In many respects it is predestined that artist, Elaine Coombs would live and thrive in San Francisco. This City’s urbane, innovative, yet intimate qualities are complemented by a surrounding wealth of verdant, lush wildnerness replete with trees, light, color, flora & fauna not found in many other cities. These are the qualities that initially drew Ms. Coombs, a native of Toronto, Canada, to San Francisco in 2000.
“San Francisco is a small yet cosmopolitan city – small enough to get to know people easily but big enough to not run into them all the time. And with the influence of the technological and creative wealth of the greater Bay Area, I think it is one of the most vibrant places in the world to call home”
Ms Coombs’ uses photography in her creative process to capture light & shadow as she draws on the outdoors for inspiration. Walks through the nearby Muir Woods Redwoods Forest (which John Muir called “the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.”) is a favorite ‘muse’ of hers. San Francisco’s iconic Washington Square Park in North Beach is another & the subject of a few works on display at Garden Court Antiques. As Coombs returns to projects, sometimes months later, these photographs serve as inspiration for her work.
Lengthy experimentation, what Coombs calls “playing around” has culminated in an artistic process of expertly placed dots of color that shimmer with light & depth which convey the artist’s deep connection with the outdoors. Coombs does not use a brush. Her art is created with knives, palette knives of wood & steel that flex offering her the perfect painting response.
“I can’t imagine going back to using a brush again to create an image. I even prime my canvases with a knife.”
But, maybe, its best we let the artist speak for herself:
There is something about being in nature that makes me want to seek out these spaces time and again. Perhaps it is a memory conjured from my rural childhood; positive feelings of comfort, stability and happiness come to mind easily. It seems whenever I simply need to regroup, breathe and return to center, it is the forest that can do this for me every time.
In the studio, I refer to printed photographs I have taken on my nature walks, which inform my acrylic paintings. Intuitively, my eye separates the patterns of color that I see in the photo and translates these into a complex mosaic of dots on the canvas. Over time, the methodical application of the dot technique has become in itself a meditation of sorts. I am peacefully absorbed in the process of painting the work, which I hope is imparted to the viewer with a pleasurable feeling of well-being similar to what I feel actually being in the forest.
My unique way of interpreting a photograph owes some debt to the digital age and to the proliferation of pixelated imagery that I have grown up absorbing. As an artist I enjoy the process of separating an image into parts, breaking it down and then building it up again in a slightly altered fashion. My work has the dual aspect of seeming realist from afar and yet is quite abstract at near view. It is this dichotomy, achieved in the successful play of opposite modes of seeing that I feel is the most contemporary aspect of my work.
Featured works by Elaine Coombs can be viewed at Garden Court Antiques presented by Art Consultant, Laurie Ghielmetti Interiors + Art. Additionly, Ms Coombs creates commissioned works in conjunction with a designer, art consultant or gallery exploring a client’s personal connection to their outdoor environs.
Elaine’s paintings have been exhibited both nationally and internationally in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, London, and Singapore. Her work has been seen in a number of publications, notably: California Home + Design Magazine (2007); Art Calendar Magazine (2009); and a new book entitled Green Art: Trees, Leaves and Roots (2014). Several notable collections have acquired her paintings; the U.S. Department of State – Art Bank Program, and the Ritz Carlton Highlands Hotel in Lake Tahoe, California – as well as numerous corporate and private collectors worldwide.^jh