Since 1968, Nantucket Looms has been proud to represent our local craftspeople. We carry the works of over seventy different artisans, including painters, potters, basket weavers, jewelry makers and wood carvers. To honor those whose unique creations reflect the natural beauty and history of our beloved island, we will highlight an artist on our website every month. This month, meet painter Elle Foley.
With no shortage of breathtakingly beautiful scenery, it is no wonder that so many artists gravitate towards Nantucket. Walking the streets, beaches and nature trails of the island, it is not uncommon to stumble upon artists of all kinds taking in their surroundings through the medium of photography, drawing, painting and more. More often than not, you can find Elle Foley, with a sun-hat and a paintbrush, standing before an easel propped up on the cobblestones, where she can spend hours translating the soft sunset light into a delicate representation on canvas.
Since an early age, Elle has had a paintbrush in her hand. Growing up in Norwich, Connecticut, an art teacher thought she had talent so Elle would go to Norwich Free Academy on weekends to paint since as early as grade school. After high school, Elle studied painting and drawing at the Maryland Institute of Art, before moving to Boston where she went on to get a degree in architecture from the Boston Architectural Center. Elle attributes her ability to use both sides of the brain, the creative and the analytical, to her parents influence - her mother, an artist and her father, an engineer. Elle took her architectural degree to New York City, where she worked for the prestigious architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. She never left the art behind however and eventually got back to painting through the New York Students League. These days, Elle is a full time painter and splits her time between Nantucket and Florida, as well as traveling each winter to places like France, Italy, Spain and England. "I paint wherever I go. While traveling, I like to draw or sketch on the train or get an apartment for a couple of weeks and do street scenes, tour museums, paint new places."
In addition to her flare for art and architecture, Elle is a fitness enthusiast and spends her spare time running, teaching yoga or playing golf on the island. During this time spent outdoors, Elle finds inspiration in the light and shadows, the landscape and architecture around her. "I'll look at the grass or the colors and think 'I have to come back here and paint.' I'm on Nantucket spring through fall and I love the changes of seasons and the colors, riding my bike through the bogs." Elle's paintings often focus on a path or road that draws the viewer in, evoking a sense of a journey or a path not taken. As Elle paints en plein air, she has to work with the changing light, often returning for days at a time to finish larger pieces.
This year, Elle was honored with 25 years as a 'life member' of the Artists Association of Nantucket, where she also teaches painting to children and members of the community in the fall. Speaking of the Nantucket artist community, Elle echoes a message iterated by many of the artists featured in this series "It's such a nice art community here. There's room for everyone and we support each other. We all have a different style and everyone is unique. That's why I love Nantucket Looms - they really foster local artists, everything from the weaving to carving, jewelry and painting. It's such a nice mix of everything and the way they put it all together in a home, it's a whole package."
Elle Foley will be at Nantucket Looms, 51 Main Street on Thursday September 1st from 5-6pm for the opening reception of her art show, which will run for two weeks. Stop by to learn more about the artist and inspiration behind her beautiful works.