The Fourth Artist Profile in the series showcases the work of Erika Huddleston. Erika is an artist cum landscape architect.  We went to high school together in Dallas and since then Erika has dabbled in textile design, interiors, art, and landscape. She is truly an example of the well rounded artist.  Here we go.

Landscape Recording: Static/Dynamic IV”, 2011, oil on canvas, 32 x 40

How did you get into painting and art? and What is your training?
I have painted all my life and enjoy trying out new materials and techniques.  I went through a phase of being into earth pigments and went into the Kremer Pigments shop in Manhattan all the time buying gilding gold leaves and linseed oils.  I also ordered bags and bags of colored powdered pigments from Sinopia in San Francisco and used casein and different matrices and did some wall murals– always testing.  But, my first real academic class in painting was in college where I had an inspirational professor named Don Evans.  He lives in Nashville and encouraged us to let the paint’s physical properties direct our work.  He grew up in Abstract Expressionism.  It was in New York at Parsons School of Design that I learned more about the decorative arts and began incorporating space and place into my art.

Landscape Recording III: Static/Dynamic, oil on canvas, 32 x 40, 2011; Hay + Straw II, oil on canvas, 23 x 40, 2011

Do you see yourself as a landscape designer who paints or as a painter who also does landscape architecture?

I have an MLA — Masters in Landscape Architecture– and I love urban green spaces– living in New York made me value anything of the natural world.  I am currently studying the ways and means of creating more “urban wilderness” for cities as a psychological help to people who experience “change” in their personal lives and need to see proof of change in nature.  My paintings record particular urban greenspaces and their natural changes. So far, I’ve done series of paintings on Shoal Creek Greenbelt in Austin, Texas and White Rock Creek Greenbelt, in Dallas.  I guess I’m a landscape architect who paints to understand sites.

Landscape Recording VII: Static/Dynamic, oil on canvas, 32 x 40, 2011; Landscape Recording V: Static/Dynamic, oil on canvas, 9 x 14, 2011

Where do you find inspiration? What would you say influences your work?
I’m inspired by cars from the 1950’s and 60’s! Their chrome and thick metal bodies.  The complex curves and weightiness.  They are functional and grandly decorative. Their paint colors. Also, when I see “weathering” in any material I’m always inspired. . . petrified wood, rot, fungus, oxidation,. . . allowing these processes to happen and planning for their unpredictability in our controlled world. . .

Hay + Straw I, oil and gold pigment on canvas, 23 x 40, 2010

What is your process? 
I choose a site– normally an urban greenspace– and walk the site for several hours. Then I decide on a place in that site to analyze and I bring my canvas and oil paints.  I draw the underdrawing in a #2 pencil and then return to the spot and paint onsite all day for several days, sitting on the ground. Painting directly onsite without photography is important to me because I want to avoid digital interfaces between me and the experience.  Painting can be quite emotional and direct.

Thanks Erika!  Look out for more of Erika’s input on a future post about art collecting!