We hope you enjoy this latest installment in our “Who you NEED to Meet” blog series!

Elizabeth Fowler

Elizabeth Fowler lives in Jackson, MS. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in Communication and Information Sciences. She began painting in March of 2016 and has since held successful pop up exhibitions at the Mississippi Museum of Art After Hours series, Courtney Peters Design and Adam Trest Home.

In 2016, her work was included in the Fondren Renaissance Foundation’s annual Cedars Juried Art Show and she was named one of Portico Magazine’s 2016 Artists Rising. This year, Elizabeth was included in the self-portrait exhibition at Fischer Gallery in Jackson.

sm’s: Can you please share a bit about your background/how you started/how you started Elizabeth Fowler Art and how you gained the courage to break out on your own?

EF: I spent the first 13 years of my career in marketing project management, client relations and new business development. I’d always had a desire to do something more physical and more creative. To create a “product” of some sort. A little over a year ago, I left my marketing post not knowing what my next step would be. The main goal was to focus more acutely on raising my 4 year old daughter, nurture my true self, better support my husband and pay more attention to our household. But mainly nourish my then-depleted soul.

I really wrestled with what I would “do next” to make a mark, prove value or justify existence. I received the greatest gift of all…. the luxury of rest and the ability to wait. I thought about going back to school but wasn’t sure how I’d select between multiple interests. I thought about beginning to write but wasn’t sure what my goal would be with the writing and frankly was afraid I’d get lost in my own musings. Then, I remembered painting. I chose painting because I thought it might be the most reasonable way for me to export parts of my spirit.

There were many fears. But, I realized that I really had nothing to lose and just went for it. In short order, I had sold several paintings and was very encouraged to keep going. The work just started pouring out of me. The act of painting was so meditative and healing for me and I loved that it opened me up to so many new relationships with other artists, collectors, etc.

One year later, I realize that this year of painting, resting, trusting has been the best year of my life. That joy is the fuel for growing my body of work and continuing to stretch my abilities.

sm’s: What inspires you/your art? 

EF: Wow. So much.

I’m inspired by materials and processes. I love nothing more than testing new materials and processes.

Other artists. The more I paint, the more I hunger for imagery created by others.  I love it when I think that I’ve seen great art and then I’m introduced to a new artist and my entire paradigm for “good work” is shattered and recreated.

I’m inspired by beautiful weather. I paint out of doors at my home. The light filtered through the tress in my backyard on a 70 degree day is irresistible.

I’m inspired by the forces behind the development and sustenance of the natural world.

I’m also frequently inspired by Instagram photos before they fully load. You know when they’re still blurry and abstract. The most mundane subject matter becomes SO visually interesting when blurred! I always want to paint after seeing those — thank God for slow internet connection!
sm’s: What is your vision, not only for the Elizabeth Fowler Art brand, but also the individual pieces you create?
EF: I don’t consider myself to be a brand. About 8 months ago, I tried to think of myself/ my work in that way and I learned that it took the life out of it for me. So now, I just paint what I paint. Even though my pieces vary in color and theme, they usually all carry the mark of my collective experience. I’m not sure quite how that happens, but the marks end up relating all of my paintings to each other.
I paint intuitively, so I don’t go into a body of work with an expectation or vision. Correction…. Sometimes I do and my intuition takes over, yielding something that in NO WAY reflects my original intention. The piece comes out and it is what it is (forgive the overused expression!). What I hope for each piece is that someone will be drawn to it, appreciate it, buy it and enjoy it.

sm’s: Do you have any “mainstays” in your work – is there something you’re always drawn to? 
EF: If you asked my mentors and art advisors, they’d say “YES!” but, my answer is that I’m so new at this that I couldn’t say there are elements that I cling to. Of course there are tools in my kit that I pull out. Drizzling, dripping, spraying, doodling.
sm’s: What are the differences in your collections – i.e. how do you create such unique pieces that remain a part of one, cohesive line? 
EF: I  paint collections in sessions. On any given day, I’ll put down 3-10 pieces of paper or canvas and paint in succession until they’re complete. Once those are finished, I really can’t replicate it. The work itself is a record of the weather that day, my mood and the materials that were available to me at that moment.
The pieces are cohesive because they all come from the same point of origin, me.

sm’s: What do people need to consider when looking to purchase one of your pieces? 

