Art Matters: Bellingen Artist and Mentor Elisa Hall

Elisa Hall’s life has always been immersed in the creative.  “I was lucky to be brought up with parents who loved art and culture so it was fostered at home. I can’t remember a time of not being obsessed with drawing and painting,” says Elisa.

Her latest collection of oil paintings, along with those of her art students, is currently being exhibited at the Federal Hotel Bellingen.  We chatted with Elisa about her work and her role as mentor and teacher to so many local emerging artists…….

How instrumental was your parents’ early encouragement in determining your future life in the arts?

Very.  My parents sent me off to courses, and to kids film festivals, and there were always trips to the library so books were important too. After school I bummed around for a while but then my dad drove me to the art school and made me enrol.

Can you give a brief history of your creative path since that fateful enrolment to study art?

I went to the art school in Adelaide and got a degree in printmaking. I’d always wanted to be a painter, however, so I went back to a private school in my thirties to learn historical techniques and principles. I was always having shows and being in group shows, and art collectives sometimes.

‘Pears’ by Elisa Hall

How has your art evolved over time?

My art has completely evolved. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s exciting to go exploring. Youth brings a certain boldness while being older adds complexity. Last year I did some big charcoal drawings for the first time.

What or who has influenced your work?

I was heavily influenced by the two superb teachers I had, who believed in my work and my worth as an artist. They both strived for excellence in the craft, so the construction of the image was as important as the subject matter. I also have a lot of time for the renaissance artists. Its super cool to know how they painted.

How would you describe your art now?

My art now is a mix. I spent a long time doing portraits and then still lives but now I’m heading into atmospheric landscape. I’m always wanting to elicit some kind of response, whether it’s to the colour or the forms, the pattern of the composition or the light.

What role does the artist have in society?

The artist has a myriad of roles. From social commentator to bringer of delight or wonder, to decorator. I think they’re all valid in their own way, I just like them to be done well. Artists add such a richness to our world and it’s horrible seeing the whole industry being so undervalued by those in power. I have had the experience of the beauty and wonder of an artwork make me cry.

How important is it that artists (even novices) receive some training/ education? Is this crucial to an artist being able to grow and develop?

I don’t think you have to have training, you can be very free that way. Training for me though was the best thing I could have done because it enabled me to create the kinds of paintings I wanted to do, and it’s all quite technical, and probably not something easy to discover on your own. It’s given me an incredible depth of knowledge about the materials and how to use them. I think you can grow and develop either way, they’re just different paths.

How long have you been a teacher of fine arts?

Ive been teaching for more than twenty years. I love it.

What do you seek to achieve with your students?

I’m really in a mentoring role with most of my students. I like to think that I educate them, as well as encourage them to try anything, to problem solve, to love the process and, importantly, to uplift and encourage and share with each other in the group situation.

Can you describe the current exhibition?

The show is a mixed bag of styles and subject matters, but I would share that there is an absolute love of paint and what it can do among everybody. I’m super proud of all of them.


The exhibition of paintings at the Federal Hotel Bellingen runs until October 31st and includes the works of Elisa Hall, Bev Fischer, Leesa Murray, Ruth Powley, Joie Vanrenen and Rowena Parkes



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