oil Cave Creek, AZ
Member Profile


Elaine Coffee

How did I become an Artist? Most obvious, I guess, was something in my gene pool! My mother was an artist and outfitted me with paints and an easel at the age of 7, probably to keep me out of her hair so she could paint! Years later, though, an interest in science took me to a major in biochemistry in college...before I came to my senses and ran screaming to art school in New York City.

Finding a total interest in realism and figurative subject matter, oil painting became the obvious medium for me. Capturing people moving through everyday life motivated me and of course living in areas like New Jersey and New York provided endless possibilities. People in restaurants, museums and riding subways. I liked capturing gestures, the body language that visually reveals a person's state of mind. In urban areas where people are living close together all the time, there is an attempt to maintain anonymity. But the body still communicates.

And making a move from New Jersey to Arizona with radical differences in the environment didn't change much in subject matter...except maybe adding some cowboy hats! My fascination was still with interiors and people.

Naturally, there are challenges to paintings with lots of people and complicated interiors. In addition to composing from many photos and sketches, there has to be an overall design to a painting. Values become the essential factor. If values are right color almost doesn't matter. Values carry a painting from across a room. There has to be an overall pattern, design of darks and lights. So, the underlying "engineering" element has to be there in addition to the fun of capturing body language that brings people to life in paintings.

I will be a studio host in this year's Hidden In The Hills event. My studio is rather interesting, separate from the house. It spans a wash, actually looks like a covered bridge! The architect friend who designed it figured it would be an easier way of dealing with the rough, rocky terrain of Black Mountain. I live in Cave Creek on the side of Black Mountain on a road that has a limited parking situation, but neighbors are willing to share driveways and parking areas!