Elizabeth Elequin is an artist of Mexican, Irish & Filipino descent & her work is as bold & vibrant as the cultures that have filled her life. She creates her work on a grand scale – large paintings of splendid blossoms & botanicals, interwoven with organic patterns that pay tribute to the glory of nature… all culminating in a kaleidoscope of color. But do not confuse her portrayal of flowers – a well-known & well-visited subject matter – as mundane & expected. Elizabeth’s blooms fill a room with all their colorful glory & brilliance. They are whimsical, breath-taking & delicious … they make you love them.
Elizabeth grew up in a military family moving often. Her father retired in San Antonio, Texas where she remained for many years. She studied fine arts at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. She would later marry an U.S. Air Force officer, again moving often, & eventually returning to San Antonio, Texas where she now resides. Elizabeth has exhibited her work in California, New York, Florida & Arizona. She is currently showing her work in Texas, New Mexico & Colorado.
“I breathe LIFE into my paintings with vibrancy, devotion & passion – they in turn, most surely give my LIFE meaning & existence.” – Elizabeth Elequin
When you take a flower in your hand & really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
Why did you start painting? What was your first painting?
Like many kids I started drawing as soon as I could pick up a crayon. The difference with me was I never stopped even as I got older. My father is a multi-talented man himself and he inspired and helped me with my very first painting – a tree – which I painted when I was in elementary school. I still have this painting to this day and it hangs in my studio. I would not create another painting until I was in college but that painting’s subject matter would also be organic/nature – seedpods. It was at that moment, after my first painting class in college, I knew I wanted to abandon my commercial arts aspirations and become a fine artist – a painter.
My first pet painting would not happen until 2010 when with the help of my 8 year old son we painted our Boston Terriers Lucylola and Moonpie on a large 6’ x 4’ canvas. I painted the pups and he helped me paint the background. I loved it so much I started creating more paintings of our Boston’s. Then friends saw these paintings and started asking for their own pet portraits.
What does your work aim to say?
My pet portraits are not photo realism paintings – rather they are my interpretation of the pet in a colorful and whimsical manner. They are meant to honor the pet in the most loving way – reminding their owners of the bond they have with these beautiful animals.
My botanical paintings are all about the experience – emotion, association, enjoyment – not the message. I like to hear what the viewer takes away from my paintings – what they see and what they feel. I find that far more interesting and rewarding than passing on my own experiences.
What are your biggest influences and inspiration?
When I was in college and just beginning to paint, everyone told me my work looked like Georgia O’Keeffe. I was not familiar with her and had to look her up. I was astounded at the similarities. Since then I have aimed to create a style particular to me but I still have that connection with her for 2 basic reasons: subject matter and color usage. Every time I see one of her paintings I am astounded by her talent. Another artist who inspires me is Amedeo Modigliani both in my botanical and pet paintings. His images are concentrated color and modest lines – simply striking. For me, his painting evokes so much emotion.
Other than painting pets, what else do you paint?
My main focus are my very large botanical paintings. Flowers, seeds, fruits and vegetables – and sometimes insects and shells – are my subject matter. The majority of my botanical paintings are on the large side and full of color. For me, it is the color that preoccupies my creative direction.
I also paint violins, cellos, electric guitars and acoustical guitars. I painted my first musical instrument – a violin – for a symphony fundraiser a decade ago. That one little violin led to another violin. Then I started painting for a custom guitar company. Instead of painting a guitar and then having my husband build out the instrument, this company sends me the body. I paint it – not even having to seal it – send it back and they do EVERYTHING else. You can see these guitars at www.gzguitars.com.
Extremely popular in Texas are my painted animal skulls – longhorns, coyotes, javelinas, deer, rams, etc. I originally saw painted skulls in Arizona but the artwork revolved around Indian heritage. I wanted to take this art form and make it me – merging my paintings with the skulls. Since then I have established a clientele consisting of hunters, ranchers and farmers – all of which bring their own trophy skulls to me to custom paint.
Do you have a favorite painting?
The favorite of my botanical paintings is a diptych called Elisheva. I was working on this 2 panel painting when I found out I had a brain tumor. I finished the paintings 2 days before my surgery to remove the tumor and when I came home to recuperate, they were hanging in the bedroom where I could see them every day. Even though my style has evolved since then, I could never part with these since they are such a part of my life that was defining.
