Elaine S. Wilson’s direct, light-filled landscape paintings on linen or wood panels get at the specific nature of a place through repeated encounters with a site. She values slow looking as a way to find out what is really going on in a place and to reveal its unexpected lyricism. Such exploration begins with drawing. Drawing helps Wilson see a place or structure and understand its proportions and interrelationships. She paints in oil on wood panels or linen canvas.
Wilson holds her MFA in painting from the Yale School of Art and her BFA from the Washington University in St. Louis School of Art. Her work is in the collections of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Library of Congress, The University of Michigan Office of the President, Washington DC Artist Bank, Herman Miller, and Cigna Corp. among other public and corporate collections. Her work is in numerous private collections across the country. She has exhibited widely with nineteen solo shows, four two person shows and has been included in over thirty group exhibitions around the country.
Among grants and residencies she has received a National Endowment for the Arts Regional Artists Fellowship, a DC Commission on Arts and Humanities Grant and a residency at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Bethany, CT.
Wilson has over thirty years of teaching experience at the college level and at community art centers, including Rhode Island School of Design, University of Michigan School of Art and Design, Washtenaw Community College, and Wesleyan University. She has taught numerous art workshops to introduce artists and non-artists to the exploration of the behavior of Color.
She lives and works in Washington, DC.
Being observant and alert are central to the act of drawing and painting. Our culture has sped up so much that the act of slowing down and noticing helps one to see more deeply – especially relationships between things. I believe that the interdependence of all things is key to life and work. I see the beauty and meaning of physical things as metaphors for this interdependence of forms, which is a moral imperative. Unless we see what is around us in a rich way, we are likely to discount it and become more anxious: looking always for something that may not be there, when what is there is really remarkable. In the end, even the most mundane place contains lyricism.
My paintings are about revealing the specific nature of a place through repeated encounters versus capturing a particular moment. Over several visits, I find out more about a setting to see if I can unearth a rhythm of mark and color that elevates what I notice into something that others will find compelling. Every place has stories. As I work I discover what they are. Sometimes stories are brought to a place by the individuals who populate my paintings with their errands, their play, and their work. While I choose a site primarily for its visual quality, the stories contribute to the richness of the experience.
Such stories contribute to why I choose a site along with the visual quality of a place and its particular structures.
My work is based on drawing. Drawing helps me to begin to see a place or a structure, and to understand its proportions and interrelationships. I like the moments in drawing when a form appears with very few marks or tones and the paper is transformed. After I make drawings I can begin to paint. I paint either on linen primed with oil or on wooden panels coated with shellac to leave the wood grain visible. I find it interesting to respond to the grain of the wood in the painting. In some of the small panels, the color of the wood becomes an integral part of the painting surface.
The quality of light in my paintings is paramount. The color must articulate the light and depth of a space, but also create its own rhythm within the painting. Light is a physical sensation, not just visual, as it is specific to both place and time. Without light, a painting is dead.
I aim to have my artwork appear as if it made itself, effortlessly. Previous decisions may be part of the visual fabric, but I like the work to be inevitable rather than labored or improvisational. The initial colors and marks left in the surface of the painting are an expression of the ongoingness of time and place - evidence of the act of looking.
1983 MFA in Painting, Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT
1980 BFA in Painting, Washington University in St. Louis School of Art, St. Louis, MO.
2018 Charting the Wolverine, Dexter Public Library, Dexter, MI
2017 Charting the Wolverine, Ella Sharp Museum, Jackson, MI.
2017 Charting the Wolverine, Battle Creek Art Center, Battle Creek, MI.
2015 Charting the Wolverine, Stephen Clark Map Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
2014 Charting the Wolverine, Gifts of Art, University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI.
2011 Goodyear Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.
2008 Buckham Gallery, Flint, MI.
2006 Light Fine Arts Gallery, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI.
2004 Tabor Hill Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI.
2004 Center Gallery, Glen Arbor, MI.
2003 Tabor Hill Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI.
2002 Sonia Zaks Gallery, Chicago IL.
2002 Geognosie, Cary Gallery, Rochester, MI.
1999 DeWaters Art Center, Mott Community College, Flint, MI.
1997 Bromfield Gallery, Boston, MA.
1996 Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI.
1995 O’Connor Gallery, Rosary College, River Forest, IL.
1995 Alexa Lee Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI.
1988 More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
1985 More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
TWO PERSON EXHIBITIONS
2014 Unfolding Landscape, Bowery Gallery, New York, NY, (with Charles Kanwischer).
2010 Unfolding Landscape, Macomb Community College, Clinton Township, MI, (with Charles Kanwischer).
2010 Looking at Land, Gallery One, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI, (with John Stephenson, ceramist).
2008 Unfolding Landscape: The Pastoral Reformed, Gelbke Gallery, Hiram College, Hiram, OH, (with Charles Kanwischer).
2016 DCCAH Grant Finalists, Eye St. Gallery, Washington, DC.
2016 For The Record, DC Historical Society, Washington, DC, Best in Show Award.
2015 For The Record, DC Historical Society, Washington, DC.
2011 16+16, Washington Street Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI.
