Clare Elsaesser


"Over the past few years, I felt really stuck, not sure what I wanted out of my art or what kind of artist I wanted to be. This recent exploration and experimentation has changed that and given me a new sense of determination. I feel like my work is starting to grow and develop in a new way."

Process photo by: Clare Elsaesser

INTRO: Clare is a tremendously talented artist currently producing paintings, prints and experiments in her California-based home studio. Her subject matter spans from nature to portraiture, and the resulting work has a dreamlike, ephemeral quality. Many of the subjects of her portraits are depicted experiencing solitary, seemingly fleeting moments. I personally have this print in my collection, and it's one of my favorites. Since first finding Clare's work and reaching out to her, she has experienced some significantly new directions in her art and thought process. It was really fun to talk to her and hear how these threads of exploration are taking shape. I appreciate her transparency and willingness to share her thoughts and progress.

DAILY PROCESS + GEOGRAPHY

Most mornings are spent doing business-oriented work like packing print orders for shipment and catching up on email correspondence. The second half of the day is dedicated to painting and/or experimenting with new media. Clare and her artist husband live in Northern California, and she considers the area a significant inspiration to her work. She is originally from Los Angeles, and she moved around a bit before settling in the north. "We live in the country, and the quiet and serenity make me a happier and more productive person."

Every day presents new challenges and requirements, but Clare has created a loose structure to establish a sense of consistency between days. After working through the morning, she typically finds a sense of rhythm around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., when most of us are experiencing an afternoon slump. She attributes this to afternoon coffee and the momentum from her morning tasks. She also makes sure she gets lots of sleep, drinks wine in the evenings and does at least 15 push-ups a day. She keeps her art practice centered around her home studio, and self-discipline is a key to getting work done. "...it seems the more consistently I work, the easier it is to tap into the inspiration. Taking vacations or even weekends off really throws a wrench into my creative process." 

The Divide, Giclée print, various sizes by: Clare Elsaesser

PERSPECTIVE + RECENT WORK

Clare and I spoke about the impact of digital media, tools and platforms and the new conversation topics and art forms they bring. "As for creativity, I would bet all artists are impacted in their physical art making process, if not also in the way we think about creating, and the eventual outcome of our work." Like many artists, Clare uses digital platforms to share a behind-the-scenes perspective of her work. If you click on the "in progress" tab of her website, it takes you to her Instagram profile, where she posts photos of sketches, materials and anecdotes. I think that it's particularly brave to keep her audience clued in during a time of exploring new directions and media. As a fan myself, I only respect her more.

When asked about resources or voices that might be missing from the conversation, Clare summed up a relatable opinion really eloquently: "If art education had any importance in public school curriculum, I feel many of the problems and criticisms I have with the art world, such as elitism and inaccessibility, would be quickly ameliorated." 

I can tell Clare spends a lot of time pondering what it means to be an artist, and it's cool to see how this introspection evolves in her visual work. "The biggest benefits of pursuing a career as an artist are the drive, passion and purpose it has given my life. Those sound like really loaded words, but the more I work on my art, the more committed I become to a sense that there is not just validity, but a great purpose and meaning in doing what one wants to do, whatever that may be."

Abstract Two, Giclée print, various sizes by: Clare Elsaesser

I admire the fact that Clare is taking the time to experiment to find out what kind of direction she might want to pursue next. She's moved from oil to acrylic to watercolor to a combination of all of the above. Recently, she's been creating texture and tactility in her paintings by incorporating twine and string. She describes this recent phase beautifully:

"Over the past few years, I felt really stuck, not sure what I wanted out of my art or what kind of artist I wanted to be. This recent exploration and experimentation has changed that and given me a new sense of determination. I feel like my work is starting to grow and develop in a new way."

MIXED MEDIA

Clare is currently reading Women in Clothes and Not That Kind of Girl and highly recommends them both.

For studio tunes, Clare picks:

For a taste of all of the above, check out this playlist!

"I think most successful artists are able to persevere and have confidence despite the inherent self-criticism required to make things, and make things better. I am still figuring out how to navigate my insecurities and make work I am proud of."

Below are a few examples of Clare's in-progress works. For more, check out her website, EtsyInstagram and Facebook.