Okay, I could probably stop now. Seriously.
It would be easy to go on and on about the poster for this year’s Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, the colors, the imagery, the perfection. But WOW just says it all succinctly. I can hardly wait to buy one. Or two. Three? We’ll see.
But I have a bit of experience with the extraordinary Artist and thought, in honor of this truly perfect Winter Park poster, maybe a bit about the Artist behind it is in order.
A few years ago, at the insistence of a friend, Nancy Miles, I made my way down onto Colonial to Sam Flax for a class by Elizabeth St Hilaire. I had already long enjoyed her works, seen them in print, works available in a large group at The Bohemian Hotel in downtown Orlando. What a cool opportunity to create something, get her input.
I am a LUVer of mosaics, have been doing mosaics for more than a decade. Collage Art, painting, has some definite similarities. Thus, yeah, it speaks to me. It so often easily, simplistically, joyfully combines the expected with the unexpected. It can seem effortlessly whimsical and beautiful, all at the same time. And truly, Elizabeth St. Hilaire is a master of the style.
Did she want to always be THIS person? Yes!
“Ever since I was a kid, I only ever wanted to be an artist, a painter,” she shared. “I have a Fine Art Degree (BFA) from Syracuse University where I was classically trained. Having worked for years in acrylic and soft pastel with a focus on realism, my style was what I considered to be technically correct, but ‘tight’. My goal with collage was to loosen up, to be more impressionistic. I started to add paper into my paintings as a way of editing my style–and it helped!”
“The paper became more and more and more important, and the work became less and less and less traditional painting,” she continued. “I hand-paint all my own collage papers, they start out white! I use a variety of techniques and professional artists colors to stamp, stain, tint, paint, layer, texture paper. I utilize old book pages, vintage letters, Chinese rice paper, print making paper, old maps, and at times… my kids’ old homework pages .”
In Florida now for over 20 years, and mostly employed as a graphic Artist during that time, “All I ever wanted to be was a fine artist. Right about age 40, I decided that it was time for me to step away from the safety net of graphic design and try to make it as a full time artist . . . . which was my original goal in college. While I was working in design, I was also painting in my studio at 5 am, and at 1 am when my kids were asleep and the design clients weren’t calling.”
She began teaching her collage technique on the weekends in 3-day intensive workshops at art centers around the country, first right here in Florida at Amelia Island. And with logo, marketing materials and billboard designs in her past, she’s never looked back. “My art career is blooming like spring flowers and I am ever grateful for the support of my followers,” she says.
You may or may not already be familiar with her work and some of that may be determined by Local magazines you receive through the mail.
“I have been on the cover of Winter Park magazine at least three times,” she shared. “I have previously been the poster artist for the Winter Park Fall Art Festival and the Maitland Rotary Art Festival. I have had my work featured on the cover of the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine as well as being featured in Acrylic Artist Magazine, The Artists Magazine, Acrylic Works Magazine, Art Collector Magazine, Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine, Cloth Paper Scissors Studios Magazine, Me Magazine, Orlando Arts Magazine, Lake Mary Life Magazine. I’ve published a book about my process with North Light Books called “Painted Paper Art Workshop”. This is a book which has even been translated into Chinese.
Why are Art LUVers like myself drawn to her amazing works, leading to such an iconic role in this year’s Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival?
” I think people love the idea that my art is created from materials that are recycled, re-used, and have history–old books, my kids homework pages, vintage maps, and related materials. It’s a unique and different process from what people are accustomed to; folks find it fun to look and then to linger. My collage artwork appears like a painting from a distance, so there is alway an “ah-ha” moment when people realize that it’s not a painting at all…I also focus on the use of COLOR, my work is bright and bold and I think that makes people happy.”
Want to view her works up close besides this year’s Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival?
“I travel to teach 3-, 4-, and 5-day intensive workshops both nationally and internationally about twice per month. In March I will be teaching basic collage concepts workshop at the Centers for the Arts in Bonita Springs, FL. In April I’ll be teaching a rare 1-day workshop in Casselberry at the Art House and then a 3-day workshop in Amelia Island,” she shared.
“Then I am off to wonderful places like Central Italy for the month of September, Puerto Vallarta next January, Red Deer Alberta Canada in the summer of 2020. I also get to teach in wonderful places throughout the US including Sedona (Arizon), Colorado, New York, Baltimore, Cloudcroft (New Mexico), Denver, Madeline Island (Wisonsin).”
It’s a busy, busy schedule! If you want to catch her, it’s hard to do, as she says, “I am booked out two years for teaching workshops, if you are interested in learning from me you can find my schedule online: PaperPaintings.com/workshops.” There are also online workshops which you can learn along from the comfort of home.
One more Local opportunity will occur SOON, as she participates in the Wekiva Paint Out in Longwood.
“This is a plein air painting event, that means we all stay in cabins at the campgrounds and drag our supplies outdoors to paint the environs of Central Florida from life and in the elements,” she says. “Come out and see artists in action, painting in and around the Wekiva State Park March 4-9th. We have a live auction on Wednesday evening with wine and beer tasting and an auctioneer, and a Gala with food and live music on Friday night. New art will be hung in the gallery tents at Wekiva Island ever day! Get the full schedule and details at: WekivaPaintOut.com.”
I see that as the perfect warm up for this year’s Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival . . . and that AHHHmazing poster by Elizabeth St Hilaire!
Follow her her works on Facebook at facebook.com/PaperPaintingsCollageArtwork or on Instagram: @2StHilaire.