The Joy of Painting

A couple months ago, after I finished eating lunch at one of my favorite restaurants on the Marietta Square, I walked to the Marietta Welcome Center to go to the restroom before I went back to work. As I was walking to the Welcome Center, through a beautiful courtyard shaded by trees, next to the railroad tracks, I saw a beautiful young woman getting set up to start painting. Although I didn’t really pay much attention to it at first, when I was in the Welcome Center, I started thinking that it might make a good human interest story for the city’s website. Luckily I had my camera with me and decided to stop by and ask if she cared if I took a few pictures for the city’s website. She said yes right away and thanked me for my interest. I mentioned that I thought it would make a good story for the Web, and she was thrilled to give me her card. I remember I emailed her when I got back to work and asked her a few questions, and she emailed back within a couple days. But alas, time has passed since then, I’ve really been slammed at work and haven’t had time to sit down and write her story for the city’s website…

Believe me, when you work for city government, it’s always something every day, whether it’s a City Council meeting, Parks and Recreation events, registration for a festival or parade on the Square, you name it, I’ve probably written it or covered it… So, having said all that, I got to thinking a couple weeks ago, “What better way to share Erin Thrift’s amazing story than on my blog, where she’ll get tons more exposure (hopefully, fingers and toes crossed) and hopefully have someone see her paintings and actually buy one.” Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present to you Erin Elizabeth Thrift.

The Joy of Painting

By Erin Elizabeth Thrift 

I began painting seriously in August of 2009, but I have been drawn to both visual and performance art since I was very young. 

I always loved to draw growing up, but for some reason was intimidated by painting. I returned from a trip to Ireland in 2009 thoroughly refreshed and inspired, and was mainly songwriting at that time, and decided that I wanted to integrate a visual representation of the ideas I was writing about. This opened up a new attitude toward the immediate boldness of color that painting offered. I owe my composition skills to my dad. He’s been an avid photographer for many years, and at a young age he taught me how to find interesting images in everyday objects, instead of waiting to be struck by a “pretty picture.” My favorite subjects include music (especially gritty blues musicians), spirituality and female empowerment. 

I love painting outside! As soon as spring rolls around I take every opportunity to sit outside, on my porch, public venues like Cool Beans or parks. The fresh air itself evokes creativity, and I think anyone can be inspired by the simple beauty and yet intricate functionality and efficiency of patterns in nature. However, I have a painting station in my apartment, and being surrounded by my supplies and past pieces also fuels my eagerness to improve myself.

I am personally partial to images that appear straightforward at first, yet draw the viewer in to appreciate the mastery involved in creating the image. That is something I hope to achieve with my work, creating something that a person can see several times, and always discover something new, which is why I love the layering capability of acrylics. I also love to tell stories with my work, and I like to hear the public’s version of those stories, acknowledging how everyone will get something different out of one piece.  

A very wise teacher once told me not to focus so much on developing my personal style. Style is inherent and will shine through inevitably. Instead, be open to learning many different techniques and soak up all the knowledge you can from experienced artists, because ultimately the goal is to effectively translate the vision in your mind to a tangible application. Also, don’t compare yourself to other artists! You are on your own path, on your own timeline. 

I have always loved traveling and experiencing new places and people, but the street performers and artists in Ireland solidified a drive to follow my passions, and renewed the idea that being satisfied artistically is far more important to me than financial success. In college I took an anthropology class by accident, and ended up falling in love with the subject, especially the emphasis on how art is intrinsic in developing culture, whether it be visual, culinary, musical, etc.  

I was extremely fortunate to serve an internship at J. King Artworks on the Marietta Square (above the Australian Bakery) under Jenny King, where I also had the pleasure of working with Mandie Aberra, Lisa Archen and Leigh Ann Culver. I was also proud to participate in the inaugral Marietta Artists Market, which began April 9 and will run every second Saturday through November. Being a self-taught artist can be both liberating and restrictive, and working in a gallery/studio/festival circuit gives your work a certain amount of credibility and accessibility to the public in a direct-focus venue, while also pulling you into a community where you can receive feedback and be exposed to new styles and techniques you may never have considered otherwise.

For me, being an artist is less about raw talent than simply having the drive to practice the art. I get enjoyment and pride out of my own dedication to improvement, and art is about fostering a relationship with the outside world through expression of one’s individual imagination. I also enjoy the idea that creativity breeds resourcefulness, and I prefer painting on discarded plywood, my homemade canvasses of scrab fabric and cardboard, hubcaps, lampshades, etc., so my hope is that someone will view my work, (take a piece home!) and that my advocation of the DIY aspect of art will open up some sort of creativity of theirs that possibly has been lying dormant or untapped, and decide to paint or create something out of their own discarded wood or random household objects.