• Commission a painting by Laura H Elliott from the ‘Landscape Moods Collection’

Commissions Are Always Welcomed

I am always delighted to create commissions, as I see each piece as a collaboration, which creates a personalised and truly unique final painting.

How do I place a commission order?

I am represented by a highly experienced gallery, called Degree Art, London, UK

My gallery link is below:  https://degreeart.com/artists/laura-elliott

Their team can coordinate with you and we can begin the commission process:

Please contact Isobel Beauchamp (Director of Degree Art) on Isobel@DegreeArt.com or call one of their Art Advisors on 020 8980 0395.

Tell her my name, Laura H Elliott and the artwork that inspires you. The Degree Art team can then explore ideas such as: size, any of my art you love, colour scheme of your home or project and then the commission process starts.

What can I expect?

All my artworks are available for commission with Degree Art Gallery, who represent my work as a professional artist and have extensive experience.

I have been selling my work since 2006 and every artwork is of the highest standard. I have never had a return and every artwork is painted on a high quality canvases by either Loxley or Winsor Newton.

Every artwork is hand signed with my initials LHE, as below:

Inspiration from the collection, so far:

Shown below is a slide show for inspiration from my portfolio of paintings in the ‘Landscape Moods Collection’:

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Are there different paint effects?

Yes, every painting contains a unique combination of effects, with each effect adding a dimension to the final painting. Should you like any effects, they can be added to your commission:

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Feedback From Commission:

Type: Painting Commission

Location: New York, USA

“I recently purchased a beautiful piece of art from Laura Elliott. Not only was the piece exactly what I wanted, but Laura handled the whole transaction very flawlessly. I was looking around for something colourful and luckily stumbled upon this website. I saw something I loved but when inquired about purchasing it, Laura told me it was already sold. That certainly didn’t stop the search and Laura quickly responded saying she could paint one like that if I was interested and I could even choose the colours.

The next few interactions with Laura involved choosing colours and getting a proof of the painting before I had to commit. Paying was very simple through Pay Pal and we managed to come to a financial arrangement that fitted my budget. The painting was couriered as soon as my payment had gone through and it arrived within a few days. The whole transaction was dealt with very professionally and was very simple. Laura is an enthusiastic and energetic artist who has a passion for what she does. I could feel this through the friendly and personal e-mails we exchanged while she was painting my special piece.

Thank you Laura.”

See more about my work at:

I am represented by a highly experienced gallery, called Degree Art, London, UK

My artwork gallery link is below: 


To read more customer feedback:


Contacting Laura H Elliott BA (Hons)

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurahelliottart

Twitter @laurahelliott

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• Art = Solice = Disability = Art = Freedom

Disability is unique to everyone. This is no more so than with me.

Above: ‘Scorched Landscape’

I have always been hesitant to speak about my disability, the reasons for this is complex and hard to explain. I hope to start a dialogue in this blog and to open this part of my life to move forward.

I do not want my disability to be my sole-focus or my complete identity in life, but it is such a large part of my life, it has significantly impacted my art. 

My wish to share this part of my life, as it adds a new dimension of understanding in my work as an artist.

My art has always been an open representation of my inner self and it has reflected into the choice of colour, style and subject matter in all of my work, including the ‘Landscape Moods Collection’ mixed media paintings, started in 2002. I have created work from my heart from the age of 17, which has presented my life in my art, in every medium I have explored and studied.

My emotions are the are a pivotal catalyst which drives my work.

Above: ‘Landscape Tones II’

An organisation called ‘Disability Arts International’ (coordinated by the British Council) has made me stop and think…

…why not speak about this?!?!

About ‘Disability Arts International’:

“‘Disability Arts International’ aims to promote the work of the exciting generation of excellent disabled artists, disabled-led companies and inclusive arts organisations. It also aims to share the ways arts organisations are increasing access to the arts for disabled people as audiences and visitors.”

Find out more at:


This organisation work to open doors, create opportunities for disabled artists and educate or inform galleries, organisations and studios. I truly feel it will add a new dimension of understanding my work as an artist.