EF: I think that the only thing that is required to purchase one of my pieces is connection. A connection with the piece. The owner’s connection with the piece, which might be completely different from my connection with the piece. The painting is like a person…. It’s allowed to have different connections with different people.

The second thing that would be nice is a connection between the buyer and me. I love people. I love when I really get to know who they are. I realize that the more work I sell, the harder it’ll be to truly connect with every buyer. But I’d love it if that were possible. I want people to look at my work in their space and feel a warmth because they love the work but also to feel as though they’ve purchased a spec of my being and are able to celebrate the moment I made the piece.
sm’s: What’s on the horizon for you/Elizabeth Fowler Art? 
EF: The thing that I MOST love about life is the unpredictably of it all. Two years ago I was working to help proliferate a casual dining brand with NO IDEA that I’d be painting. Six months ago, I couldn’t have imagined that I’d meet and connect with some of the artists with whom I’ve been fortunate to form unique bonds. LIFE IS AMAZING! That being said.

In the next year, I’d like to amp up my presentation and land a two-person or solo gallery show. I’ve just hung my first solo show in a community gallery. My next step is to work with a full-time commercial gallery on a show.

sm’s: As an artist/business person how do you recharge? 
EF: Funny. Painting is the recharge for me. I paint about two days a week and it is such a catharsis for me. It’s important for me to maintain a balance in my life. Elements in that balance are quality time with friends and family, travel, afternoon cocktails with my husband (Mint Juelps), play with my daughter…. And sleep. I love to sleep. It’s the only time I can get my mind to stop. 🙂

sm’s: Anything else you can think our readers would enjoy learning about you/your business/artwork? 
EF: Come see me! I want to meet you, hear from you, get to know you!
And she means it – and we’re offering the perfect opportunity for you to interact with the artist. Her Atlanta debut on June 8th… We look forward to seeing you there! Contact the team at steve mckenzie’s with any questions.

Who you NEED to Meet: Augusta Wilson

Augusta Wilson, of Augusta Wilson Studio, is an artistic force to be reckoned with. And we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce you to her at an upcoming showcase of her fantastic artwork, as well as this “Who you NEED to Meet” blog post…

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Augusta is a southerner through and through – she currently resides in nearby Decatur with her husband and baby son. But don’t let that southern charm dissuade you. Her art is the epitome of modern sophistication. The textures, colors and imaginatively fun focus of her art leave you wanting more.

We hope you’ll join us and experience the art of Augusta Wilson for yourself at her show in the steve mckenzie’s showroom this Friday, October 23 from 5-8pm. Until then, please enjoy getting to know Augusta a bit better and in her own words:

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Augusta Wilson

sm’s: Can you please share a bit about your background/how you started Augusta Wilson Studio and how you gained the courage to break out on your own?

AW: I was raised in a creative environment in Mobile, Alabama—birthplace of Hank Aaron, West Indies Salad, and all fourteen of my first cousins. My mother is a graphic designer, and as the oldest of her four children I took after her creative tendencies. Growing up my siblings and I were always involved in her projects, whether it was a photo shoot for a magazine ad or mural for the Junior League fundraiser. In hindsight this ultimately had a huge impact on my career choice—I’ve always known I wanted a creative career that allowed me to spend time with my children.

Being the oldest of my family also meant I became fiercely independent—which holds pretty true today. I chose to get my undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia for three reasons: their art school seemed credible, Athens, GA was a good distance from Mobile, AL, and they had a study abroad program that would let me live in Italy for a summer. I knew one person the day I arrived and didn’t even tour the campus until orientation.

Augusta mixing paint

The first reason, UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, is how I really got into painting. Painting had always come naturally to me, but I had never taken it seriously. It was pure hobby before college. I played around with different fields of study at Lamar Dodd—graphic design (you’re welcome, Mom), photography. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that my drawing instructor, Jen Bandini (who is an awesome painter in her own right—check our her blog, Escape to New York. So good), pointed out the gestural marks I was making. “You are such a painter”, she told me. At that moment it just clicked. I signed up for my first oil painting class the next quarter and never looked back.

