|Welcome to Electra Stamelos's Site|
"Art not only imitates nature but also completes its deficiencies" - Aristotle
I like my work to reflect or express the exuberance and challenges of life, as I feel or see them. I choose the positive, hopeful and beautiful aspects. My art is a heightened absorption of formal criteria such as light, color and form -- an intensification of nature and my reaction to it.
For thirty years I have painted in watercolor, acrylic and pastel media and have been in many exhibitions throughout the United States. As a member of the Michigan Watercolor Society, Watercolor USA Honor Society and the National Watercolor Society I have received awards and recognition for my paintings as well as for my teaching and drawing. I also have held workshops and juried shows.
Since graduating with an MFA degree in 1976, I have traveled much of the United States and the world - from China to Australia. These areas have influenced the subject matter of my paintings from flowers to landscapes.
People often say my work looks photographic and I accept that as a compliment to the handling of a technique and it shows I have convinced the viewer that there is a scene that exists somewhere just as I've painted it. Actually, that is seldom the case because I take elements from various photos and arrange them in my own composition.
Because I try to gather a great deal of potential subject matter in a relatively short time when I travel, using my 35mm camera or my digital in the field, I do all my serious painting in the studio. On location, my eyes rove constantly, looking for material of interest; when something catches my eye, I shoot it. For scenes with real potential, I'll circle around and take shots from different angles - looking for my own perspective. Really, most of what I do is impulsive photography, because I have learned that in a matter of minutes the elements can change or disappear entirely. Photos are the technical advantage of our time.
Back in the studio I go over my color photographs looking for more than just color or light; I look for a compelling angle - one that draws my eye into the subject
Watercolor is a medium of extremes. It can be simple and spontaneous, or it can require the kind of precise discipline that is generally seen in my paintings. Including too much detail can be a mistake, as the painting may look flat because nothing recedes. Some artists play down the color and the amount of detail in the background in order to achieve a 3-dimensional effect
To be able to use watercolor, one must know its characteristics. What does the paint do? -it runs, drips, bleeds and dries. The experienced watercolorist welcomes "wet" characteristics and adds "dry" techniques. These two techniques, wet and dry, relate directly to hard and soft edges. Playing these techniques against each other is a good way for me to express myself. Hard and soft edges carry a lot of positive information. Besides emotional impact, they explain form and direct the eye.I use two trays of 48 colors each - often using three different manufactures of the same color. There is a great deal of difference in the warmth or coolness of the same named color.
I find painting a watercolor to be hard work. Each painting is a challenge that requires concentration, time and effort. I dislike repetition, so that every time I paint, I try to do something more difficult. I think I work in a logical fashion, but actually I deal with moment to moment decisions.
In style, my work is figurative abstraction that can be interpreted on many levels. One view can be described as composed of abstract shapes, assembled like mosaic to form an image. The painter, Sarkis Sarkesian, once said that every inch of a painting should be exciting and this idea has obsessed me ever since, and explains why on superficial viewing my paintings may seem busy. However, "horror vacacuii" a Latin term for lack of empty space, permeates the entire oeuvre of my work since the mid 1970's to the present. It challenges the viewer to view the works, flowers and landscapes, intellectually to discover intricate dimensions of shape, form and design in watercolors and pastels.
In summary, if art is a remembered sensory experience, I can only paint what I see and feel.
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