Elizabeth Davant's creative journey has come full circle. She began taking studio art classes early in her childhood, continued through high school and into college, receiving a degree in Fine Art from Loyola University of Chicago. After graduation, Elizabeth participated in a few art exhibits, but found the art world daunting and was anxious about creating and sharing her work. She found satisfaction and comfort working with artists in galleries and focused on a career in art administration. Through working with artists, she realized she was not alone in having anxiety as a creative person. She felt a calling to help people learn ways to manage the emotions that can block one from their goals. Her art journey took a detour to focus on becoming a mental health counselor, using art as a healing tool to rediscover the peace of creativity. She went on to graduate from Appalachian State University and earned a MA in community counseling with a certificate in expressive art therapy. Elizabeth spent a decade working as a licensed professional counselor where she witnessed the healing power of the creative process. She has now gone back to painting full time and is excited to focus on creating and sharing her own work.
We are delighted to welcome Elizabeth to Lark & Key. Continue reading for more about her influences, inspiration and process.
How did you get started as an artist?
My mom said that I drew on the walls when I was in the crib. I was identified as a creative child or artist at a young age and took private lessons with a pastel artist by age 12. I went on to study studio arts, specifically drawing, painting and printmaking at Loyola University Chicago. After college, I was hired as a manager of a gallery that specialized in Native American Art, which propelled me into a career in arts administration. I enjoyed working with art, artists and collectors. Unfortunately, my art making was limited to weekends and evenings. Soon I left the gallery world and went on to become a mental health counselor with a certificate in expressive arts therapy. As my career shifted and turned, the one constant was my art making. Over the years, I have continued to explore various mediums and forms of art. I’ve always felt the most complete and at peace when making art and finally have the opportunity to focus on my art full-time.
What are your biggest influences?
I was fortunate to grow up in a Chicago suburb that supported arts education. My schools made multiple field trips to the many museums in Chicago. My favorite museum was the Art Institute of Chicago, specifically, the impressionist collections. I was mesmerized by the ability to use color to create a mood and story. I was also fortunate to be raised by a strong feminist mother who ensured I knew female artists like Frida Kahlo, Camille Claudel, Mary Cassatt, and Georgia O’Keeffe. She wanted me to know about female artists that were courageous and driven to share their voice in a world that didn’t want to hear from women. My current work is inspired by so many creative women that have encouraged me to put my creative spirit front and center. Female artists inspire me to take risks, share my vision and follow my bliss.
What five words best describe your work?
Peaceful, calming, soft, atmospheric and textural.
Tell us a bit about your technique.
I draw inspiration from photographs I take on hikes, walks or travel. I enjoy the serendipity of art making, so, I don’t tend to plan out my process and may change the image all together. I begin with a layer of bright bold oil color and then begin to add layers of oil and wax. The wax allows me to carve into the surface to draw images and reveal past color. I’m a fan of mediums that allow me to start over or transform images easily. I get to build and break down the surface.
What is a typical workday like for you?
I tend to spend the first part of my day reflecting on my work, then start mixing colors. I like to mix my own colors and will spend some time creating my palette. Color tends to be my primary focus. Sometimes this can be a problem because I tend to spend more time thinking about color than composition. At some point, time disappears and I get lost in the process. I work on several pieces at a time and will take a few days off of painting to allow layers to dry and to take some time away from my work. A key part of my art making involves spending time outdoors. I walk, garden or hike every day, paying close attention to color, textures and atmosphere.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
Working with my hands and making things. I love the ability to take an image that is potentially failing, looking terrible and turning it around - making it something aesthetic. One can see this in nature all the time. A log that has fallen and rotting into the earth may appear ugly, but underneath there are beautiful little mushrooms or amazing green lichen and moss growing all over it. I love the ability to transform.