These gorgeous doodlewashes come to us from Elizabeth Brunsman in Annapolis, Maryland (follow her on Instagram!). “I suppose I don’t recall when I started falling in love with drawing and painting,” she says. “It must have been a long time ago…probably over 25 years at this point. My first memory of drawing and sketching was around kindergarten, when my parents gave me a huge Disney animation book. Being an animator for Disney, especially around the age of 5-6, was my only goal in life.”
But painting actually saved her life as a child. “Without going into too much detail,” she says, “my sister and I experienced a part of our childhood linked to abuse from outside of our family. To be honest, there is not much that I recall from that time, perhaps it’s best it’s been blocked out.”
“But I always link my art beginnings to kindergarten because that’s when I really started using my copies of beautiful Disney animation prints as a way to escape. More importantly, that was when I was able to convey the events that had happened to my sister and me in my drawings. I was too afraid to talk about it, so I drew it instead and that made such a difference.”
Elizabeth wanted to forget art when she got to college, although she’s not sure why that was the case. “I just didn’t want anything to do with it. I suppose it seemed like my parents were trying to be involved in that decision…and I was 18 and wanted no parental guidance whatsoever.”
She took a few drawing classes her freshman year to please them, but remembers one distinct moment in the summer following freshman year that changed her mind. Her drawing and composition teacher had said to her once, “Art is not a profession. It is not a career that you choose, or a 9-5 job you go to 5 days a week. It is a gift you were given and it’s part of the thread of who you are, everyday, for your entire life.”
That definitely resonated with her and she remembers waking up in the middle of one summer night in a panic. “Elizabeth, you have to study art. No questions, you’re doing it,” she said to herself. So she went back her sophomore year and devoured painting, drawing and art history. After taking her first art history class, she was hooked on historical portraits; sculpture of high contrasts of light and dark, figurative movement, and the “creamy texture” of oil paints.
Elizabeth says, “I wanted to be an oil portrait artist like the Masters. In fact, I refused to touch (and probably vowed to never be around) watercolor while in college. It wasn’t a forgiving enough medium, and it didn’t seem as rich as oil paint. Give me oil, charcoal or chalk pastel and I was golden. Watercolor was scary and I hated the idea of having to start over if the colors bled the wrong direction.”
“With watercolor, you’re at the mercy of nature (in a sense). Water will do as it will, and I wanted total control over my paint medium. That thought had to change in grad school when I dipped into the world of fashion design and illustration. Watercolor sketching became a must to quickly convey design thoughts down on paper. It’s now my favorite paint medium.”
Elizabeth says she continually floats from one inspiration to the next, and those inspirations never seem connected. “My mother always told me I was afraid of commitment (usually telling boys I brought home that I was never satisfied with one thing! Sorry guys!) But with regards to art, I just love recording beautiful things. Portraits plus fashion designs are typically at the top of my list.”
“I love the movement and energy in a portrait or a figurative pose. Faces especially are so nuanced. It’s just romantic to me. I do still struggle a bit with the thought that I’m not a conceptual artist. I feel guilty at times knowing my interests are so broad and I don’t have one conceptual body of work. I realize it’s a silly self-consciousness to feel like I’m less of an artist because I’m not exhibiting in a gallery, but I think all creative minds have those moments of self doubt (perhaps more often than we’d like!).”
Elizabeth recently traveled abroad to Eastern and Central Europe for 7 weeks with her husband. “I think this was a recent turning point for my paintings. I own a painting entertainment business that I started a little over 2 years ago called Paint Uncorked. We set up acrylic paint classes in local restaurants throughout Maryland, and teach a 3 hour ‘Bob Ross style’ class….step-by-step….brush measurement-by-brush measurement….alongside wine (alleviates the inhibitions!)”
Elizabeth is incredibly grateful for being able to paint and teach simultaneous, but rarely makes time to do her own artwork just for fun. “Our trip to Europe was a time where I could sit in a café for several hours, completely focused on rediscovering why I enjoy painting. I was one lucky duck to have that freedom, and the travel illustrations are some of my favorites to date. They’re small, but colorful and expressive and it was such a joy to be inspired by a completely new world, physically and mentally.”
“I’m extremely lucky to have been given an ability that makes my life whole,” she says. “Knowing that trumps any moments of stress, frustration with my work, or even self-doubt. I couldn’t be more fortunate to have a built-in outlet, and I’m honored and very grateful to share some of my work.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and beautiful art with us Elizabeth! Be sure to follow her on Instagram and check out her professional website at Paint Uncorked! We’ll be watching to see what amazing things you paint next, friend!
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!