Category: In The Artist's Studio

Inspired Abstract: In the Studio with Jeff Erickson

Studio 4 B&W

Growing up with an artistic family, Jeff Erickson was hugely influenced by his grandmother, an impressionist painter, who’s colorful and texture heavy brushstrokes would inform Erickson’s abstract and tactile style.

When describing his work, Erickson explains:

The experience of painting is a great escape from the complexities of life, and I always find myself creating an abstract scene of peacefulness, relaxation, and calmness. I’m drawn to water, the sea, the ocean, and these feelings show up in my abstract landscapes. I paint with oils and wax medium on canvas, gessoed hardboard, and paper. I’m able to create multiple layers of translucent colors and through the process of scratching, distressing, and dissolving, I’m able to capture depth and feeling within the painting. With each painting, I start with no end game. I allow the painting to develop and see where it leads me.

We were able to catch up with Jeff recently, wherein we asked him a few questions about his artistic process…

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by just about everything. I’m drawn to water, to light, the clouds, a thunderstorm. The colors in nature are just breathtaking, and when I paint, it’s the colors, and their combinations that reflect what I observe. My abstracts have a distinct landscape element to them, and I try to capture that emotion of nature’s colors in the work that I create.

"Up in the Clouds", Oil and Wax on Panel, 36 x 48 in.
“Up in the Clouds”, Oil and Wax on Panel, 48 x 48 in.

How do you describe your work?

I mainly use oil paints mixed with cold wax medium. I apply thin layers, one after another. I build up a complex color surface and distress it along the way. I don’t plan anything out, I let the painting evolve. Somewhere in the painting, I start to see a direction, an idea, an emotion that takes me further. I see the painting, almost like a complex math problem, that has but one solution, and with each layer, each stroke, each scratch, I’m one step closer to unlocking the solution. Sometimes it happens in an instant, other times it can be a struggle, but through the journey, a painting emerges.

"Moonlight Surf", Oil and Wax on Panel, 48 x 48 in.
“Moonlight Surf”, Oil and Wax on Panel, 48 x 48 in.

When did you start creating art?

I think I have been creating art since I was a child. I loved drawing. My grandmother was an American impressionist painter, and I would often watch her paint. At one point I wanted to be an architect, and my drawing focused towards that direction. I didn’t start painting until about 15 years ago. My first painting was an abstract, and it really grabbed me. I would paint off and on, but for some reason, my vision never completely materialized until I discovered the wax medium that I use. That was about 5 years ago, and I haven’t put down the brush since, so to speak.

"Overflow", Oil and Wax on Panel, 48 x 48 in.
“Overflow”, Oil and Wax on Panel, 48 x 48 in.

What makes your work unique?

I think my paintings are a direct reflection of me, my personality. My paintings start with an explosion of vibrant color, and gradually, layers and layers of more muted, more reserved tones start to mask and cover that vibrancy. In the end, you see a very serene, calming, and peaceful image, with a glimpse of what lies beneath. In many ways, that is who I am as a person, someone that is full of ideas, joy, and exuberance, but my outward projection to others can be a calming, even keeled, and at peace persona.

"To Paris by Train No.2", Oil and Wax on Panel, 48 x 48 in.
“To Paris by Train No.2”, Oil and Wax on Panel, 48 x 48 in.

What do you hope others see in your work?

Every painting that I do, is like a mini vacation from the complexities of life. I get to escape into my own little imagined world, and create something that is relaxing, peaceful, and serene. I hope the viewers of my work find that same experience, and reminds them in some way of a favorite place, a relaxing memory, where they can recall a tranquil moment in time.

Come experience and further explore Jeff Erickson’s impressive work up close and in person at the gallery nearest you.