A Bit About Me:

I was diagnosed with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in 2009, but this degenerative, destructive, auto-immune disease has been with me since my teenage years. The constant pain, lack of mobility, irritating medications and challenges it gives me are intensely frustrating. Though I have other health conditions, it is the RA that deeply affects every part of my life.

Saying this, it is what you do with pain that matters. My late father said “I do as much as I can, when I can” and it is a saying I try to lead my life by. It also makes for interesting art, which allows me a way to vent good and bad into each piece in painting and clay.

Above: ‘Purple Punk’d Velvet’ on exhibition

Every aspect of my disability changes my art journey: the way you feel emotionally, how your disability transforms your life, how you are forced to adapt your every day life, how the struggle means you cannot create freely….

As I said, disability is a subject in my life and is close to my heart

I have struggled for decades with health issues. I do not speak of it often, but why not?

I will be addressing this part of my life in an interview with a difference… called the “The Heroine’s Journey”

I am definitely no heroine, but my life has been quite a complex roller-coaster-ride and definitely fits the word of a journey.

Above: Me aged 18 at my ‘A Level Art and Design’ final exhibition

I did not realise the fine nuances of disability, until my RA flared up and has stayed active since 2008, but it is not filled with just negatives and there are many positives I try to focus on.

This is a subject close to my heart, as I have struggled for decades with physical and mental health issues. I do not speak of it often in a public forum; however, my wish to share this part of my life adds a new dimension of understanding in my work as an artist.

Above: ‘Pink Punk’d Panther’

My art has always been an open representation of my inner self and it has reflected into the choice of colour, style and subject matter in my ‘Landscape Moods Collection’ mixed media paintings, started in 2002. The effects of my health added depth, meaning and passion to my work and is like an endless pile of ideas.

The artwork above was created in 1995, listening to the soundtrack of the film ‘Natural Born Killers’

I have created work (as shown above) from my heart from the age of 17, which has embodied my life within my art, in every medium I have explored and studied. It is since I was a teenager that music was a driving force in my work, by pulling out emotions from the melody and meaning.

Above: ‘Torn’ – Sold

The art I have created since 2002 is a series of mixed media paintings, called the ‘Landscape Moods Collection’, in which my emotions play a pivotal role for each painting. Despite the fact I have drawn on my feelings since I was a teenager, it is my daily experiences that drive this body of work. This series of mixed media paintings first created in 2002, called the ‘Landscape Moods Collection’.

Why did you put the word ‘Moods’ this collection the title of ‘Landscape Moods’?

The title of this collection took me some time to consider, debate and decide upon. The title needed to be self-explanatory, clear and short. I never wanted the title to be an essay, just two words and I chose the two words that epitomises my mixed media painting collection:

‘landscape’ & ‘moods’

The title can be broken down into two concepts. The first was the subject matter, which is ‘landscapes’, and the second is the motivation or inspiration of my work, which is the word ‘moods’. My work is filled with complex meanings; however, I wanted to express who I am, my core personality or an emotion that I was battling with or celebrating.

The painting below is titled ‘Angry Skies’ and it was painted “en plein air” or outside, under cover during a hail storm, here in the UK. The rain and hail symbolised that time of my life in 2007 and these feeling poured into the painting below. 

Above: ‘Angry Skies’ (2007) Sold with London Art

My art has always been an open representation of my inner self and it has reflected into the choice of colour, style and subject matter in my ‘Landscape Moods Collection’ mixed media paintings, started in 2002.

I drew the artwork during my ‘Art and Media BA (Hons)’ 1st year which I titled ‘Facets of Self’. It was a drawing from a series which where to explore 3 words:

  1. Self Portrait
  2. Facets of Self
  3. History

I created the drawing below during my Art and Media BA (Hons), which broke down my facets of self or pieces of who I am into 3, which can be seen as positive or negative:

Focus, laughter and emotion

Above: ‘Facets of Self’

Read more About Me In Artists Interview

Laura H Elliott BA (Hons)

