One Day in a Studio: Tamanda Elia

Posted by Elizaveta Zhurkovskaya on

Tamanda Elia is an impressionist painter who lives and works in St. Catharines, Ontario. She primarily works with oil paint but varies her subject from landscape to still life. After many years she is now an International artist selling works to private collections in Europe, Australia, the USA, and Canada.  We interviewed Tamanda to learn more about her practice, inspirations, and what she is working on today.


1. How does your creative day look like and what inspires you to make art? Has your creative day changed to COVID-19? 

On a weekday, I wake up and see my husband off to work, get my son ready for school (special needs program), dogs walked, and my daughter off to work, and then after all the mom stuff is sorted, I head downstairs to my studio.  Since COVID, I only have four hours to paint if I’m lucky without any interruptions. I try to do all my photo shoots, reference collecting, sketches, and preparations ahead of time (in the evenings, on weekends) because I want to be able to paint continuously. I like to warm up my painting skills with a small “daily painting” of an object or two (these compositions are all preplanned ahead of time).  In the last two hours, I work on larger canvases.  I like to have a few on the go at one time so I can choose which one I work on and not feel restricted.  

2. Tell us more about your art studio.

My studio space has changed locations throughout the house and has landed most recently, in the basement family room. Much needed space took priority over natural light from windows. Everything I need is in this space, art supplies, picture rails for wet work, and lots of storage room.  It’s great. I do have a tendency to move everything around but I have lots of storage and just enough tabletops to get by. I really try hard not to look too closely at the mess because I will start focusing on redesigning the space instead of my work. What I love best about my space is all my art supplies. I cannot have enough brushes, or paint, or solvent, or canvases. I will use it all eventually, until then, I am well stocked.  


3.How did you get interested in your medium(s)?

I tried oil paint when I was a teenager and then again in University, it was mandatory. I never really questioned it. It was just what you used. When I think about it now, I like oil because you can change, correct, and manipulate it easier than other paint types. It is much more forgiving.  I love the texture and colours that you get from oil. I have been using oil paint for so long that whenever I smell it now, whether in an art gallery or just enter a studio, it smells like home.  

4.Describe your style in one sentence.

I paint colourful paintings with lots of movement and energy in an impressionistic style. The subjects may change but the ambition to create emotional visuals comes through no matter what the study might be of. My philosophy to my art is to put everything into it.

5. Has your style changed over time?

My style has changed over the years in both application and subject. My painting style has stayed impressionistic but I know that I spend less time ‘correcting’ during the painting process. I feel my painting skills have gained strength as I can render more realistic objects.  I used to always gravitate to figurative work and now I gravitate to still life and landscape. I realized that objects and places can give off a much stronger atmosphere and emotional energy than people and their expressions. To me, placement of objects, energy from lines, and colours are much more exciting than just a raised eyebrow.

6. What are your main artistic tools?

Oil paint - I like to try different paints but right now I am using Winton and M. Graham oil.

Brushes - I use flats the most, then brights and rounds only for direct lines and details.

Canvas - This has changed over the years but now I use gallery double frame for large art, regular profile for smaller.

Medium - Linseed oil/walnut oil /odorless solvent – I keep playing around with ratios to see what is best.

Glass palette -  This is imperative. It cleans up like a dream and lasts for years.

Lots of jars -  I have a system where I use a small amount of odorless solvent for each session. I let it sit for three days after to settle, then pour the top cleaner in clean jar for a different session.  In the meanwhile, I have other jars on the go or waiting. It is a lot of small jars but it allows me to keep squeezing as much of the solvent out as possible.

Varnish  -  Matte varnish.


7. Do you ever experience creativity blocks and how do you stay positive and inspired?

I’m always being interrupted and it took years for me to figure out techniques to get myself back into the right groove. My day is scheduled around everyone else’s so I make blocks of time for everything. My painting gets a block somewhere always, it may get pushed around when things come up, but I always make time.

Changing things up. I try not to do the same thing every day. I paint a variety of paintings at the same time, this way if I’m really not in the mood to paint that foggy landscape,  I can work on a whimsical daily painting instead. Having a terrible painting day? I stop and start researching, sketching out thumbnails, or online to see painting tutorials. If that doesn’t work? Going for a walk somewhere new and taking photos can work too. I think the main aspect is to keep trying.


8. What artists – either contemporary or from history – have had an impact on you and your art practice?

Of course, the Impressionists like Manet and Cassatt had a profound influence, as well as the Group of Seven but for me it’s the contemporary artists that give me more impact. The internet showed me a lot of contemporary artists that are out there currently making great work. I think the artist that made the most impact on me was Carol Marine. I really love her painting style but I think what I was more impressed with was how she, and as I have since learned, many other artists have also created a full-time career for themselves.   It gave me the confidence to put myself out there.


9. Do you think the art world has changed or will be changing due to the pandemic? If yes, how?

I think the internet has changed life for all of us but for artists, we have the ability to put our artwork out there for all to see. Exhibits from galleries and online shows can reach further than ever before. With more people staying at home more often, the computer becomes more and more important in our lives. It’s the right place to be featured.


10. What project are you working on right now? What will you like to do next?

I’m finishing off a few things right now but I will soon be starting on organizing things for next year. I know I want to explore roses as well as a few landscapes I have lined up.

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