2009 Beyond Words, A Celebration of Book Arts, Washington Street Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI.
2009 Upscaled/Downsized, Willard Wankelman Gallery, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH.
2006 Michigan Landscapes, Riverside Arts Center, Ypsilanti, MI.
2005 Six Contemporary Painters, Atrium Gallery, Ball State University, Muncie, IN.
2005 Painting Invitational, Buckham Gallery, Flint, MI.
2004 Beyond City Limits: Rural Views of the Midwest, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum, Wausau, WI.
2003 River Gallery, Chelsea, MI.
2003 Rankin Center Gallery, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI.
2002 Contemporary Painting, Erector Square Gallery, New Haven, CT. Andrew Forge, Juror. Juror’s Award.
1999 Seeing it Through: Faculty Artists from the School of Art and Design, University Museum of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
1998 Michigan Book Artists, University of Michigan Library, Special Collections, Ann Arbor, MI.
1998 Eye’s Mind, Kendall Art and Design, Hudson, NY.
1998 Art and the Natural World, Jean Paul Slusser Gallery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Janie Paul, Curator.
1998 Artists of the Midwest, University Art Museum, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI.
1997 Rural Routes, Greater Lafayette Museum of Art, Lafayette, IN.
1997-1998 The New Regionalism, Touring Exhibition, Venues:Suomi International College of Art and Design, Hancock, MI; Bonifas Fine Arts Center, Escanaba, MI; Art Center of Battle Creek, MI; Krasl Art Center, St. Joseph, MI; Port Huron Museum, Port Huron, MI.
1997 Faculty Exhibition, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI.
1997 Hand Pulled Prints V, Parchman Stremmel Galleries, San Antonio, TX.
1997 Genius of Place, Buckham Gallery, Flint, MI. Michael Hall, Curator.
1996 Drawing Invitational, Hillyer Hall Gallery, Smith College, Northampton, MA. Martha Armstrong, Curator.
1995 Painting Today, Erector Square Gallery, New Haven, CT. William Bailey, Juror.
1994 The Painting Center, New York, NY. Nancy Flanagan, Curator.
1991 Newton Arts Center, Newton, MA.
1990 Biennial Faculty Exhibition, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.
1990 New Haven Paints New Haven, Munson Gallery, New Haven, CT.
1988 Artists Invite Artists, Munson Gallery, New Haven, CT.
1988 The Landscape, Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven, CT.
1987 New Work, New Haven, Artspace, New Haven, CT.
1984 Ten Young Artists, Washington Art Association, Washington Depot, CT.
1984 City Visions, More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
GRANTS and RESIDENCIES
2016 DC Commission on Arts and Humanities Artist Grant.
2013 Artist in Residence, The Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT.
2003 Artist in Residence, Glen Arbor Art Association, Glen Arbor, MI.
1996 National Endowment for the Arts/Arts Midwest Regional Visual Artists Fellowship Award.
1983 Grant, Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation.
COLLECTIONS public and corporate
Ann Arbor District Library, Ann Arbor, MI.
DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, Washington, DC.
Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, MI.
Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Mott Children’s Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI.
University of Michigan, Office of the President. Ann Arbor, MI.
University of Michigan Library, Special Collections and Stephen Clark Map Library, Ann Arbor, MI.
Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI.
Cigna Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
Herman Miller Inc., Zeeland, MI.
Meditech Corporation, Framingham, MA.
Numerous Private Collections
Cantu, John Carlos, “Artist Draws on Atmosphere, Geometry in Rural Landscapes”, Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor, MI, 24 October 2004.
Cantu, John Carlos, “Dexter Artist’s Wide Angle Work Impressive,” Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor, MI, 19 February 1995.
Cantu, John Carlos, “Local Artists Outstanding in Juried Exhibit”, Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor, MI, 30 January 1994.
Cravens, Ceci, “Group Exhibition”, artsMEDIA, Boston, MA, July/August 1997.
Donohoe, Victoria, “On Galleries”, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, 28 May 1988.
Donohoe, Victoria, “On Galleries”, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, 23 February 1985.
Gonzales, Shirley, “CAW Offers 96 Views on the Landscape,” New Haven Register, New Haven, CT, 3 April 1988.
Hauptman, Jodi, “Painting the Town”, New Haven Register, New Haven, CT, 15 April 1990.
Hodges, Michael, “See it Before It’s Gone”, Detroit News, Detroit, MI, 8 September 2011.
Kane, Lois, “Spotlight on Galleries: Elaine Wilson”, Ann Arbor Observer, Ann Arbor, MI, February 1995.
Millis, Chris, “Turning Ordinary Scenes into Extraordinary Images”, South End News, Boston, MA, 12 June 1997.
Passfield, Veronica, “Studio Visit: Lush Landscapes”, Detroit Monthly, Detroit, MI, February 1995.
Scholt, Grace, “Recent Paintings on Exhibit at MCC Gallery”, Flint Journal, Flint, MI, 21 March 1999.
2003-2012 Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI, Professor.
1992-2003 University of Michigan School of Art and Design, Ann Arbor, MI. Lecturer.
1993-1997 Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI. Adjunct Faculty.
1991-1992 Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI. Lecturer.
1990 Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. Drawing Instructor
1989-1991 Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. Lecturer.
LECTURES AND WORKSHOPS
2017, 2016, 2015 Color and Design Workshops, College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI.
2017 Color Workshop, Battle Creek Art Center, Battle Creek, MI.
2016 Color Workshop, Ann Arbor Fiber Arts Guild, Ann Arbor, MI.
2015 Drawing, Design, Color Workshops, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI.
2007 Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH.
1999,2003 Ball State University, Muncie, IN.
1999 Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI.
1999 Mott Community College, Flint, MI.
Wilson, Elaine, “On Sandra Stone”, Painters on Painting, 18 September 2014, https://paintersonpaintings.com/elaine-s-wilson-on-sandra-stone/
Omena, Michigan 49670