March 2016

The Palette Pages Laura H Elliott Artist Interview by Lisa Gray

< Click Here For Interview >

Laura Elliott Artist Interview ~ The Palette Pages

Laura Elliott Artist Interview

The Palette Pages by Lisa Gray ~ Flux Exhibition

February 2016:

Iris Art Magazine ‘Signature Style’ written by Kahlid Rhaman

“Laura’s Artist Journey is Like a Rollercoaster Ride”

< Click Here For Interview >


Laura Elliott Artist Interview with Iris Art Magazine: ‘Laura Elliott’s art journey is a roller coaster ride’

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurahelliottart

Twitter @laurahelliott

Pintrest https://www.pinterest.com/lauraelliottart/

Linked In https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/laura-elliott-ba-hons/6b/959/533

#art #britishlandscapes #britain #landscapes #buybritish #laurahelliottart #laurahelliott #lhe #painting #metalclay #gemstones #artgallery #gallery #flux #fluxexhibition #degreeart #degreeartgallery #painting #artlover #artist #artwork #artcollector #contemporaryart #originalart #ownart #rca #contemporaryart #originalart #commissionart #buyart #buyartonline

• ‘Shedding Neon’ brings a new wave of drama to the ‘Landscape Moods Collection’

Above: ‘Shedding Punk’d Viper’ and ‘Dodge Punk’d Viper’

“Laura Elliott’s ‘Landscape Moods Collection‘ mixed media paintings reflect her desire to be constantly challenging and developing her work, which is taking a colourful leap forward in 2017.

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Her new body of mixed media paintings will explore surface textures and patterns, outline shapes and softer lines by using other mediums such as conte pastels to add softer lines, with a stark colour difference within the paint palette to add drama mood.

Above: ‘Purple Punk’d Velvet’ (2016)

Her upcoming exhibitions, during 2016 and moving into 2017, will be displaying her newest body of work.  The first painting in my new body of work started in 2016 and was titled ‘Counterpoint’. This body of work explores the concept of two opposing or contrasting elements; with the influence of texture from wood (the earth) and the formation or designs seen in waves (water) as the common thread, unifying the opposing elements of earth and water.

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Her paintings draw on these inspirations such as deer antlers which are naturally shed every year in constant renewal, exploring form and abstraction.

Her new body of mixed media paintings will explore surface textures and patterns, outline shapes and softer lines by using other mediums such as conte pastels to add softer lines, with a stark colour difference within the paint palette to add drama mood.

The metaphor for this new collection of paintings is the concept of shedding one part of life or skin and starting anew or fresh. Bright neon paints will add vibrancy, representing starting anew or fresh just like moving into a new year and body of work.

Above: ‘Pink Punk’d Panther’ – Sold

Above: ‘Flaming Punk’d Mustang’ sold during the ‘London Punk Revisited’ at 1of1 Designs with Degree Art Gallery 27th October – 24th November 2016

All artworks & designs displayed © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurahelliottart

Twitter @laurahelliott

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#art #britishlandscapes #britain #landscapes #buybritish #laurahelliottart #laurahelliott #lhe #painting #metalclay #gemstones #artgallery #gallery #flux #fluxexhibition #degreeart #degreeartgallery #painting #artlover #artist #artwork #artcollector #contemporaryart #originalart #ownart #rca #contemporaryart #originalart #commissionart #buyart #buyartonline

• Exhibition Focus: ‘Stimulus’ with Art Number 23 at The Municipal Art Gallery of Piraeus, Greece 26th-30th June 2017

26th – 30th June 2017: ‘Stimulus’ Exhibition with Art Number 23, The Municipal Art Gallery of Piraeus, Athens, Greece

About ‘Stimulus: Moduler & Space’:

“The ‘Landscape Moods Collection’ has been driven forward in 2017 by further exploring abstraction and subconcious designs, using a firey mixture of flourescent colours and a mixture of textural mediums. This collection of artworks are continually influenced by her thought processes, emotions and mood at the time of creation. This free expression enables Laura to draw on a lifetime of gazing at the stars, fascinated by Astrology and space. This set of three mixed media paintings explore her interpretation of the cosmos, titled: Interstella, Cosmos and Nebula.”

