Bridgehampton, New York
Description and Method of Work
In her studio on the east end of Long Island, Liz Gribin describes her acrylics on canvas as “post-abstract realism,” meaning it’s figurative but not tied to nature. Concerned with “colors that are harmonious,” she says she frequently introduces abstract elements into her work, “breaking into the figure and tying it to the background, so that figure and ground hold together.” She begins by putting colors on the canvas, then draws into it with charcoal, moving back and forth between color and drawing until she creates a gesture for the figure that looks natural and gives her – it’s usually a woman – form. Sometimes the color bleeds out of the figure, sometimes it bleeds into the figure. “I am trying to lend spontaneity, not tightness, to the work,” she explains.
First Artistic Inspiration
As a young child, Gribin copied Norman Rockwell’s The Saturday Evening Post covers. Though she didn’t want to be an illustrator, she admired Rockwell’s “high level of illustration.” As she grew older, she found herself influenced by Matisse for his use of color and by Californian Richard Diebenkorn, whom she says had a style “that was very contemporary and tied to abstraction. He went from abstraction to figurative and back to abstraction again, which is very unusual. It usually works the other way.” She also includes Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard in her pantheon of influences, as well as Picasso’s drawings. “I have a studio full of art books that I’m looking into constantly because, from time to time, I get in a situation and wonder how did so-and-so solve it? Or was this a situation that existed for them? For me, art often is influenced by other art, more than by nature.”
In 1985, Gribin had a show at the Isis Gallery in Port Washington, New York, which art critic Malcom Preston reviewed favorably in Newsday. “Color is the most outstanding aspect of Gribin’s pictures – it is original…,” Preston wrote. “Her washes have a pattern all their own. The manner is casual, the poses of her figures, their attitudes are almost offhand. It is her skillful drawing that gives us the subject matter.”
Most Influential Person
Artist and teacher Paul Wood has been so important to Gribin that at first she wanted to count him both as her biggest break and biggest influence. Wood, who lives in Nassau County on Long Island, close to where Gribin used to reside, helped free her from her then-academic style. She worked in his studio for many years and discovered she could break certain rules she had learned in art school. “One of the first paintings where I broke away from the traditional was of a chair with a vase on it; I didn’t paint the chair one way and the vase another,” she says. Wood also taught her to combine discrete elements and to establish movement with color.
Favorite Subject Matter
Painting directly from a model, Gribin tends to favor women as subjects, in part because she is, as she puts it, “attempting to convey an emotion that is common to most women.” Interestingly, Gribin prefers clothed to nude models. “I find that with clothing on, you get new shapes and colors. It’s more inspiring to have the model clothed.”
Awards And Accolades
Though she has a wall in her studio covered with prizes, Gribin doesn’t paint for awards; she paints for the sheer joy of it. It’s the challenge of new work that she loves. “What’s important is the painting on the easel,” she says. “The others are history.”
Price Range Of Work
$1,200–20,000, though smaller works sell for $950.
Nan Mulford Gallery
21 Main St., Rockport, Maine 048561
Mark Humphrey Gallery
95 Main St., Southampton, NY 11968
Louis Aronow Gallery
522 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94102
Her work also can be viewed at http://www.lizgribin.com/