Liz Adams (aka E. Adams, as she signs her paintings) personifies “inspiration” and I was fortunate to catch up in her Harlem, New York City studio between adventures in painting and poetry in Southeast Asia, France and England.
As we sipped tea and began to talk, North Light filled her studio, producing controlled value shifts basking her paintings-in-process in the cool, indirect light artists — most famously Vermeer — have valued through time because no harsh shadows are cast in the studio as the sun moves during the day.
Liz Adams is vivacious, brave and brilliant, clearly in love with people, painting, writing and reading her poetry and the artistic process. She is a painter of joy en plein air, still-life, macarons, peonies. She paints portraits of herself and others. Like Sargent before her, her remarkably skilled portraits capture the soul of her sitters. Her artwork is so sought after she has a waitlist. Unless you happen to catch her painting out of the studio and snap up an en plein air painting from her easel, you may have to wait the proverbial “moment or two” and salivate in anticipation.
SUZE BIENAIMEE: Liz Adams, painter, poet, collector of adventures, joy and the soul in portraits — you inspire me. What inspires you?
LIZ ADAMS: As a painter, I am very inspired by people. I love painting portraits and figures. I aim to go beyond the appearance of the subject and tap into their mood, energy and emotions. The exchange between subject and artist has always fascinated me.
I have always been inspired by travel — going to new cities, each with a unique flavor to them. I love to paint outside in parks and gardens and views in the middle of a city. It is an interesting form of mediation to paint en plein air, studying one tree, one view, or even one flower for a length of time. I don’t know of another time in life, except when I’m painting, that I allow myself three hours to look at one thing!
I LOVE COLOR! I ADORE PAINT!
I love color! My long-held favorite is pink. My paintings with pink have included pink peonies, macarons, ribbons… any way I can add my beloved magenta onto my palette! I love the vibrancy of the color and for me it symbolizes feminine strength.
I adore paint. I have since my first oil painting class. I especially love the feeling of starting a new painting: the first pass of color where anything is possible and the end is far away.
Artists I have been inspired by include Jenny Saville, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and most recently Helene Schjerfbeck who had a one-woman show at the Royal Academy.
Music can also be a lovely inspiration. I like many different genres, but I often listen to trance or house music as the repetition helps me get in a workflow.
POET / POETRY
Poetry is also an inspiration that is a part of my creative practice. I notice I am now starting to write about my paintings and paint about my poems. I am interested seeing the two disciplines merge. Of course, reading a poem by a favorite author is a balm. (Currently I am reading Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds, Ocean Vuong and Chen Chen.)
On a fragment of old canvas,
I draw my face in ultramarine
thinned with turpentine.
It drips and runs,
sagging in strange places.
I move to the shadows,
see form emerge —
darkness carving me
into something real.
I take up the palette knife
and commence with color.
as wildly as my attempts
The whites of my eyes are glossy
and pink like my grandmother’s
One eyelid is rose,
the other, lavender.
It was a very long year.
The negative space above
is much bigger than me.
I keep losing things —
my place on the canvas,
my place in this city.
Mixing colors bolder than nature,
I capture the weight of surrender:
myself an amalgam
of jarring cadmiums and sienas.
I arrange the background
with garish yellow designs,
disorienting in their repetition.
My hair remains
where cornflowers fall.
LIZ ADAMS: I could go on, for indeed inspiration is varied, expansive and constantly shifting, but these are in the forefront of my mind today.
SUZE BIENAIMEE: Thank you Liz! It’s a joy to have you on StudioSeeds.com and I’m sure readers will enjoy learning about you and seeing your paintings. Again, thank you for inspiring StudioSeeds!
RESOURCES, A POEM and MORE PORTRAITS BY LIZ ADAMS
Self Portrait as a Still Life
I’ll be the robin’s-egg blue
pitcher in my mother’s pantry —
Where I would search for silver
and linens on fine Sundays.
Or, given the choice, a pink peony
flush with a whorl of nowness.
I’ll speak to you boldly with my hues:
titanium white, quinacridone rose.
One hundred petals of a story —
each ruffled and veined,
Leading to my egg-yolk
center of golden ocassions.
Cup me in your hands, bury
your face in my perfumed core
Where the colors congregate
before fading at the edges.
Set me in the blue pitcher,
let the right light catch.
PORTRAITS BY LIZ ADAMSLiz Adams: Artist of Joy & the Soul — Portraits, Self-portraits, Still Life, en Plein Air, Poetry — A World-traveler & Infinitely Inspired! StudioSeeds Inspire By Suze Bienaimee