Above: ‘Cosmos’, ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Nebula’ by © Laura H Elliott

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurahelliottart

Twitter @laurahelliott

Pintrest https://www.pinterest.com/lauraelliottart/

Linked In  https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/laura-elliott-ba-hons/6b/959/533

#art #britishlandscapes #britain #landscapes #buybritish #laurahelliottart #laurahelliott #lhe #painting #metalclay #gemstones #artgallery #gallery #flux #fluxexhibition #degreeart #degreeartgallery #painting #artlover #artist #artwork #artcollector #contemporaryart #originalart #ownart #rca #contemporaryart #originalart #commissionart #buyart #buyartonline

• ‘Croydon Summer of Love’ 15th-28th August 2017 at Elizabeth James Gallery

‘Croydon Summer of Love’ Exhibition 15th-28th August 2017 at Elizabeth James Gallery

Above: ‘Strange’s Rainbow’ by © Laura H Elliott

Address: Elizabeth James Gallery, 10 Portland Road, South Norwood, London, SE25 4PF, UK

About the exhibition:

“Let’s adopt some of the positive aspects of that time; the love and peace to all, the colour, we really need to celebrate the summer time, we want to see with passion and vibrancy your vision of what summer means for you, for an uplifting exhibition.”

Above: ‘Spotty Punk’d Panther’ by © Laura H Elliott

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurahelliottart

Twitter @laurahelliott

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• Artist Interview: Degree Art Gallery Interview With Laura H Elliott BA (Hons)

Degree Art Gallery Artist Interview with Laura H Elliott BA (Hons)

Date: 14th March 2017

Read my full Degree Art Gallery artist interview at:  https://degreeart.com/blog/laura-h-elliott-energetic-art-featuring-emotional-content

1) Which art movement do you consider most influential on your practice?

The key influence in my work is from abstract expressionism, drawing inspiration from their energetic art featuring emotional content, spontaneous gestures, and often in monumental sizes. The way each artist practiced, channeled their emotions into each artwork has given me the conviction and has driven my work forward:

  • Willem de Kooning
  • Clyfford Still
  • Helen Frankenthaler
  • Mark Rothko

The quote below epitomizes why this movement drives my work, inspiring me to constantly channel my life and emotions into each artwork:

“I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it – drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, and my ideas about space. Through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or idea.” (Quote by Willem de Kooning)

2) Where do you go and when to make your best art?

My love of the outdoors, especially during the summer, always spurs my creativity. I now have a wonderful, compact or small, home studio where I can create and explore my art freely.

3) How do you describe your ‘creative process’?

My creative process is different in the two mediums I specialise in, which are: mixed media painting and metal clay. Due to my disability, my mediums require assistance during the creative processes, but this adds love into every piece I create. Once I pick-up my brush or my piece of clay, all my worries are put aside. Art is truly my therapy.


This medium is truly an unplanned process. The only aspect that I plan is my colour scheme, I layout my paints and other mediums, to create in a sub-conscious manner, using colour and mood to drive my work. Each painting is created in layers, building up colour and tones step-by-step, until I feel I have achieved the background. Then I add details and my signature.
It was 2016 when my paintings moved back into a free-flowing, abstract expressionist style featuring a bright colour palette. This highly enjoyable, free, relaxed painting style reflecting how my life has settled and how my emotions ebb and flow at this point in my life.

Metal Clay Designs:

This medium is the complete opposite, due to the nature of clay and the amount of tools required. I plan the basics of my designs in rough sketches and use these ideas as a starting point for each design. It is once I have started to create each piece that I refine the overall design and I can then create instinctively, as I do when I paint. Each design is a strict step-by-step process as below with a minimum of 12 steps for even the smallest metal clay design:

  1. Prepare the clay ready to work with
  2. Apply textures to the clay
  3. Roll the clay (thickness is dependent on type of clay being used) and cut for each element of the design
  4. Build the design
  5. Leave to air dry
  6. Kiln fire the design
  7. Soak in Picklean to remove fire scale
  8. Rinse with bicarb to neutralise Picklean
  9. Start to shine the fired clay with a wire brush
  10. Use an agate burnisher or polisher for bright shine
  11. Shine the piece with protective wax
  12. Mount stones
  13. The piece is ready to be worn

More about my work and my working process on my blog:


4) Which artist, living or deceased, is the greatest inspiration to you?

