Artist Statement

My current work explores the possibility of making visual sense through a process that, though sometimes complex, turns out to be a kind of managed serendipity.

I create large abstracts, worked flat. I start with acrylic paint, beginning with colors in different areas, and manipulate the canvas until I find what works. The beginning is almost arbitrary, but what emerges is usually surprising.

I combine paint with a variety of textures—sometimes pouring medium, sometimes varnish, sometimes gels—to create surfaces that I embellish, remove, scrape, splatter or puddle.

Walking around the canvas as I work, I discover what perspective best suits the piece. Whether vertical, horizontal or angled, there is a struggle between disarray and harmony, comfort and discomfort that I strive to resolve in each piece, a process that can sometimes be completed through a minute detail or a disparate dash of color.

I hope to keep the viewer simultaneously engaged by the complexities within the work and soothed by the empty spaces between.

Artist Bio

Elyse Martin was born in Chicago and has lived there most of her life. With breaks for chasing down celebrities and enjoying disco, Elyse was immersed in art all her life, including a 7th grade Saturday Scholarship class at the Art Institute. Elyse had to get special permission to study with Gustav Likan at the now closed Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, since nude models were used and she was only 12 years old. Undaunted by the nudity, Elyse thrived, and fueled her artistic expression with a love for art supplies, and spend hours at art stores with her father.

As a high school senior, Elyse was chosen as Illinois’s sole Scholastic Arts scholarship winner.

After completing her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, Elyse became an art teacher in Chicago, encouraging her students to enter and win awards, including multiple Chicago Bulls art contests. Her students created a line of scarves and ties that were sold at Neiman Marcus. Work created by Martin’s students hung in the Department of Education in Washington DC and was part of Chicago’s “Horses of Honor” project. For this Chicago Police Memorial Foundation project, students designed and painted a life size model of a horse. After display at the Lincoln Park Zoo, the work was sold to a private art collector.

In earlier work Elyse Martin explored encaustic, photo transfer and more. Going full circle, Elyse’s lifelong love of art supplies informs her current work, which is a plethora of different paints and mediums.


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