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Erika Nelson

Artist's Interview

How long have you been creating?
I believe I've always created. As a 2-yr. old I remember house guests leaving with felt pen scribbles on their clothes! They usually left with a sour smile for some reason. I started selling hand-drawn greeting cards at age 7. I even create when I'm asleep. I graduated from stick people to strictly faces at age 9. There was a time when I toiled over how to draw bangs convincingly. One night I dreamt that the formula for bangs was to draw bananas sideways. I woke up the next day and tried it - voila it worked!
What other artists and movements inform your work?
The artist who has influenced me the most is John Singer Sargent. I admire the effortless appearance of his work that only comes from highly sharpened skills. Sort of a contrast to Sargent is Thomas Eakins. Eakins depicts regular people. For some reason they are not as "pretty" as Sargent's paintings. I hope my work falls somewhere in the middle, I need the pretty qualities to draw viewers in and the human realities to keep me interested. I owe my interest in nude figuratives to Michelangelo. I studied his drawings very closely, he is the master of figurative art! But I have to say that none of those names I just dished out held much significance to me before I met my mentor, figurative artist and college professor, Donald Lagerberg. I was another unchallenged college drop out until I met Don. For two years before I finally signed up for his class, he was just an instructor I encountered in hallways who urged me to take his classes. He has such a passion for art tools and drawing and painting figures, but most of all teaching young minds while they still have a burning desire to be artists. I am so fortunate too that he was willing to impart his knowledge and passion. I am a true sucker for people who are highly talented and are devoted to their craft. There is so much more substance to a person who is doing what he loves most.
How would you describe your work?
My work captures essence of individual beauty whether it is a person, an animal, or a still life. Everything is sincerely beautiful to me, my only goal is to share with the viewer what I see. I prefer to work in small dimensions, not just because I am a wheelchair user and anything smaller than 11"x14" is more manageable for me, but also because I like art that draws you in and quenches your thirsty soul. I hope my passion for stealing a moment out of life and putting it down on paper or canvas shows how much I love life.
What are your motivations for creating?
I am motivated by FUN. I enjoy producing art which is something I feel even stronger about these days; it's a feeling I haven't had since graduating from college. Internet auctions bridged the gap I had with communities I couldn't reach because of distance or because of the obstacles of being in a wheelchair and not being able to drive due to double vision, etc.. Being able to "exhibit" my art in the privacy of people's personal computers introduced my nude figurative art to individuals who appreciate it and are willing to buy my art so I can afford to create more and simply feel they like my art, they really like it!!! It is even more exciting when collectors mirror this same feeling of my art bringing them pleasure, it's a happy giving and receiving relationship, it's great!
What do you find stimulating right now? How does this influence your creative process?
I had to think about this because it's always been the same for me for years and I can't believe how predictable I am!!! Nothing stimulates me more than little things that take my breath away, I call them "little miracles". Like the way a fuchsia flower is back lit by the warm light of sunset, the pure innocence of a child about to cross into adolescence, and of course the state of feeling perfectly beautiful in the nude! I love fleeting moments because it gives me a good excuse to savor what I have now because so much of life is so precious and irreplaceable.
Tell us a little about "Erika's Friends" and its mission to help artists with disabilities.
Thank you so much for asking! July 2002, I started this project because I believe my talented artist friends with severe physical disabilities deserve to be farther along in their chosen careers. Recognizing that I can contribute to making this happen because I have more physical resources despite my own disabilities, I have contacted these artists to let me represent them so I can give this goal my best shot. The logo I designed for Erika's Friends is like an E giving a golden F a piggy back ride because I think my talented friends are golden and I'm willing to give them a hand by extending to each one of them the same opportunities I am tapping into for myself. A five-week show starting in February 21, 2003 will be our first group art exhibit. If you go to the website you can read more about each artist, their current exhibits and our upcoming show. I hope to see you at the reception!
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
My fellow EBSQ artists, you all know how much I love you guys, but I hope you know too how grateful I am for our comradery which keeps my flame burning for art. Your generosity in sharing your knowledge, time, and even when you just put up your art for critique, help my art mind stay healthy. To our dear collectors, thank you for supporting living artists! You rock my world for letting me know I did good and you are willing to buy my art to further make your point! I hope my art continues to bring you pleasure because nothing gets me more inspired than selling my art and knowing that others are enjoying what I have created! Special thanks to EBSQ and Bill and Amie Gillingham for always helping us showcase ourselves in the best light possible.

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