My first and most enduring love is the work of master artist Picasso and his cubist artworks, exploring colour, perspective and the transition of three-dimensional objects into a two-dimensional framework.

In addition, I have visited countless exhibitions and have explored a large range of mediums both practically and through academic reading. The artist that I deeply admire is David Hockney, who I think of almost like a kindred spirit to me. His exploration of perspective in both photography and painting are fascinating and reminds me of the cubist movement in many ways. The way Hockney flips perspective strikes a cord with me as that is something I like to play with in my paintings, along side the inspiration of the abstract expressionist movement.

5) If you weren’t an artist, what would you do?

I worked professionally in the nursing field from the age of 18 until I was 23. I adored the interaction with people, the challenges it brought and helping other people. Saying this, I was artistic as a young child, so the love and imagination has been there my whole life.

6) What do you listen to for inspiration?

It was when I moved into my late teens and early 20s, I found my paintings where inspired by music. I am a lover of heavy metal, filled with energy and feeling; however, I enjoy listening to all types of music now I am older.

7) Which 3 artists would you collect work by if money was no object?

  1. Picasso – Sculptures
  2. Clyfford Still
  3. Jenny Saville

8) If your dream museum or collection owner came calling, which would it be?

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

9) What is your key piece of advice for artists embarking on a fine art or creative degree today?

Use the summer breaks to create more artworks and read, especially the summer break between the 2nd and 3rd year. That break enables you to start your dissertation and be ahead for the start of the 3rd year. The 3rd year is so busy you need all the time you can get and it will significantly reduce your stress and work load.

10) What is your favourite book of all time (fiction or non fiction)?

I do not have an all time favourite book; however, I am a lover of reading and learning about life stories of people from all backgrounds, around the world.

11) If you could hang or place your artwork in one non traditional art setting, where would that be?

The non-traditional setting would be a Gothic church architecture, because of the contradiction having modern with Gothic.

12) What was the biggest lesson your university course or time studying taught you?

I was diagnosed in 2003 with Dyspraxia and Dyslexia, which was life changing. These learning difficulties of Dyspraxia and Dyslexia had profoundly impacted on my academic standard and life. I started university with low grades, but as time passed I worked really hard by always attending learning support tuition and reading as much as I could get my hands on. I truly believe that academic study is as important as the practical practice of art. The academic perspective on your course allows you to take a quality skill set into the art world, especially regarding working with spoken language, galleries and paperwork linked to this. I know that through my academic studies my quality of spoken language and organisational skills has significantly improved.

I always say that everyone should use the library as it is full of inspiration, knowledge and facilities to develop your education. Use the library staff and tap into journals as a quick way to understand a subject, especially as they are a few pages maximum. In addition, make the most of resources such as learning support to improve your written work and your support work during modules you study.

Mainly….enjoy your course!

With my best wishes.

13) And finally, if we were to fast forward 10 years, where would we find you?

I would still be working with Degree Art Gallery and continue to exhibit in new UK galleries and locations. I am working on a new body of work and high quality limited edition prints.

I would like to have achieved membership to ‘The Society of Women Artists’.

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurahelliottart

Twitter @laurahelliott

Pintrest https://www.pinterest.com/lauraelliottart/

Linked In https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/laura-elliott-ba-hons/6b/959/533

#art #britishlandscapes #britain #landscapes #buybritish #laurahelliottart #laurahelliott #lhe #painting #metalclay #gemstones #artgallery #gallery #flux #fluxexhibition #degreeart #degreeartgallery #painting #artlover #artist #artwork #artcollector #contemporaryart #originalart #ownart #rca #contemporaryart #originalart #commissionart #buyart #buyartonline

• The Heroine’s Journey of Laura H Elliott

My latest interview exploring who I am with more background on a personal level. Enjoy ~ Laura H Elliott

The Heroine's Journey

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

Firstly, I have never thought of myself as a heroine, but this is a unique interview and the questions allow me to explain more about who I am. It might add more depth of understanding of my art.

