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Elizabeth Starnes' Bio

When Elizabeth Starnes talks about painting you can feel her passion and see both ambition and soulful spirit in her eyes. One can sense that art is her soul mate – the center of her universe. And so it should be to someone with as much talent as Elizabeth possesses. With brush and paint Elizabeth has the remarkable ability to capture a person’s soul on canvas. Her artistic soulful nature is evident in her work.

“It started out of boredom in an old farmhouse in upstate New York,” she says. As a child on Sunday afternoons Elizabeth sat in front of the fireplace, replicating the Sunday comics while her father watched football. “I was amazed I could even do it!” When she drew, time and space seemed stop for her. “I would completely lose myself somewhere in the artwork.”

Although she had the artistic itch very early on in life, it wasn’t until she was about 15 that she really realized how much she liked drawing. Her mother recognized her talent and enrolled her in a high school with a good art program. It was there that she fell in love with faces. Unfortunately her art teacher wouldn’t let the students try their hand at portraits until everything else imaginable was drawn. “It wasn’t until the second semester that she let us bring in photographs and start drawing from them.”

After high school Elizabeth set aside her artistic ability. “Life moves on and can sometimes steer us away from who we really are,” she says. It wasn’t until about seven years ago that she picked up her passion for art and began creating again. “I couldn’t ignore it anymore.” She had the desire to learn to work with color and it was then that she found a teacher who helped her begin her work with watercolor. Elizabeth found that she loved the way watercolors flowed and enjoyed creating faces with it. “I was worried that because I hadn’t really produced anything for so many years, that maybe I had lost it, but then I discovered I never lost it at all. I paint from a soulful place of emotion. With life experiences comes change and what we do grows and changes with us.”

It wasn’t long after this artistic rebirth that Elizabeth began winning awards, entering juried shows, and doing commission work. “I never intended to do portrait work for people,” she says. “I just wanted to learn how to paint people and faces.” Starnes recalls looking at other’s work and wanting to be able to paint with precision and passion. She says her paintings are not complete until she is able to feel the spirit behind the face and hear the portrait talk. This is a result of viewing her subjects with such a soulful eye.            

When asked about the artistic process, Elizabeth says she takes a series of photographs. “The best thing is capturing the emotion of the moment. The true nature of a person comes through on their face when they are in a natural state. Just sitting somewhere lost in thought or having a conversation, a person becomes present in a totally different way. This can create a great moment inside the painting.” Her goal is to capture the spirit of her subject, and who they really are. Elizabeth wants people to be able to walk up to her paintings and feel the emotion of the person or hear the giggling of the child who comes alive on the canvas. Painting is a divine process for her and she is happy to be a part of it.

Rancher's Magazine; July 2006 (author: Cassandra Key)

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