Artist of the Month: Elena Feret

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Jun 16, 2017 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

 

Magic.

When I look at Elena Feret's work, I fall deeply in love with her art, world, and the magic she creates - and represents. From marvelous creatures to a worldview that takes us deep into the imagination, Elena's extraordinary art inspires, gives joy, and brings an enchantment to our lives. When I first saw her art, I KNEW that she was special and that her talents needed to be shared!

Without further ado, our  our Artist of the Month, Elena Feret.
The Gardener. A gardener lost in her world of plants. Her heart grows as her garden grows. (Pen, watercolor, gold gel pen, and white gel pen). Artist Elena Feret
The Gardener. A gardener lost in her world of plants. Her heart grows as her garden grows. (Pen, watercolor, gold gel pen, and white gel pen) 

How long have you been an artist?
I have been interested in art since I was very young. My maternal grandmother and aunt, who is an artist, often exposed me to arts and crafts. When I was six or seven, I went to visit my paternal grandparents in France. That summer my grandfather bought me a new sun-colored sketchbook and colored pencils to keep me busy at their country house. This experience gave me plenty of freedom and time to focus on my art. I started to feel the need to scribble down my every observation and investigate the forms I found in the world around me. In addition to drawing my dreams and attempting a portrait of every flower I could find in my grandmother’s garden, I drew every person in my family (wrinkles and all, to their surprise and disappointment). 

Since then, I have been taking art classes and spending much of my spare time creating. I went to Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan, which is where I sold my first few paintings. That is most likely the time when I became more serious about art and I started to see drawing/painting as a necessity in my life. I am not certain if there is an exact mold one must fit to be a true artist, but for me an artist has meant being able to see the world through the eyes and mind of an artist and also feeling that you are one. With that in mind, I have been seeing as an artist since that summer in France, and I’ve felt like an artist since LaGuardia. 
Frog Creature. A little creature who enjoys jumping around in my head. He likes hiding in the puddles you find in the roots of trees after the rain and eating lavender. (Pen and watercolor.) Artist Elena Feret
Frog Creature. A little creature who enjoys jumping around in my head. He likes hiding in the puddles you find in the roots of trees after the rain and eating lavender. (Pen and watercolor.)

Is art your full-time career?
I wish! I have not had the time to develop a full-time career in the arts (yet!). I am hopeful that one day I will be able to devote all my time to creating worlds for others and be covered in paint and ink from head to toe 24/7. 

Where do you work? How long have you been there? Do you have favorite places you like to create?
I have a green antique desk at home that I call my “art desk.” It has what feels like a hundred little slots and drawers to fit all my art supplies so I can be (somewhat) organized. It is also structured in a way where there are side panels so I can be secretive. My work is extremely personal and sometimes I prefer to stay in my own world until it feels like my work has become its own entity instead of an extension of myself. When painting with acrylic or oils, I tend to work on an easel near a window in the living room, since that is where I get the most light in our apartment. 

What does a typical day look like? Is there a typical day?
For now, I work a part time job during the day and volunteer the mornings I can in the Fall and Spring seasons at the Historic Huguenot Street School Program. I look forward to my mornings at Huguenot Street since I get to work in an educational and historical environment with kids. This usually means that I try to work on my illustrations in the early mornings or from the moment I get home until it’s way past my bedtime. Weekends are my favorite, because then I get to focus on whatever visions I’ve had during the week all day. 

Sometimes it takes one full day of the weekend to finish an illustration, and sometimes it takes a few days. For example, the Dancing Faeries illustration took me about four days to complete (including two full days of work). When I’m painting or illustrating, I get into a “zone,” so I have to make sure I have a bunch of snacks and water ready with me for the day. Otherwise, it’s too easy to forget anything else exists out of the world I’m creating until it gets too dark to see and I have to turn a light on! Dancing Faeries. Faeries dancing around the reflection of a full moon in a forest puddle. (Pen, watercolor, gold acrylic paint, white acrylic paint, and Pearl Ex powder pigment.) Artist Elena Feret
Dancing Faeries. Faeries dancing around the reflection of a full moon in a forest puddle. (Pen, watercolor, gold acrylic paint, white acrylic paint, and Pearl Ex powder pigment.) 

What materials do you prefer? 
In the summers I love to paint with oils on canvas. Summers are ideal for oil because I can open all the windows (and safely let all the fumes out). As it gets colder, I make more illustrations which I might love even more than painting now since it gives me the ability to work with so many materials, like pen and ink, watercolors, colored pencils, gel pens, and acrylic.
In Search of Alice. Asking a caterpillar if he knows where Alice has run off to. (Pen, watercolor, gold gel pen, and white gel pen.) Artist Elena Feret
In Search of Alice. Asking a caterpillar if he knows where Alice has run off to. (Pen, watercolor, gold gel pen, and white gel pen.)

Where/How are you inspired?
I am inspired by almost everything. I have countless scraps of paper and phone notes with scribbled ideas for illustrations/paintings. More than I have time for! Most mornings I wake up with ideas from dreams such as my illustration of a house with roots and Dream of Jellyfish painting. 
Dream of Jellyfish. Calm floating jellyfish under rough waters. (Acrylic paints.) Artist Elena Feret
Dream of Jellyfish. Calm floating jellyfish under rough waters. (Acrylic paints.)

