STUDIO PROCESS: ELISE MORRIS

6/2/2020


Fine artist, Elise Morris, makes work that creates windows into the environment. She starts with silhouettes of leaves and branches outlined in graphite. These flat shapes start to inform the piece and are developed more through the artist's first layers of acrylic. "I love the idea of movement", says Elise, "..nature is not static, it's always moving... endless". Elise's studio is filled with paintings that she works on simultaneously. "I work on several pieces at a time, rotating my attention as the paint dries and allows me to add layers to the surfaces. It's always interesting to me that the paintings that I work on simultaneously seem to coalesce together."

Elise works on canvas and paper in her studio. The paper pieces can sometimes serve as experiments; a way to test out new ideas and color palettes before moving into the full scale of a canvas. She prefers to work in multiples to test out ideas and develop new marks. Even the pieces that don't work in the eyes of the artist she will hold on to. She never throws work away, she will keep it and later re-appropriate it into another piece or find a way to reuse it. "I really approach each piece with a sense of curiosity of what it can become" says the artist. For a work on canvas, the time in the studio spent developing each layer and subtle hue change can take months to resolve into the finished product. "The layers build up, but I also wipe away as much paint as I add". The process is very labor-intensive and requires a lot of daily attention in applying each layer. 

Being a practicing full-time artist for the last 6 years, Elise formerly worked as a professional in publishing and real estate- spending only part of her time pursuing her art. She remembers the moment when "...they needed me less and art needed me more." Art-making was not negotiable for Elise and she felt that being in the studio was critically important to her creativity and her purpose as a fine artist. Her work has always revolved around similar themes of color and environment and although there is a consistency across her years of making work, it does change over time. Elise describes the key to her work is the slow and methodical process she has. 

"I don't have any fancy methods, but I have a strong work ethic and I know that I need to show up". For the artist to keep up a daily creative energy, she gives herself production tasks - cutting paper, sweeping the studio floor, or even just something to glue down. "Once I begin painting the edge or trimming something, I have a more hands-on knowledge of what can come next." The daily act of producing new ideas all the time can be difficult for an artist. Taking time away from painting to focus on a more mundane task can allow the mind to wander and go into a more creative space. Elise notices the slight changes in her work overtime, but they are unplanned and come intuitively during the process. Elise playfully says "You think I'd be sick of what I'm doing..." but she continues to find new ideas and new meanings in the work she creates. 

Elise has created a blog called The Studio Work (link below). She does interviews and studio visits with other professional artists in the Bay Area. "Every time I visit a studio and publish the resulting interview, I find that I'm connected to something much larger than myself". With so many artists insulated in their studios, Elise finds that talking with other artists through her blog series is a way of creating community. She interviews artists of all mediums for The Studio Work and finds that frequently she makes strong connections with, "...artists that carve wood, collect recycled materials or are master printers...I leave more inspired to create my own work". 

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