Suma Z Elan

Almost 30 years ago, I discovered art therapy at a challenging time in my life, and subsequently it added a creative niche to a career in psychotherapy.  This interest eventually bloomed into a serious study of oil painting, and I took lessons and classes from several well known local painters at Maude Kerns Art Center and  Lane Community College.

Abstract landscape and non-representational abstraction have been my main subjects or themes.  No matter the subject, however, I am interested in imparting something mysterious and moody, that hints at the wholeness of life, with its cycles and patterns, its darkness and light. Appearing often in my paintings, trees, in various stages of their life-cycle, symbolize life/death in nature and in our human existence.  This abstracted and poetic way of painting is achieved through layering, adding, subtracting, scratching and scribbling. The work is intangible and inarticulate—leaning towards imperfection and impermanence, an intent to impart signs and traces of the processes of life, death, and forces beyond our control.

Many of my paintings are on top of a former painting that I’m willing to radically change  or almost completely cover.  I have come to accept this approach, as it offers unintended colors in chance locations, and an opportunity to respond to something already there, rather than starting with a blank canvas.  I find the pieces painted this way to be my most spontaneous and unique.

Recently, I have discovered encaustic painting, which is a method of applying melted wax to a substrate the wax cooling quickly into a solid.  By adding layers of wax paint, oil pastels, and/or collage materials, then fusing with a heat gun between each layer, depth and texture is created.  I enjoy the many ways of working with encaustic, from scratching into it, incising it, then filling in with wax paint or an oil paint crayon, to using the plain medium as a layer over collages or natural objects. This medium creates depth and subtlety, and lends itself well to the “wabi sabi” aesthetic I lean towards.

My work has been shown and received awards in the Eugene Mayor’s Art Show, Karin Clarke’s Biennial exhibit, Maude Kerns Art Center, DIVA, the Eugene Public Library.