Erin Dertner: Light Enlivens her Soul
Whether the cool shadows of early morning or those falling long and warm in the evening, artist Erin Dertner says the subject matter of her paintings is secondary to the light itself. Light enlivens her creative soul like nothing else and painting, studying and teaching the subject of light is Erin’s driving force.
A native Californian, she was born in San Jose and spent eighth through twelfth grades in South Lake Tahoe. “After high school, I stayed in the Sierra foothills but have been on the coast now for thirty-two years.” She arrived on the coast in 1986, when her husband, Tomas, enrolled in a pottery apprenticeship program at the Mendocino Art Center. “He did that for our first two years while I painted.” Tomas is now her business partner, acting as her picture framer and agent. “We raised our boys here,” she says, “and they both pursued careers in the arts, Abe in music and Levi in film. They live in Los Angeles.”
Travel has played a formidable role in her development. Erin relishes each opportunity to explore new environs like Greece, France, and Italy as well the Hawaiian and British Isles, and her native America. “All choice locations that speak volumes about God’s wondrous world of color, drama, and mystery.” She has studied with many well-known artists in these inspirational places.
Her studio on California’s dramatic north coast is well broken in, although she relishes painting en plein air since it allows her to capture the essence of a place, communicating light, temperature, color and mood. “There is nothing better than sitting out in the elements with the light streaming through the trees, the waves crashing or the flowers bursting.” She mentions the Open Paint Out and Plein Air Festival each September in Mendocino as a favorite event. “I have taken part every year, and once as a featured artist. I love plein air events and have also taken part in Shelter Cove and Pt. Reyes.”
When the weather doesn’t permit, Erin can draw from thousands of photos she has taken, recreating the sensations she felt while taking them. Her allegiance rests more and more with the impressionist school, struggling to be honest and deliberate, reaching to simplify and suggest details. The resulting images reflect peace and a yearning for stillness in a world that is often discordant. Most of her current works are in oil, but she is also an experienced watercolorist and has worked in dry pastel and acrylics as well.
Erin’s work can be seen in a variety of galleries and collections around the world, both originals and reproductions. Locally, her work is shown in Mendocino at The Highlight Gallery and the Mendocino Art Center and at the Erin Dertner Studio and Frame Shop, in Fort Bragg. Farther afield, she shows in Lahaina, Maui. “I’ve shown at the Village Gallery in Lahaina since 1997 and do really well there. I have won the Lahaina poster contest four times since 2004. I also show at the Jessel Gallery in Napa and the Edward Montgomery gallery in Carmel.”
Erin enjoys giving workshops at the Mendocino Art Center. “This year it will be November 3 and 4, a combination of brush and palette knife work with oil. Next year I have something scheduled for late August for three days, as well as conducting one or two international workshops, possibly in Sweden and Greece. People can refer to my website for up to the date information.”
Her schedule of location and studio work, travel, teaching, studying, art publication, while making time for family and social gatherings, is busy, but she balances it with seeming ease. “All in all,” she says, “I have a tremendous life, full of visual inspiration that serves to satisfy the heart and soul.”
You can learn more about Erin Dertner and view her art at www.ErinDertner.com