Painter Elizabeth King Finds Inspiration in New England’s Seasons

The RISD alum draws from the surrounding scenery to create her vibrant works.

Reluctant Daughter, watercolor, gouache, and acrylic on canvas, $2,000

While completing her MFA at RISD, Elizabeth King painted imagined tropical settings as a way to escape from cold New England winters. But when she accepted a year-long residency at the Umbrella Community Arts Center in Concord last year, the Massachusetts native had a change of heart. “I decided I was going to really embrace what I have at my disposal here,” she says. “And it turned out to be quite fruitful.”

On long walks around town, King observed people shoveling snow and landscaping, “battling against nature to try to tame it,” she says. Inspired by these scenes, she spent the year focusing on the ways in which humans interact with nature, from picking apples to watering gardens to planting daffodils. Although the ensuing paintings center on the same overall theme, King crafted each work as a standalone piece, developing an intricate backstory and “submerging the whole painting into a color world” to convey the mood of the characters as well as the season in which she painted it. “Each of these [paintings is] a really contained idea for me,” she says. “It feels important that it’s tied up in this nice little package.”