Capturing the essence of things
This story was featured in the March 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
When Aimee Erickson first entered college, she planned on majoring in English. As a child she had taken painting classes but never considered art as a career. But during her freshman year she did sign up for an art class, and thus the seed was planted. Unfortunately she found that the class made no sense to her. “It was all abstract and symbolic,” she recalls.
Erickson transferred from Willamette University in Salem, OR, to Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, and started taking classes in the illustration program, a course of study which gave her a valuable foundation in drawing. After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree, she supplemented her art education by taking workshops with Sherrie McGraw, Burton Silverman, and Eric Jacobsen. Today the Oregon-based artist captures an array of subject matter when it comes to landscapes, from a Hood River rail yard to a Portland city street at twilight. She is fond of comparing her street scenes to music. “Streets are so familiar. I travel on them all the time,” she says. “Every once in a while things just fit. It’s like hearing a prolonged jumble of voices and then, suddenly or gradually, everyone hits their notes. Harmonies emerge, and it’s music.”
Last year Erickson’s street scene DOWN TO CANNERY ROW took first place at the Carmel Art Festival, judged by Calvin Liang. And one of her figurative works received the award for Best Two-Dimensional Artwork in the 2013 American Women Artists National Juried Show at RS Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg, TX.
Erickson doesn’t limit herself to street scenes and plein-air landscapes, though. She also is an accomplished figurative painter, and in 1997 she became the first woman artist to paint an Oregon governor, Barbara Roberts. Whether she paints landscapes, figures, or still lifes, Erickson’s style is usually loose and impressionistic. “My interest lies in the essence of things, in the beauty of nature, and in cycles of consciousness,” she says. “My paintings include all sorts of subject matter—figures, landscape, and still life—all with draftsmanship and design as a foundation.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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