Artist Profile: Elizabeth Congdon, oil painter
Elizabeth Congdon recalls always being “that kid, drawing constantly.” An art major in college, Congdon went to Florence for her junior year to learn how to draw and paint well. Today, whether she’s painting a home interior, still life or landscape, passion pervades Congdon’s work—and with it, a hint of Italy.
When she began graduate school at Parsons School of Design in New York, Congdon embraced a palette of oils that includes cadmium yellows, blues and white. “You can create any color from my palette,” she says. “Currently, I am reintroducing neutrals and black....” It was during this stint in New York that she began stretching linen and priming it with rabbit skin glue, to give it a “paper bag” color—a base layer very similar in color to Cape Cod sand. This medium, she explains, “is effective for painting on the Cape because the neutral tone keeps colors from being too bright. It’s like building from the ground up.”
Once Congdon married and began a family, she fell in love with teaching, first at the Newport Art Museum in Rhode Island. “I had so much experience painting, it was translatable,” she says. Currently, Congdon is a graduate student in the Painting MFA Program at Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach, California. She looks forward to becoming an accredited college-level art teacher. “I love to connect with people,” she says. “That’s what art is about. It makes me feel more human.”
A resident of Jamestown, Rhode Island, Congdon returns to her family home on Nantucket as often as possible. “Nantucket is my home,” she says. “It is my sanctuary. Even in February, I have that feeling of being in love, that sense of place tied to a teeny piece of land. I want to transmit that in my work.” Painting outdoors—en plein air—is central for the artist: “Summertime is a time to paint and go out on the moors to the places I love on Nantucket. I have little places I go, where I try to find something familiar, but new.”
Congdon also teaches summer workshops for the Artists Association of Nantucket. “One thing I love about the Cape,” she says, “is the memories of the Cape are so pure and so warm. I think people feel safe and find sanctuary on the Cape and Islands. People respond to a feeling of safety and sanctuary in my work.”
Elizabeth Congdon is represented by Robert Foster Fine Art, 8 India Street, Nantucket; the Artists Association of Nantucket, 19 Washington Street, Nantucket; and Fuller Gallery, 42 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown, Rhode Island. More information about the artist can be found at elizabethcongdonart.com.