In the quest of searching for my life’s purpose, I met Artist Elisa Sheehan. Walking down the alley, we talked about ‘purpose’, ‘nature’s influence’, ‘balancing life’ and ‘IKIGAI’. She re-affirmed my faith in how we never meet anyone without a reason.
Manvi: ‘Some impulses cannot be denied’ why do you feel so? Tell us more about this…
Elisa Sheehan: For years before I took the plunge into full-time art, I had been feeling the pull to do so. I simply could not ignore it any longer. I had been a solo graphic designer for 13 years, I was painting on the side, and I was homeschooling my children (still am!) Something had to be given. The decision was clear and my action immediate. I closed my design business in order to pursue art as much as possible.
Manvi: When did you discover that ‘ART’ is your Ikigai? How has discovering your Ikigai changed your life?
Elisa: I suppose I always knew and that’s why I kept doing it regardless of my life circumstance and regardless of how busy I was with other commitments. I always made art, sometimes it was just more than at other times. I think finally giving over to it has changed my life in a way that it has given me the freedom to say, “I am an artist” and feel that with every ounce of my being.
P.C. Elisa Sheehan, “Windswept II” Acrylic and Oil on Paper
On a practical level, it means that each and every work day is filled with doing what I love.
Manvi: Your paintings have nature’s influence. Do you often find yourself lost in the rustic beauty of nature? Is that what pushes you to travel even more?
Elisa: YES! Precisely. My days are not complete unless I get some amount of outdoor time reveling in nature’s beauty. The more the better. It’s so easy to get lost in nature, from the largest things like beautiful mountain views to the tiniest plants and how each season affects them. And yes, the desire to see nature in all its variations across the world is a huge motivator.
P.C. Heather Bohm-Tallman
Manvi: We would love to know more about ‘Kintsugi Eggshells’ and your thought process behind making such exquisite installations…
Elisa: Kintsugi Eggshells started accidentally. I used to get up early to paint and see some eggshells sitting on our countertop waiting for the compost bin. They looked so papery and pure on the inside that I decided to doodle in them while hovering over the heater waiting for my studio to warm up. Eventually, I ended up having many of them and I was taken. As I worked on them, naturally some of them broke. That’s when the idea of kintsugi came to mind.
P.C. Elisa Sheehan, Assorted Kintsugi Eggshells
Kintsugi is a Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver and thereby elevating its status. With my eggshells, I use this principle and create a visual representation of that. I love that something so small and fragile can still hold the same amount of beauty. And, I love the life lesson of loving something for its flaws and not its perfection. Beauty in the brokenness is how I’ve come to think of them.
Manvi: Being an artist, how do you deal with your imperfections?
Elisa: Sometimes well, sometimes not so well 🙂 I always try to keep in mind the idea of process over perfection and that the value of a studio art practice is in ‘creating something’. I try not to focus on the outcome as much as my daily work and growth.
Manvi: As an artist, is there any other artist that you deeply admire? Why?
Elisa: Too many to name! Like so many other (particularly female) artists, I love Helen Frankenthaler’s work. She always came across as fearless in her work. It fascinates me that one can see and feel that.
Let’s get to know you otherwise –
Manvi: What is your day-to-day routine like?
Elisa: It depends on the day. I still homeschool my 2 children, but my husband and I share that responsibility! Because I don’t get to work every day, I cram in as much studio time as possible when he takes care of the kids. I still wake up earlier than everyone else but now it’s not to work – it’s to have time to myself, to enjoy my cup of coffee, read, or just think and plan out my day. I go outside every single day. If I’m in a rut, or a bad mood or just frustrated, stepping outside even just for a few minutes helps. Being in nature solves so many problems! It helps that we live in a very beautiful little country spot as well. Because my kids are at home and I work from home, we usually get to have all of our meals together which I think is incredibly rare and special and I try to enjoy that and feel grateful for it.
Otherwise, I’m just listening to podcasts and working away!
Manvi: If you had to describe yourself in two words, what would they be?
Elisa: I don’t knooowwww!
Manvi: One thing as an artist you wish to give back to society.
Elisa: What a question! I think with my current eggshell work what I’m feeling myself and what so many others are gravitating towards is this idea of just being. Being ok with who you are and how you are, accepting and celebrating all of our flaws and imperfections. I think this is so true for women as we age. If my work can highlight the idea of both beauty and imperfection at the same time, I think that’s wonderful!
(Exclusive for Real Life Heroes – By Manvi)