Elizabeth Whitehouse is a contemporary artist living in the Midlands, UK, in a self-renovated toll keeper’s cottage on the banks of the Wyrley & Essington canal.
Her passion for creativity began when she won the school art prize and went on to complete her degree in Fashion at Bretton Hall College of the University of Leeds.
The human form became her primary interest after years of life drawing and, alongside her career in fashion and visual merchandising, she attended several courses at the St. Ives School of Painting, where she developed skills and experience through a very physical and direct approach to using paint. She works primarily in watercolour despite its tricky nature, it has the properties for the effects she wants to achieve...
Elizabeth adores all things vintage! Intrigued by their hidden histories she asks, “What is it that attracts us to clothing, ceramics and furniture that has been loved by someone else?”
The social history of everyday items gives them their own individual stories. In a previous life, a beautiful silk scarf from the 1960s may have been worn around the elegant neck of a young debutante, at the wheel of a sports car. Or was it tied tightly around the head of a busy housewife, over hair in rollers, dashing out to the shops to buy food for dinner that evening? That familiar rosewood corkscrew that appeared every Boxing Day at Great Uncle Fred’s party is now passed down to you. Its quality and function are so much better than a modern equivalent and it rewards you with happy memories each time you use it.
Elizabeth focuses her interest on this social history, drawing inspiration from the old black and white family photograph album and breathes new life into those portraits previously stored away in boxes. From formal settings to candid beach scenes, she uses the facial expressions and poses of the figures to produce original and lively paintings.
She looks to her beloved collection of vintage fashion with a driven focus on pattern & colour to further inspire the backgrounds to her portraits. The final paintings are snippets of happy nostalgia, treated in a new way, her own unique style of watercolour painting.
Her process begins in a sketchbook, planning a balanced composition and exploring colour choices. Then comes the moment when paint hits the paper and anything can happen! The unpredictability is both exciting and challenging - that’s what she loves about watercolours. In the final stages, she adds fine black lines to emphasise shifts in tone, giving movement to the image and keeping the eye engaged. These intuitive marks are her favourite part of the process and define her artistic voice.