So, to answer the question:

I love the way art enables me a precious avenue of self expression, a true therapy and a way to relax. I adore the fact that when I hold a brush or design with clay, because my mind drifts and it turns into a short type of ‘holiday’ from my disability.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

I was proud to have not only gained my Art and Media Bachelor of Arts with Honors, but to have achieved a 1st for my dissertation. As I am both dyspraxic and dyslexic, it was a huge uphill…

View original post 1,392 more words

• Learning from Metal Clay Disasters

Learning from Metal Clay Disasters

Art is always a dose of luck and a large portion of experience. 

Nothing more was true when I set myself a goal to create a metal clay clock, with a completely different technique and design. This was my key piece of work for my exclusive collection of work at The Royal College of Art at Flux Exhibition, London, UK.
The clock was to contain the following key components:

  • Copper metal clay 
  • Sheet of Copper metal
  • Brass nuts and bolts x 4
  • Clock mechanism and clock hands
  • A simple, metal stand
  • 224 carat Labradorite round cabochon genuine gemstone

Above: The stunning 224 carat Labradorite round cabochon genuine gemstone as the central feature of the clock

It took me many tries to get the clock to work!! This is especially the case, now that I reflect on this process.


My first attempt to create this clock using 400 grams of Copper metal clay only with a sheet on 0.8 thick Copper sheet 15 x 15 cm.

Above: This was too thin and I carved the clay too deep, so it split

I rolled the clay into 2 tiles each using 200 grams each and I engraved the detail of trees, horizon and other details. I realise now that the clay needed to be thicker and use more clay. Once I fired this first attempt, I realised that the detail I had scored into the clay split during firing and both sheets where bowed.

Above: You can see daylight through because of the split clay


In the second attempt I used 300 grams of clay for each tile. One this design I used a flowery texture sheet, used syringe clay to add the trees and details. 

Above: It wasn’t fired correctly and it crubled!

This piece was spoilt for 2 key reasons:

  1. The texture pattern de-personalised the design and took away my personal touch.
  2. My kiln was one of the worse purchases for this medium. This meant that when firing the tiles could not be fired flat. The kiln also, unbenown to me, was not firing hot enough. When this second design was removed it was brittle, not sintered or under fired and meant to split and fell into pieces.


Above: The final piece ‘A Stitch In Time, Saves Nine’ by © Laura H Elliott BA (Hons)

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurahelliottart

Twitter @laurahelliott

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#art #britishlandscapes #britain #landscapes #buybritish #laurahelliottart #laurahelliott #lhe #painting #metalclay #gemstones #artgallery #gallery #flux #fluxexhibition #degreeart #degreeartgallery #painting #artlover #artist #artwork #artcollector #contemporaryart #originalart #ownart #rca #contemporaryart #originalart #commissionart #buyart #buyartonline

• Abstract Expressionism: A Movement in Modern Art

Abstract Expressionism: A Movement In Art

During the 1950’s a group of artists emerged that combined Expressionism and Abstraction into a new method or movement in art. This was known as Abstract Expressionism or the New York School. The key artists who where grouped into this movement are: 

  • Franz Kline, 
  • Jackson Pollock, 
  • Helen Frankenthaler, 
  • Clyfford Still, 
  • Mark Rothko
  • Robert Motherwell, 
  • Lee Krasner, 
  • Willem de Kooning
  • Ad Reinhardt, 
  • Barnett Newman, 
  • Arshile Gorky,
  • Elaine de Kooning

Abstract expressionism drew inspiration from their energetic art featuring emotional content, spontaneous gestures, and often painting on a monumental size.

Artist Focus: Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko

I aim to highlight their individual, yet overall, style and method of painting using their personal history and influences in life to understand how their art developed.

