Mark & Elena Erickson

The Collaboration

Mark Erickson has a double love affair – one with his wife, Elena, and one with paint. This has led to a remarkable collaboration. Employing a veritable toolbox of modified brushes, pallet knives, air brush tools, all lying side by side with a multitude of found and homemade objects, Mark and Elena have gone on a journey of imagination together through the medium of paint.

In their collaborations, paint is given the power to visually echo their shared experiences, environment and emotions. According to Mark, “life and the place one works in get into the paintings; works overflow in graphic pop reasonings, psychedelic twists and turns of events concrete in our imagination.”

The joy inherent in this collaboration is palpable; the works push the limits of what paint can do to act upon our minds and hearts.

— M. Genet

In the Fall of 2015 Elena and I began working on works on paper together. It was the first time we had collaborated on the same painting at the exact same time. We had worked together quite a bit, but this was new. The beginnings were steady and confident, as the comfort level picked up, the brush strokes intertwined and many became one. Colors meshed and shapes became lyrical and surprisingly similar, all with an appropriate painterly gestural style. We continued with reds, oranges, yellows with blues, turquoises and various tones of whites for highlights. Soon we discovered in this first piece, “Down Into The Blue,” what we had. It has developed into a series we are moving forward with great enthusiasm.

We refer to the images that turn and spiral across the paintings as poppies, and that leads to flowers, petals, water, surf, science and nature. The painting series quickly continued on wood panels, canvas and paper.  We are using acrylic and oil, all hand painted with great detail.

 These new paintings make more sense now that they have become true collaborations. They began to overflow in graphic, psychedelic twists and turns of events concrete in our imagination.  They can resemble screen prints, but everything is hand worked, the details are carefully worked and the brush work is essential.

 The painting studio in Oakland is where sunlight pours through a twenty foot wall of windows enables experimentation with light and paint, casting shadows and silhouettes on the walls. Playing with reflections and color, mixing paint at random, we attempt to capture a static energy in these new works.

Elena grew up in the country-side of northern Switzerland outside of city life and influences. The forest surrounded her home and most life adventures were motivated by nature. It is a world filled with animals, plants and trees and it formed the imagery in her current paintings. In our collaborations we attempt to paint in the privacy of out in the open, among thousands of faces staring, hunting for the truth.  Our collaborations exhibit these travels among the surf lanes of texture and pigment. Nothing lost, nothing gained but the last truly beautiful wave of the day.    

The medium is acrylic and oil paints, and lots of brush work with the use of airbrush and various hand-made tools and altered brushes. The technique I had been working with for years, it originally came from a technique my mother developed in the 1980s, BUT, and this is the kicker,  Elena found an additional step that enhances the paintings and it was at this point we started collaborating together, so easily. Our collaborative painting, our relationship, our marriage in many ways has changed me, and my painting attitude. All for the better and the good. I am so so far more excited about painting now, and doing some of my best painting

I have ever done in my opinion. Elena has reinvigorated me after that long period during and the year after my father's passing. So paint flows so much better this last year or so. There is a chemical result from the two paints meeting in wet form, so a lot of what you see in the unique repetitious imagery happens at this point. We use an airbrush to help enhance this look. Also brush work at this point comes into action. But also my years of painting experience comes into this. Little tricks and turns of handling paint.

– M. Erickson

The Vastness of Eve

New Paintings Collaborations by Mark and Elena Erickson

Mark Erickson

Looking at a painting by Mark Erickson is an experience in color and movement. Bright areas of pigment slash across a brilliant background or float above expansive landscapes. The viewer is gripped by an immediate and powerful response to the sheer explosion of color and the substance of the paint itself. Various areas of colors exist on what appears to be a vast assortment of planes. Some areas leap out and seem to float in front of the canvas. Others fall back, beckoning the viewer to enter further into the painting. The work is entirely original. The concerns are those of an artist fascinated by his own visions and ever mindful of the materials he employs. The work can be experienced as a kind of 'journey' in which one can encounter cool blue lakes and fiery mountains.

Mark Erickson was born in Hollywood, California. His early education was completed in California, Germany and Italy. He is a product of his experience on both continents and a family history combining the traditions of East Coast aestheticism and Wild West freedom. His mother and grandmother were New York artists. They studied under Hans Hoffman and knew Franz Kline before World War II. Erickson's father was an aircraft designer and pilot, his father's father a cowboy and a marshal in the Dakota Territory.

After attending college in Southern California, Erickson moved to San Francisco. He completed his education at the Art Institute, Academy of Art and the University of San Francisco. He has had one-man shows in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans and Carmel and has collectors from across the U.S. as well as Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, England, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.

Erickson's work has evolved steadily and contains a confidence and maturity gained only by dedication and talent. Sometimes the paintings have a more urban energy with whirring colors flying across a brightly lit metropolis. The shapes, so perfectly formed, propel the pigment off the surface of the canvas. Erickson, transforming the flat plane, breathes life and depth into his paintings and pulls the viewer into the experience. He does this by modulating color against color and form against form in such a way that you feel you can travel within the work.

Erickson humorously refers to himself as a "blue collar painter". He has a tremendous work ethic and is in his studio nearly every day. It is easy to see his quick progression in experimenting with differing aesthetic issues and emerging with his own very original and individual voice.


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