As a child, Elaine Gosnell’s desire to explore the unknown was only further fueled when a teacher told her she was too young to pursue abstract art.
Now Gosnell’s abstract art is featured in multiple galleries in Colorado.
Gosnell, who lives in Pine, grew up watching her mother’s artistic endeavors. When her mother would paint or draw, she often gave Gosnell paints to sit down and keep herself busy. She would pique young Gosnell’s interest by imploring her to “paint something you saw today, paint something you felt today.”
At around age 11, while Gosnell was into oil painting, an art teacher told her it was not appropriate for someone her age to do abstract art, as she needed to learn the traditional methods first. Something about that didn’t sit right with Gosnell, and she put down the paints for a few years.
When she went to college, Gosnell took up oil painting again, often painting pictures of animals and landscapes for friends as stress relief between classes.
In her early adult life, Gosnell experimented with many different mediums, including tile and china painting and stained glass making.
In the `90s, her work as a litigation paralegal took up most of her time, keeping Gosnell from her art. Around this time is when she met friend and fellow artist Susan Kriz. Kriz remembers the chance meeting.
“We met at a garage sale and just had a common bond, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Kriz said.
Kriz could see the toll work was taking on Gosnell.
“She was working full time, and she was in a very stressful job; there wasn’t the happiness about her that there is now,” Kriz said. “Once she retired and started doing this, she just lightened up.”
Around 2010, Gosnell began an oil painting of a fawn, when she noticed the lack of control in her hands. After a visit with her doctor, she was given gut-wrenching news.
“He told me that I had RA and my hands were going to get worse,” said Gosnell. “I wasn’t going to be able to hold anything small like a paintbrush.”
Gosnell said the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis was disheartening because of her love for painting. When she retired in 2015, she tried working with polymer clay and beads, but neither medium was suited for her hands.
In 2017, while watching a video online, Gosnell discovered acrylic pour painting, a type of fluid painting that involves pouring acrylic paint onto a canvas. This type of art has various techniques used by different artists.
“I had a lot of failures at first,” Gosnell said. “The hardest thing for me was learning to mix my paint; once I got that figured out, then it was fun.”
Gosnell now uses this technique to paint vases, ornaments, pendants and canvases. She also likes to add her own flair to the pieces, often adding in trees or wildlife.
This type of art is admittedly different from the intricate landscapes Gosnell used to create with a tiny brush. Now she uses tools like a sponge, straw and her fingers to manipulate the paint.
“I like the randomness of it. It’s more freeing, I think,” she said.
Kriz appreciates Gosnell’s art not only as a friend, but as a fellow artist.
“I just think (it’s) gorgeous,” Kriz said.
Gosnell’s art is featured at River Canyon Gallery in Bailey and Coyote Creek Studio Arts in Fairplay. Kriz has had her art in River Canyon Gallery for many years, and was happy to finally convince Gosnell to feature her art there. The two have collaborated on jewelry pieces.
“She’ll do the pendant, and then I’ll do the chain that the pendant goes on,” Kriz said.
Thinking back on her art journey, Gosnell never thought she would end up doing acrylic pour painting, let alone having her art for sale in multiple galleries.
“If somebody had told me when I was 30 that I would be making money off this and enjoying it ... I wouldn’t have believed them,” she said.
And while her younger self may not have pursued something like this, Gosnell now tends to focus on creating art for art’s sake.
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