All these artists were linked by their methods, creating a common way to produce what was then viewed as groundbreaking art. Within this essay I will focus on three artists:

Above: A photograph of the members of the movement Including: Pollock, Krasner, Rothko and de Kooning

Around the time the movement Abstract Expressionism developed, huge social changes were felt and reflected in the art world, often having a direct impact on their work. The largest impact on the persona of the practicing artists during the 1950’s was the Second World War. Many of who had fled Europe for safety in America, others had heard stories of the suffering of the people of Europe and felt the direct impact due to bombings within their country. Unlike the First World War, advances in technology meant thousands of the world population were affected and experienced shortages of food and supplies. 

These direct links to Europe meant many of the key artists within this movement where heavily influenced by European artists, such as Picasso and Dali. Other movements such as Surrealism and Cubism directly influenced many of the Abstract Expressionist artists, allowing them to draw methods into their own original artwork.

An event which linked many of the famous Abstract Expressionists together was a large project, called ‘The Federal Arts Project’ (FAP). The US Government paid artists a low weekly income to produce murals and paintings. This allowed artists with no income to focus on their art. This project, despite its restrictions on the style and subject matter of the pieces commissioned, gave them credibility and status. Once established the artists on the project could then break away and begin to create unique work.

Two styles of painting were developed during this movement, the first popularly known as ‘Action Painting’ and the second was termed ‘Colour Field Painting’. A way to define each method would be to use examples of two artists, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

It could be argued that Jackson Pollock was the key figure in developing ‘Action Painting’, a technique which involved dropping or splashing paint onto the canvas, often turning the canvas, allowing the artists to work from all angles of the piece. Using a meat baster, piece of wood or trowel, the paint would be splashed onto the canvas, allowing gravity to influence the place the paint fell. This gave the artists a great deal of freedom and spontaneity in their art. The contrast is the method of ‘Colour Field’ painting. 

This style is opposite to ‘Action Painting’, allowing the artists to place colour and shapes in a calculated manner, controlling the position and mixing of the paint. An excellent description of this method is that it is a “softer calmer technique.” The images above allow you to really see the differences contained within the same movement. Another artist within this group is Willem de Kooning, an artist who almost stands apart yet linking Rothko and Pollock together with his style of painting.

Willem de Kooning: ‘Asheville’ (1948)

Mark Rothko:

Mark Rothko, originally named Marcus Rothowitz, was born in 1903, into a Jewish family in the Lithuanian town of Dvinsk. Rothko was brought up in an extremely strict and traditional environment. He grew up during the Jewish persecution and attacks in Russia, and this fear stayed with him for the rest of his life. After moving to America, Rothko was involved with the Federal Arts Project, where he met a number of his peers. He described himself as a self-taught artist despite the fact he was trained at The Arts Students League in New York for two years. In 1938, he became a citizen of the United States, changing his name to a more “American sounding” Mark Rothko. His techniques of colour fields are the main characterisation of his work utilising colours to convey subject matter and mood in his work.

This piece could be divided up into areas, due to his use of colour dividing it into sections. His work allows your own interpretation to be used in understanding the paintings. Rothko’s work has often been criticised in the past for “apparent blankness” which is “supposed to show contemporary art’s emptiness.” Such criticism, I feel reduces Rothko’s work to an empty shell, almost taking away the meaning of his work and aims. Suffering many years of depression, he often felt very sensitive to how others viewed his work and the journey it took them. He articulately illustrated this by saying: 

“If a viewer was sensitive and took time to look at the painting properly then it would ‘live’. If a viewer was unsympathetic or not sensitive then the painting would just appear to be meaningless and ‘dead’.”

 Jackson Pollock:

The second painter within the movement is the contrasting Jackson Pollock who was born in 1912, in Wyoming, United States. Aged 14, he began his life long battle with alcohol. Pollock trained at a Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles for a number of years. Later he also worked on the Federal Arts Project, but his mood swings, alcoholism and perfectionism led to an emotional breakdown and many years of artistic blocks. Picasso, Native American and Mexican artists heavily influenced his work, developing new styles throughout his career. Pollock became famously known, and frequently criticised, for his ‘Action Painting’ technique and became known as ‘Jack the Dripper’ in The Times.