The favorite of my pet paintings is Moonpie on Red Roses. Of all my paintings of Moonpie, and there are many, this is the one that captures her personality completely. The rose background takes my botanical paintings and merges them with my pet paintings. I originally created this painting to donate to a local restaurant but after finishing it I could not bear to part with it.
Where do you show your art?
My botanical paintings and painted skulls show in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Telluride, CO and San Antonio, TX. My pet portraits and skulls show here in San Antonio, TX.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio? Tell us about your studio? What’s your special place like?
My rolling easel. I have a simple pine easel and a beautiful vintage easel, but when I went looking for a new easel I knew exactly what I needed. Now I have this beautiful dark wood, heavy, rolling easel, with custom brass hardware … and a chewed leg. Yep, when I got my Boston Terrier Pup, Oohlala, last year, she put her touch on my easel. It upset me at first until I realized that I plan on having that easel for a very long time and every time I look at the chewed-up leg, I will be reminded of my little cinnamon Boston. I’m even thinking of painting her name in copper on the bare wood!
What’s your favorite color?
I was never able to land on one favorite color until I was 50. It was then the color red started to really make its way into all my works. I stayed with red for a few years but now I have moved onto orange. No telling what it will be in a few more years!
Do you have a muse(s)?
I do have a muse when I’m painting my pet portraits … my beloved Boston Terrier, Moonpie Sassafras. She has been the subject matter of many of my paintings. Each time I paint her, I learn something new about her and myself. She always inspires me with her smile!!!!
I do not have an inspirational muse in my botanical paintings that directly effects my creative process but I do have a mentor – Sara Eyestone, international artist and my curator in New Mexico. I have learned so much from her – not just about being an artist, but about being a business woman. I would not be where I am now if it had not been for her influence on my career.
We are aware of your love for Boston terriers which is how we connected – tell us about your first experience with a Boston terrier and how you became a breed connoisseur?
I saw a Boston Terrier on a TV commercial and just loved they way they looked. After doing research on the breed we adopted our first Boston Terrier, Lucylola, in 2006. We were so charmed with her we would go on to add to our family Boston Terrier girls: Moonpie Sassafras, Jujube Picatinny, Yoo-Hoo Pussywillow and Oohlala Chachacha. I can’t imagine not having one of these funny little pups in my life.
We know you have pups… do you want to tell us about your human family too?
I have two sons, Nathaniel a senior in high school and Alexander a senior in college. They are complete opposites in every way. They keep me on my toes and always keep me laughing. My husband, Joseph, of 25 years is my biggest supporter and advocate. My two stepchildren, Danika and Christian, now have families of their own but both embrace my art and display my works their homes. Achieving success in the fine arts business is very difficult – there are so so many talented artists out there. I could not have accomplished all I have without my family’s love and support.
With a full family, how do you find time to paint?
It is difficult, but like any working Mom, I just find a way. Ever since I was able to have my own studio space in the home, I found it was easier to find time to paint. I could leave a project out and then return and pick up where I left off. Even if it’s just for an hour. I have always been a night owl and find I am most creative at in the evening and early morning hours – when everyone is asleep and all the chores are finished.
How long does it take to paint a pet portrait?
A 12” x 12” portrait typically takes me 3-5 days to complete. That begins with the planning/sketching phase, then moves onto the painting and finished with the sealing and wiring. I work from photographs so the more accurate the photo is the faster I can complete the painting.
How does one go about requesting your services? what are the costs involved and what is required for your services?
To request a custom painting is very simple. Once contacted – either by email, text or phone call – I provide a pricing sheet – giving numerous options of size, types of canvas and pricing. Then we discuss the photo requirements. If no photographs are available, I will take photos of the pet myself. Then we discuss backgrounds. I do not collect my fee until the painting is completed and the client is 100% happy with the art work.
How do you determine the background of your pet portraits?
The background is very important. I suggest colors that either compliment the pet or the home. In some cases, the client will provide photos of their home so I can match patterns and colors or a particular image that is sentimental to the pet or owner can be incorporated into the painting. I have painted pups with their toys or even them wearing a hat or crown. I always incorporate the pet’s name somewhere in the composition – either on the color/tag or in the background.