Elise Morris


Elise Morris explores what she calls “silent moments of magic created by nature’s constant state of change.” She works from a deep desire to connect with her natural surroundings, and finds beauty in simple and fleeting passages of leaves moving in light and shadow. For her work on canvas, Elise begins each piece with a simple line drawing, builds a ground in acrylic, and then adds many thin layers of translucent oil paint. The works on paper are more spare, combining acrylic and graphite on watercolor paper. The resulting images are fresh and airy, yet grounded. They explore the boundary between natural forms and abstraction, and demonstrate the artist’s mastery of light and space.

In the artists own words: “My work is about exploring nature’s point of view, particularly fleeting moments of growth and change. I find inspiration in the natural world, looking not only at the shapes of leaves and blossoms, but to the beautiful shadows that are cast in the Northern California sun. While I like to explore different palettes, this particular body of work was inspired by the colors of California’s landscape—the blue of the skies, seas, and morning mist, combined with the warm gold and brown tones of the hills. I begin each piece with a simple line drawing, and add washes of paint. I then create layers of space within the work, allowing the piece to approach the edge of abstraction. When working with water-based media there is a real immediacy—it is impossible to go back or cover anything up—so each mark lives as a record of the magic moment when gesture, pigment, and paper meet. Like Helen Frankenthaler and other artists of her generation, I let the paint seep into and stain the paper’s surface rather than accumulating pigment on top of it, leaving room for light and space to permeate the work. In this way, I try to make something that is both abstract and specific, ethereal and grounded.”


Morris received a BA in painting and printmaking at UC Santa Cruz in 1997, and was the recipient of the Hyde and Benteen Irwin Scholarship for excellence and promise in the visual arts. She lived in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1998 until 2000. In 2005, she completed an MFA from the JFK University Arts & Consciousness program in Berkeley, CA. She has exhibited extensively, and has work in corporate and individual collections throughout the US and internationally. She is represented by galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Palo Alto, and at SLATE contemporary in Oakland. Elise Morris currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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