Jackson Pollock: ‘Ocean Greyness’ (1953)

The key feature of the two artists highlighted thus far is their method of incorporating their inner emotions into abstract forms, thus creating such highly charged pieces. The Pollock piece above is a visual representation of his swirling and ever changing mood. With the use of a piece of wood or meat baster he would throw or drop paint from above, creating a sense of movement expressing the way the piece had been created. Such movement is the key feature I have found when viewing a Pollock piece. The movement that was also shown in Rothko’s piece previously, could almost represent the feedback loop of negative emotions that seem to have haunted Pollock.

Willem de Kooning:

The final artist I will discuss is Willem de Kooning. Born 1904 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, his parents were divorced and he lived with his mother who it is suspected abused him mentally and physically. Kooning was known in his younger days as “the handsome Dutch-man,” an interesting description when we see that many of his paintings included the female form possibly reflecting his exploration of his own sexuality. Kooning himself was quoted as thinking “…the idea of a palette rather silly” which illustrates his method of painting, mixing on the actual canvas.

The quote below epitomises his work:

“I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and colour. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it – drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, and my ideas about space. Through your eyes, it again becomes an emotion or idea.” – Willem de Kooning​

Willem de Kooning: ‘Evacuation’ (1950)

He uses angular lines to direct your eye; portraying the feeling of struggle, movement and human form. Interesting use of light and dark paint allows the feeling of depth to be implied, enabling us to see individual figures yet still permitting them to subtly blend into each other. This is an interesting piece that shows de Kooning’s individual style, yet it still illustrates his links to other artists. A linking influence on the work of de Kooning and Pollock is Picasso, who was still practising at this time, and other Cubist artists; both demonstrating throughout their artwork their exploration of Cubist mythology and abstract images.

So far the individual styles have been discussed in the context of history and paintings, but not the movement as a whole. Abstract Expressionism allows us to see how such a movement can develop into a monumentally important period in art history, in essence developing into a canon of art. The opinion on who led the movement or was the key figure is still being formed to this day, with Jackson Pollock arguably in the lead having recently been highlighted in the film ‘Pollock’ (2000). An interesting opinion is that the artists “...exploit the deeper levels of our psychology and social experiences…” which suggests that such art is in fact successful only as most of us can relate to the emotions conveyed in the art. This argument is developed further, by contradicting the theory or ideas of the Abstract Expressionist artists, by saying that:

“All the models are inclined to mistake actual themes- dynamism, chaos, space, traces of human presence- for somehow involuntary or detrimental eruptions.” (From Tom Wolfe’s 1975 satire ‘The Painted Word’.)

Really this suggests that in fact the artists didn’t work directly from the image within their mind, implying that their art was more calculated that what they claimed it to be, even planned. The strong link that was claimed to Surrealism and Freud within Abstract Expressionism could be disputed as they were working from their conscious mind, not from their sub-conscious mind. The idea was similar but not the same. After researching I also found that in fact Jackson Pollock’s vast therapeutic and supporting sketches gave him the scope to plan his work. After my own exploration of such a method of paintings, I find that their art gave them certain freedom due to the energetic method of applying paint and other medium and abstract shapes. These are illustrated in examples of other artists within the movement.

The overall opinion I have formed is like the two sides of a coin. Firstly, I feel that you cannot simply discount their abilities as I did when I first viewed Rothko’s work. The fact will always remain that this group of artists channeled their inner feelings into their art, to which I feel is the essence of why I paint. Allowing myself to travel on a journey when creating any piece of art certainly allows me to develop and create high quality work. The second side to this movement is its theory of random or spontaneous creation. Every artist forms an image in his or her minds eye, taking paintings away from the sub-conscious and drawing on the conscious area of their mind. If we look at where art traveled after this, we can name an artist such as Frank Stella, who was part of Minimalism, influenced by his peers but at the same time rebelling against the ebb and flow of the Abstract Expressionist movement. So I can ask, is this a movement in art? The answer is certainly an emphatic yes. The question of the impact of the Abstract Expressionist art certainly has been outlined. I feel that such art should never be discounted too quickly as it certainly was a move towards abstraction and contemporary art, as we know it.