Eileen Dorsey on Inspiration and the Progression of Her Artwork

Whenever I pass through 78th Street Studios, I pop into Eileen Dorsey’s space to see what she’s working on. This fall will make nine years that she has held her studio practice on the first floor. Eileen has been a colleague and a peer for at least six of those nine years and each conversation we have about her work is more enlightening than the last.

Her experiments with color come naturally and like any hardworking artist she can find motivation outside the studio. “My most recent inspirational moment was when I went to the Wynwood Walls last month in Miami. I was taken by the quality of work, the scale of it all and how it was available to the public. When I returned to my studio the following week, I stretched a few fairly large canvases and let myself play around with some new paint applications. It was as fun and exhilarating as I thought it would be.”

This experience, as well as the newly launched Watch it Wednesdays—a behind-the-scenes look at artists making their work—has been a boon to Dorsey. “This event has allowed me to experiment with my work a bit more. Last month I created a five-by-seven-foot abstract on canvas. These new abstract works are a natural progression to my work. I feel that if I let myself loosen up I can paint faster and it would read more expressive, relying on my own intuitions.”

What’s cool about being an artist is that one can be drawn to work that is (seemingly) opposite to one’s current style. It’s interesting to note that none of Eileen’s favorite artists are landscape painters. “I have always been drawn to expressive painters who aren’t afraid to use a lot of paint or can make a single stroke say so much more then it is.” She continues, “When I was in college, I was a figurative painter and studied, Egon Schiele, Alice Neel, Cecily Brown and Dana Schutz. I was also a huge fan of de Kooning’s Woman series.”

When I am working on a painting, I have a tendency to mentally walk through the piece. I have always wondered if Eileen subconsciously inserts herself into her landscapes as well. “Yes and no,” she responds and then confides, “I will tell you this. I often think that the different shapes and colors of the trees have different personalities. If they were alive and could talk, the more colorful, bendy ones would be more of the comedian and the straight, more traditional ones would be more serious. I play this game in real life too while I go hiking. I know it is really silly and I probably shouldn’t be telling anyone about it. HA!”

We should all look forward to her upcoming show in June at BAYarts titled Home is Where the Art Is. In a series of work based on reflections of her childhood home, she tackles feelings of loneliness, anxiety and being displaced, and responds by identifying specific areas that exude calm. “These paintings have almost been meditative, and they remind me to cherish the things that are important.”

Eileen is in the beginning throes of creating video content for my social media platforms. Through her Facebook Live feed, the artist gives you an opportunity to apply a discount on one of her paintings through the Dice Game. You can check out all her social media spots on Twitter and Instagram (@eileendorsey) and Facebook (eileendorseystudio).

Eileen Dorsey Studio

1305 West 80th Street

Cleveland, Ohio 44102