Artist Eli inspired by beauty of Bermuda
Artist Eli Cedrone says that if you find painting relaxing, you are doing it wrong.
A few months ago, something felt off about the painting she was doing of a fisherman cleaning his fish.
“I felt the foreground needed some sense of place,” she said.
The oil painting was not properly reflecting the dock itself, or the nearby water. So she put it on hold and worked on something else for a little while. When she came back to the painting, she knew what was missing — a splash of turquoise water.
That small change paid off.
Last month, her painting won The Serjeant's Cup Marine Art Prize at the Bermuda Society of Arts at City Hall, Hamilton. The competition was sponsored by St Peter’s Church in St George and The Friends of St Peter’s Church.
Ms Cedrone was teaching an art workshop on Cape Cod, Massachusetts when she got an e-mail saying that she had won the award.
“I was thrilled,” she said. “I had to ask a friend to accept it. I only entered the competition at the last minute, knowing I would be travelling.”
She received a trophy inscribed with her name on it that she gets to keep for a year.
Ms Cedrone takes part in a lot of art contests.
“There is a whole renaissance going on with people who want to travel and paint,” she said. “The competitive side of that is great. The prizes are great, and you can learn a lot from painting with other painters.”
This is not Ms Cedrone’s first art win in Bermuda. She also won the Bermuda Plein Air Festival Best In Oils prize — twice.
“It was a great honour,” she said.
She is American, but has had a long association with the island. She spent seven years in the 1980s working for Advertising Associates in Bermuda. Then in 2017 she was the Masterworks Artist in Residence. Now she spends part of the year in Boston and part in Bermuda.
“I love the lifestyle in Bermuda,” she said. “I have become part of the local art community.”
She enjoys Sunday morning painting sessions with Bermuda Plein Air, a group of local art enthusiasts who enjoy painting outdoors. Back in Boston, she spends a lot of time in the studio, so Bermuda is her chance to get outside.
Ms Cedrone finds the colours and scenery of the North Shore particularly inspiring. It reminds her of stretches of Massachusetts coastline, such as Cape Ann.
“There is a ruggedness to the North Shore in comparison to the gentle curve of the beaches of the South Shore,” she said. “It could be that I’m more familiar with that type of landscape.”
She was fascinated by Devonshire Dock on the North Shore.
“It is a hangout for the local fishermen and characters,” Ms Cedrone said. “It is fun. One day I decided to go down and do the landscape. I got to know the guys down there. They said, ‘You should do some paintings with the guys when they come in with their fish’. One day, I caught someone cleaning fish.”
While doing preliminary sketches on the dock, she loved listening to the banter around her. When she was finished with the painting, she took it back there to see if she could find the man in the photo. She had forgotten his name. He was not there, but the people on the dock told her who he was.
Ms Cedrone grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts in a family of eight children. Art was a way of escaping from the chaos.
“I was sketching from the age of five years old,” she said. “And I could draw well. I just had that ability and that encouraged me to keep pursuing a career in the arts.”
When she got older, she studied at the New England School of Art & Design in Boston, now Suffolk University. She also did a summer art course in Florence, Italy that introduced her to a more academic way of painting.
“What we learn in art school, a lot of times, is that all art is good,” she said. “Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a lot more of a modernist approach to painting and abstraction. I was yearning to learn more traditional methods. One of my biggest influences was painter John Singer Sergeant.”
Ms Cedrone believes that a painter should never stop learning.
“The more you know the less you know,” she said. “It is good to push yourself beyond your limits, but be patient with yourself. The whole process of learning and creating is a journey. You need to paint miles of canvas before you really even get close to being a good painter.”
She said that often people see only the best paintings an artist has to offer. They don’t see the other paintings that were so bad that they were torn up or painted over.
She said that anyone can learn to draw, but how good you get depends on how much time you are willing to put into it.
Ms Cedrone works primarily in oils, but has just started experimenting with gouache.
“Typically, water colour is transparent,” she said. “You have to build it from light to dark. You cannot cover a darker colour with a lighter colour. With gouache can cover a dark with a light. You can build it up.”
She particularly likes that it is good for travel painting. You don’t have to cart around mineral spirits like you do for oil paints. All you need is water.
For more information, see the artist’s website, elicedrone.com.