Explosive colors surround Elisa Gomez. From blues so deep they almost look black to rich yellows and bright scarlet reds. Gomez’s works reach out, inviting their viewers to step closer and take in the stirring colors, compositions, and textures found on their canvases.
Like her works, Gomez’s life is full of color and zeal. She grew up in Salt Lake City, but after high school left for Las Vegas — a perfect location for her aspirations in hospitality management. But she quickly realized she was wildly unhappy working down this path and switched her degree to painting. She moved back to Utah, where at the University of Utah’s art program she was told that most of her former work wouldn’t count and she would have to start from scratch. Although this was discouraging, Gomez quickly realized that starting at the beginning was just what she needed.
It was in her first year at the U of U that Gomez found her passion for
abstract art. The first abstract piece she saw was a Rothko, in San Francisco. Gomez says she was “shooketh.” “Nothing had ever moved me like that.” For Gomez, abstraction took the power of feelings and put them into a visual space. “It just makes sense to my brain. It’s how I can best express myself; portraits, still-lifes, and landscapes just don’t do anything for me to create them. I saw abstraction and once I started doing it I just had to keep doing it.”
After earning her BFA, Gomez moved to Austin, where she stayed for seven years and had some of her first shows before she decided to embrace the van life. As a vagabond, Gomez pushed herself outside of her comfort zone and discovered a world rich in color and texture. She was hiking with her canvases, painting on the ground, stapling her canvas between trees, painting with her hands, and soaking in the inspiration of the world around her. While traveling in the van she fell in love with the textures and deep green colors of moss, the bright fiery yellows of aspen trees, and the dark blood-red dahlia she saw around her. Gomez says the the color of those dahlias “slapped me across the face.”
Gomez’s passion for nature and the abstract flow through each phase of her art process. She allows her inspirations to soak into her memory and then organically express themselves when she begins painting. “I never know what something is going to look like. I just see where the shapes and colors go.” While Gomez does paint on smaller canvases she prefers a canvas that is her size or bigger. She says there is a physical and performative aspect to her work that can’t happen when painting on a small canvas. Gomez also has a love for music and say’s that music often drives the gesture and fluidity of her works. She enjoys a large range of musical genres, from cumbia to classical. She listens as she paints, dancing on her milk cartons. She throws, smooshes, smears and grabs paint, constructing her work in a kind of gestural dance between canvas and artist. The organic and emotive nature of Gomez’s art process results in strong, stirring works whose colors and compositions speak to the feelings of one soul.
Gomez takes her time finishing her pieces. Once she feels happy with a work she takes a few days and then returns to the work to see if she still feels like it is truly done. To achieve the textures and colors found her in works, she layers multiple different mediums on her canvases. While there is a certain depth to her work she avoids creating so much depth that the work feels like a place in space. While oil paints are generally her favorite medium, she also loves the roughness of oil pastels. They leave texture and allow the canvas to be seen through the color, interrupting the space. She also likes the thinness of pencil lines and the textures that can be achieved with acrylics. Some of Gomez’s works feature drips of paint that race and run down the face of the canvas. To achieve these drips she either mixes oil and Turpenoid in a squirt bottle or just uses oil paints that she knows are runnier. She has also found that mixing oil paint with quick-dry gives it extra texture. In an effort to dry her paintings quicker she sets up heaters and has found that when you really heat up the quick dry fast that it shrivels and adds little touches of texture on the canvas. Gomez calls these “happy accidents.”
Gomez loves that abstraction allows everybody to get different things from her work. So much depends on where a person is in life and what associations they might hold with different colors. Elisa Gomez hopes that when viewers see her works that they will “feel anything that is unexpected to them. … It’s great when people feel something they weren’t planning on.” Her works are emotive, full of passion, lively, and inviting. They reach out, creating a space for any viewer to have a revelatory experience. Although she no longer lives in her van and works out of a studio, she still spends a lot of time outside, trail running and hiking with her dog. She yearns for the time when she was painting between trees or on the soft grass and still often takes her sketchbook or canvas paper outside seeking inspiration. Her passion for and inspiration from nature exudes from her work, touching the emotions of those who view her life-filled canvases.
You can view more of the artist’s work at elisagomezart.com.