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20 July 2017

Show and Tell at Hollins with Elise Schweitzer

Elise Schweitzer is one of the primary art instructors at Hollins University, working towards tenure. As such, she's been working on a research show - a series of images themed around the equestrian program at the uni. We've been peeking at her works from a distance for a few years now. Wednesday, she treated us to a private showing and talk about her method. WOW.
First we just looked and absorbed. Then she shared the research she did to understand horses and the idiosyncrasies of hunt seat and equitation.
She mostly works from life, working with models and becoming a common presence in the barns. She even keeps a saddle in her studio for reference.Her talk on examining the differences in Degas' horses and Rubens' was fascinating - thins to rounds, energy to calm. These are Elise's charcoal studies.

She shared the frustrations of creating pastels - how hard they are to keep and frame. I wish they weren't so tricky, because this was gorgeous.
And then she walked us through her oil process. It began with handmade frames, linen canvas and rabbit skin glue.
She works with a glass palette, placing primaries in the corners, secondary colors between them and so on. She works with brushes and palette knives and various solvents/varnishes.Finally, she talked us through the challenges of creating her amazing oils.There were the pieces from last year that are just breathtaking.

It was fascinating to hear the similarities in considerations with her methods and our illustrator methods - and the differences. Movement was a big consideration - left to right and back, forward to back, as in inside the painting, up and down. Mixing up visual intention. How she layers the viscosity of paint to make it most flexible for humidity and aging was fascinating and something we rarely deal with when our work's final goal is to be in print. Similarly, though, she is fascinated by shapes - both positive and negative. Really look at them.

As I'm sure you are, we were in awe. Elise's work is so incredibly beautiful. To stand in the middle of so much of it was a true meditation in calm, peaceful appreciation. What a treat indeed. See more of Elise's work on her website here.

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