Artist Elizabeth Simon learns the power of confidence that comes with age. Photo Robin May
Elizabeth Simon is no stranger to a paint brush. The Lafayette woman has always painted. But it would be years before she truly found her voice on canvas.
“When I was younger I tried to paint images. No abstraction at all,” Simon says. “In a way I had rules and I had to paint something that looked like something else. Now is so much more freeing.”
Where Simon finds herself now is 43 years old and in a great place with her work. “I’m just letting the paint guide me or what I’m inspired by,” she says, noting a dramatic change in her methods.
It’s clear Simon has found a sort of sweet spot in recent years as an artist. A good place to be. And yet, she has no regrets that she did not take this path when she first earned a degree in art history years ago. “I realized it would be hard to support myself, and I came back and went to nursing school ... I let go of art for a while and started back a couple of years ago. This is really what I wanted and really makes me happy.”
About a year ago Simon’s husband encouraged her to start a business and she got serious about the brush. “I don’t think I could have even done this in my 20s,” she says. “I have more confidence to do what I’ve really always wanted to do.”
What Simon is doing is creating very abstract, contemporary work with inspiration from nature, foliage, water. “Anything outside basically,” she says. “The paint colors themselves. I get inspiration just by looking at a color. I try not to give myself any rules to follow. I really try to make it fun.”
Despite the abstract nature of Simon’s work, it can be found in some traditional homes. “It gives it that eclectic look,” Simon says.
And then there is a home like Jennifer McKay’s, where a Simon piece looks most certainly at home. “Her painting totally fits in the rest of the house,” McKay says. The contemporary home overlooking the Vermilion River has a wall of glass that opens the entire back of the house to the water. You literally feel like you’re outside.
And Simon’s piece in that light-filled space was just what the collector of contemporary art was looking for. “It’s so simple and delicate and the composition is beautiful,” McKay says.
Only later did McKay realize the painting was from the hands of Simon — their husbands went to school together.
“I loved it before I even knew it was Elizabeth’s,” McKay says.