My largest inspiration is the earth we walk on. I believe it’s crucial to be aware of the sublime connection we have with our planet and its evident artistry. Nature is our most vital artist and I am inspired to honor it through both my actions and my art. I get much of my inspiration from hiking in the woods with my boyfriend and dog. Once we were walking and I saw an enormous moss-covered boulder and in pure eOndine zone I imagined it was actually a dragon’s egg. I then proceeded to talk my boyfriend’s ear off with what ifs and dragon’s egg musings all the way home. When I got home, I sketched out the idea for my dragon’s egg illustration. 
Dragon Egg. What if those moss-covered boulders you’ve been passing on your forest walks are dragon’s eggs getting ready to hatch? (Pen, watercolor, watercolor colored pencils, gold gel pen, and white gel pen.) Artist Elena Feret
Dragon Egg. What if those moss-covered boulders you’ve been passing on your forest walks are dragon’s eggs getting ready to hatch? (Pen, watercolor, watercolor colored pencils, gold gel pen, and white gel pen.)

On another hike, I was drawn to all the trees dressed in the prettiest moss. When I put my hand across one of the trees I imagined what it would be like if I could run around forests, fences, and concrete buildings, leaving behind streaks of moss with the touch of my fingers. That night I started Mossy Tracks: an Illustration for the Nature Spirits.
Mossy Tracks: An Illustration for the Nature Spirits. A nature spirit has left their mark on a tree despite the snow covered landscape. (Pen, Watercolor, and white gel pen.) Artist Elena Feret
Mossy Tracks: An Illustration for the Nature Spirits. A nature spirit has left their mark on a tree despite the snow covered landscape. (Pen, Watercolor, and white gel pen.)
 
I also love to read. I have always loved mythology, folklore, and fairy tales, which are just different ways of seeing nature- a way to explain the magic in the natural world! 

Another way I’m inspired is simply by walking down the street. I was especially inspired by faces and expressions when I lived in New York City. I would be sitting on a bus or the subway and all of the sudden I would spot a triad of cackling fairy creatures or an aged princess with her enormous frog prince sitting beside her. I had to get very good at side glances and peeking up through my eyelashes to remember their features, which didn’t always work out, but I was shy about whipping out my sketchbook in super public areas. 

Another illustration I named Hiding came to me in a daydream while I was looking at hills on a drive. I wondered what it might feel like to be a hill and have trees growing out of my spine while being able to watch others who are not necessarily even aware of my existence. A lot of my illustrations are about a magical human link to nature, which is a feeling I’d like to share with others.
Hiding. A hill peeking at those who walk by. (Pen, watercolor, acrylic gold paint, white gel pen, gold gel pen.) Artist Elena Feret
Hiding. A hill peeking at those who walk by. (Pen, watercolor, acrylic gold paint, white gel pen, gold gel pen.)

How do you know when your piece is done?
I used to have a much harder time determining when a piece was done. I could put a painting down for a year and suddenly find that it needed a dozen tweaks and additional details. More recently I find that I have become more aware of my own visions, and when I feel that I have fully translated my thoughts into lines and colors, I know it is time to put my brush down and step back. However, sometimes a story develops as I draw a concept I’ve had brewing rather than a concrete visual idea. With those pieces, like in Heart of the Mountain, I know my illustration is done when I feel that the story has been told. 
Heart of a Mountain. A young girl picking flowers follows faerie lights into the heart of a mountain. (Pen, watercolor, gold acrylic paint, gold gel pen, white gel pen, and Pearl Ex powder pigment.) Artist Elena Feret
Heart of a Mountain. A young girl picking flowers follows faerie lights into the heart of a mountain. (Pen, watercolor, gold acrylic paint, gold gel pen, white gel pen, and Pearl Ex powder pigment.)

Do you work on one or more pieces at a time?
I like to focus on one piece at a time so that I can give it my full attention. However, I’ll sometimes work on an illustration and an oil painting at the same time since oil paintings tend to take a longer amount of time to complete. This allows me to get more of my ideas out instead of restlessly watching the lists and scraps of paper grow longer. Gaea. Personification of the earth. (Pen, watercolor, gold acrylic paint, and white gel pen.)  Artist Elena Feret
Gaea. Personification of the earth. (Pen, watercolor, gold acrylic paint, and white gel pen.) 

If you were not a painter, what would you do?
I also have a passion for herbs and teaching, so I’d either want to be an herbalist or art teacher. I take online classes in herbalism because I find it so fascinating, but I’m not sure what I will do with it yet. On the other hand, I enjoy working with children and wanted to become an art teacher for most of my life before going to college. In any case, I will always need illustrating and painting in my life. No matter what other interests I’ve had, it has consistently been essential that I get whatever images or concepts/ideas I’ve had in my head onto a surface. 
Daydream. A little girl who has gone in search of faeries with some plant gifts from her mother’s garden. (Pen, watercolor, gold acrylic paint, white gel pen, and Pearl Ex powder pigment.) Artist Elena Feret
Daydream. A little girl who has gone in search of faeries with some plant gifts from her mother’s garden. (Pen, watercolor, gold acrylic paint, white gel pen, and Pearl Ex powder pigment.)

How can our readers find and purchase your art?
You can see my Etsy shop for originals for originals and Society6 for prints and gifts. Both are under the name eOndine. Otherwise, you are more than welcome to reach out to me in a DM on my Instagram @eOndineart.

Would you like to share anything else with us?
I’d like to encourage others through my art to look at the everyday green things that grow and live around us in a different way. Even a lawn filled with dandelions, a troupe of clouds, or a walk in the woods can be extraordinary. 
“The Clearest Way…” Illustration inspired by John Muir quote: “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” (Pen, watercolor, acrylic gold paint, white gel pen.) Artist Elena Feret
“The Clearest Way…” Illustration inspired by John Muir quote: “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” (Pen, watercolor, acrylic gold paint, white gel pen.)

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Elena Feret

 

 

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