Hey there, Nerdship! I hope you’re enjoying the crisp autumn air as much as I am. It sure is such a welcome change from the oppressive humidity that is the hallmark of a Carolina summer.
I don’t know about you, but when the leaves change color and start to blanket the grass and the jack-o’-lanterns take their positions to stand guard for goblins during the lengthening nights, I am always reminded that yet another calendar year is coming to a close. Soon it will be Thanksgiving, and then it’s all downhill from there. Our time has run out. The report card has been sealed. I start to reflect and wonder: Did I do everything I set out to do this year? Did I learn? Did I grow? Did I leave more smiles in my wake than tears? How will I remember the year 2014?
If I remember only one thing about 2014, I hope I remember that it was the year that I fell in love with my city. I was born and raised in Raleigh and have lived in or near Raleigh for the majority of my life. I’ve just never loved it before. Not like I do now.
I am not ashamed to admit it. I love Raleigh. I love Raleigh restaurants. I love Raleigh stores. I love Raleigh (uh, okay, Durham) coffee. And I love Raleigh artists so much that it would be a crime for me not to interrupt your regularly scheduled pumpkin-related post to introduce you to one of the hidden gems of the Raleigh art community: Elena Caron.
Art is a very personal experience for me. When I hang a painting, I feel like I’m hanging a piece of the artist on my wall. That makes it important to me to acquire art that tells a story, that’s more a snapshot of my life in a moment in time than a pretty picture to bring the room together.
I had been seeking the right artist to paint a custom piece for me for about two years before I discovered Elena. I was introduced to her by her husband. We work together downtown, and having co-workers who have artists in the family (and most of whom are artists themselves!) has exposed me to more of the Raleigh culture. I found Elena’s art to be intimate and moving, and I was excited beyond words that she agreed to take my commission.
I asked Elena for a two-panel piece. She interviewed me to get to know me better before she even decided on the painting dimensions, and I let the remnants of my soy latte go cold as I shared details of myself with her that I haven’t told very many others.
What Elena did was perfect. Using the encaustic method (wax—how cool!), she gave birth to “Ebb & Flow.” I am thankful for what this painting reminds me every time I see it: Everything in life has its gives and takes, ups and downs, but no matter how tumultuous the waves are in any particular moment, the surface water always eventually settles back out again over the steady heartbeat of a current.
While Elena has done several beautiful encaustic and acrylic pieces, her latest adventures have been in the softer, more romantic worlds of watercolors and embroidery. She has painted a series of watercolor flowers and had gorgeous watercolor-flower notecards printed. The paper stock is made of 50% recycled material, and the cards are printed locally in Raleigh. The cards happen to be just the right size: big enough to express meaningful appreciation, but small enough not to have to vomit pointless babble just to avoid looking like you didn’t care enough to fill out an entire card. You can check those out on her website. (Pro tip: They make great gifts, too! Man, I should get commission on sales….)
Elena’s newest line is focused on women and girls with strong personalities who let their spirits sparkle, regardless of what anyone else says. Women like Amelia Earhart, who followed their dreams and forged the path for others to reach new heights. Women like Lucille Ball, who spread laughter and joy. Elena’s new watercolors, embroidery, and cards manage to highlight the beauty of each woman while also showcasing the qualities that make each one so unique and memorable.
Nerdship, I encourage you to go check out Elena Caron’s work. And then I even more strongly encourage you to go check out the local artists in your own community. Check your local event listings for art crawls. Ask your friends if they want to drink free wine and eat free cheese with you at the next local gallery opening. And don’t forget to strike up a conversation with the artists while you’re there: You never know what gifts those magical, creative people will bestow on you once you form a friendship over coffee.