I thought it would be intriguing to ask painters this simple yet complex question. This query comes with no ground rules—it’s up to each individual artist to find their own approach and direction.
This project will be an ongoing exploration … let’s see where it takes us.
What is Painting?
Featuring Ellen Soffer
For me painting is about looking and the physical process.
When I first started painting in art school I thought of looking at paintings as a way to enter a special space that was available by standing in front of a painting and looking.
I spent time looking at Picasso, Matisse, and Jackson Pollack paintings which were some of my favorites. I remember feeling that looking at paintings was a way to experience space in a new way.
Looking at paintings in a museum was and is an activity that is inspiring to me. Painting for me has the magical feeling of being able to stand in front of an object that may be very old or only a few years old and feel moved by having a contemplative experience.
With my own painting I don’t look at them very much after they are finished. I am more interested in the new paintings that I start. For me the act of painting is the exciting part, mixing up a color, applying it on the canvas. I am always making decisions while I am painting but it is intuitive and I try to keep it that way. I have some rituals, structures and systems that I use but I drop them if they come in conflict with the painting process.
Ellen Soffer, Shimmer 42 (green water), oil on canvas 60″ x 48″, 2014
Ellen Soffer is the proud recipient of several solo and group exhibitions. Her art resume is highlighted with solo exhibits at venues such as the Peacock Gallery at Georgia Middle State College in Cochran, GA, the Magale Library at Centenary College in Shreveport, LA and the East Bank Gallery in Bossier City, LA among others. Her group exhibitions include the “8th Louisiana Fine Arts Showcase,” at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA, “Working it Out” at The Painting Center in NYC, “Surface” at The Wylie and May Louise Jones Gallery at Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, CA and “Fresh Faces” at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas, TX.
Soffer was awarded with an artist residency at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL in 1984, 1988, and 1993. She also received the Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s Visual Arts Fellowship in 2007. Most recently, Soffer’s work was chosen for Studio Visit magazine and she spoke at Middle Georgia State College on her most recent body of work entitled, The Shimmer Series.
Ellen Soffer obtained her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BFA from her birthplace of Philadelphia at the Philadelphia College of Art. Soffer currently resides in Shreveport, LA where she continues her practice at a local art studio.
The What Is Painting? Project – More Featured Artists