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The Art of Layering and Texturing

ELIZA GEDDES’ ARTISTIC PASSION began at a very young age. She remembers falling in love with everything from papier-mâché to sculpting with something as simple as a pipe cleaner.

“I dove into every art and craft medium I could, both at school and at home,” Geddes ’97 recalls. “In my free time I would teach myself how to marbleize paper, decoupage, and create a multitude of mixed-media collages.”

It was a passion that persisted, and art remained Geddes’ primary focus at Taft. She has fond memories studying under the guidance of Gail Wynne, and she received the Thomas Sabin Chase Award in art her senior year. Geddes went on to get her B.A. in art history from Trinity College in 2001.

“Having that strong foundation of the history of art is an important building block for any contemporary artist,” she emphasizes. “While pursuing my major, I became completely captivated with abstract expressionist art developed in with a focus on color combinations, and she chooses to work with house paint over oils or acrylics.

Ink Series #1, 2018, collage of ink on assembled raw canvases, 42 in. x 70 in.

Ink Series #1, 2018, collage of ink on assembled raw canvases, 42 in. x 70 in.

“There is an endless selection of colors available with traditional house paint,” she explains. “I love the juxtaposition of combining safe colors with more shocking tones.”

Her technique involves an extensive process of layering and texturing the canvas with markings and patterns using a foam brush, blue painter’s tape, and a putty knife—materials she calls somewhat unconventional. She draws inspiration from artists such as Cy Twombly, Lee Krasner, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Presiding themes in her paintings include surface, shape, texture, movement, and balance. The interaction and repetition of shape and texture provide entry points with which to navigate her work.

“I love to paint what I like to look at,” Geddes says. “It seems simple, but it’s satisfying to choose the content, color, and scale of an artwork and create something that resonates with me.”

Conversely, the toughest part of being an artist for Geddes is wrestling with her inner critic. “A painting can be a complete disaster up until it’s a complete success,” she admits. “Knowing when that switch is flipped is vital.”

Geddes also shares important wisdom about the nature of being an artist in general. Specifically, she warns of becoming too preoccupied with the financial part.

“It’s hard to predict what will sell, but creating with only sales in mind will leave you nowhere,” she says. “In the end, authenticity is more appealing and more rewarding. It’s a fine line, and I feel lucky that I am able to sell what I love creating.”

Geddes’ work has been displayed at numerous exhibitions across the U.S. and in London, and is currently installed in three permanent collections in New York. Her studio is located on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Her younger son, Thor, is battling a rare genetic disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy. “Thor’s spirit remains my biggest inspiration,” Geddes says.

Geddes is excited to keep creating and sending her art out into the world while always staying true to her own vision.

“That I haven’t changed course to have my work fit into a particular place or trend with the times…that is something I’m most proud of,” she says.

You can view many of her paintings on her website, elizageddes.com, and on Instagram, @elizageddes.

—Carola Lovering Crane ’07