Byrdcliffe A.i.R. Presents
Short Insights into the Creative Process
#4 Eleanor Ray
Eleanor Ray was born in Gainesville, Florida. She earned a BA in English and Studio Art at Amherst College, and an MFA in painting from the New York Studio School. She traveled from her home in New York City to participate in Byrdcliffe’s July residency session, during which she created about two dozen tiny paintings in her studio. Below, she answers some questions about her intricate work and spending time in Upstate NY:
1. What are you working on during your residency at Byrdcliffe?
I came to Byrdcliffe after a two-month break from painting, and was eager to get some momentum going again. I tried to make one painting a day. I started out working with images of places I’d been recently, including New York City and California, and then began painting things around the Byrdcliffe Colony and the surrounding woods.
2. You work pretty exclusively in a very small-scale format, which creates interesting limitations within the work. How did you arrive at this process? Do you find it challenging to work at this size?
After working on a variety of scales, from 11 x 14″ to 40 x 60″, for several years, I stumbled on the smaller scale–5 x 7″ and smaller–and found that something about it was very satisfying to me.
The limitations of that size provided new freedoms. I felt more in control of the image, and more able to be concise and focused. The scale of the marks began to make more sense as well. I hope that the small scale gives the paintings a certain intimacy and intensity.
3. Could you describe any particular moments of inspiration during your time at Byrdcliffe?
Byrdcliffe gave us all a good balance of peace and stimulation. It was great to have the quiet days in the woods to work, but then be able to talk to fellow artists and writers at night. It was refreshing to spend so much time with a group of people who believe in the inherent value of art and literature.