I love a hypothetical question, especially at a dinner party (side note: I really just love a good dinner party!). My go-to hypotheticals are: “If money were no object, what would you do?” and the slightly more morbid, “If you could choose, what would you have for your last meal on Earth?” The answer to the first, for me, has always been that I would have my own painting studio at home and paint my days away.

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Of course, starting my studio was not as ideal as money being no object for me (Far from it, in fact. I’m an artist, y’all!).  I’ve been painting on the side of my day job since college. When I was pregnant with my first child a couple of years ago, my creativity went through the roof. I had to paint everyday. I suddenly had so many more ideas for paintings and couldn’t wait to get them on the canvas. I started posting images of my daily (or really, nightly) paintings on Instagram, and my followers started buying them! There were some instances when I would get up early and finish a painting before going to my day job, post it on Instagram, and it would sell by lunchtime. It was incredible, and (obviously) a huge point of encouragement towards going full-time in my studio. I couldn’t help but think that if I were to put all of my efforts towards creating and marketing my work that this could be a viable source of income and creativity for my life.

The other point, unfortunately, was that my employer at the time was not encouraging of my pregnancy.  Of course, that’s a whole other story.  Nevertheless, I found myself thinking that (as naïve as it sounds) you do only live once. I wanted my child to be proud of the profession I had chosen, I wanted to be proud of the profession I had chosen, and I knew that my contentment with what I did for a living would translate towards his attitude in life.

I started my studio shortly after the birth of my son, and it’s been one of the most challenging and best decisions I’ve made. YOLO, y’all.

Paint Upclose

sm’s: What inspires you/your art?

I’m a painter’s painter. I love the texture of oil paint, the juiciness of it, the history of it.  I love the whole process of layering oil paint, finding the right medium to mix it with, finding ways to manipulate it. The paint in itself inspires me!

Painting too, of course, is also tightly entwined in history. I find that every mark I make or color I mix is reminiscent of those who have gone before me, and thus I’m constantly reminded of my own history. Inevitably, the South, my life, and the design world around me find their way into my paintings.

Augusta in Action_5

My current series for my Fall collection is inspired by approaching storms on Mobile Bay. Growing up in the hurricane target zone of Mobile, Alabama, the coming of Fall also meant the coming of storms. For those of us who grew up on the water, these storms hold tight to our memories. The salt in the air, the instantaneous dropping of temperature and sweeping of winds, were all a part of the sensory overload as we watched the horizon line disappear with the onslaught of rain. For me, these memories bring a sense of solitude, which I poured onto the canvases of this series.

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sm’s: What is your vision, not only for Augusta Wilson Studio, but also the individual pieces you create?

I am interested in art that is both accessible and thought provoking. I want to bridge the gap between paintings that belong in MOMA and paintings that match your sofa. I believe you can have the best of both worlds.

Augusta starting canvas

sm’s: What’s on the horizon for Augusta Wilson Studio?

I’m currently working with a handbag designer in Indiana to create hand-painted leather clutches for the studio! I have a weakness for fashion, so this is a perfect blend of worlds for me. They’ll be ready in time for holiday season and available for purchase on my website as well as a handful of Atlanta retail locations. Stay tuned!

Augusta in Action_7

sm’s: As an artist/business person how do you recharge?

Painting/Running a business is such a mental game, so I try to get in a daily long run or yoga session to get out of my head. Also, if you haven’t caught on already, I’m a huge nerd. I love to read. I’ve been trying to read a book a week, which is a total luxury. I’m currently reading ‘Fates and Furies’ by Lauren Groff. So far, so good.

All that being said, my favorite way to recharge is with a great meal and even better company. My husband and I love to cook, so a nice glass of wine (or two) as we make dinner and catch up is something I really look forward to during the week.

Underlayer painting upclose

Cheers to relaxing with the one(s) you love over a weeknight meal and nice glass of wine! Thank you for the candid responses, Augusta!

If you didn’t fall a little in love with this wonderful artist and her unique works, we assure you, viewing them up close and in person at her upcoming show will ensure your appreciation for Augusta and her paintings.

We look forward to seeing you in the showroom soon!