’ My goal is to design a watercolor that is an exciting, moving feast that celebrates my heritage. I paint objects that have deep personal meaning, attempting to push the medium by layering colors so the painting is saturated with richness, depth and clarity.’ — Eleanor Meier
By Irene Ruddock
Setauket artist Eleanor Tyndall Meier is a contemporary realist still life painter. A former art educator, her work has been published in the New York Times, New Art International and Splash: Watercolor Discoveries. Meier has received many awards in juried exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, and she is a signature member of the Baltimore Watercolor Society as well as exhibiting with the Rhode Island, Houston and Adirondack Watercolor Societies.
A former president of the Catherine Lorillard Art Club, Meier is currently on the advisory council at Gallery North and the steering committee of The Long Island Museum’s LIMarts, where she was chosen to be August’s 2018 Artist of the Month at the museum’s Visitors Center.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Meier as she prepares to move her art studio to Centerport.
You have a breathtaking array of awards and accomplishments. What do you consider your most meaningful?
After retiring from a career of teaching art to high school students, many of whom are dear friends today, I had the opportunity to paint and make art a daily activity, to exhibit and to develop friendships with other committed artists. Using skills developed as a teacher I now find a special fulfillment in planning research trips to galleries, colleges, museums and other art centers.
How do you design your compositions?
I paint large still life tableaux that are filled with treasured objects arranged on patterned and textured fabrics. The images consist of solid forms that reflect shifting nuances with webs of shadow. Using themes such as kimonos, Delft china, silver Revere bowls, cups and saucers, colored glass, white objects — whatever deeply moves me and excites the mind’s eye. I try to design the arrangements so that the painting will be infused with a sense of myth, mystery and magic.
How do you choose the objects for your paintings?
I use objects that have been passed from generation to generation, objects that have the potential for significance because of past association. They may be grand or humble, glistening or tarnished, but they must animate the surface, breathing energy and vigor into my compositions.
Is there another art form that you enjoy?
Since the human figure is one of the most enduring themes in the visual arts, I find that drawing from the live model inspires all my artistic endeavors. I find it is a needed exercise to sharpen the vision, improve eye-hand coordination and to energize the right side of the brain.
Are there artists from whom you draw your inspiration?
I admire the works of Dine, Demuth, O’Keefe, Rothko, Beal and Freckleton. I have studied Dine’s work, noting that he selects an object that has meaning to him, uses it and transforms it into an exciting icon. I am drawn to the richness and luminous color in Rothko’s paintings, the use of the diagonal in the exciting compositions of Beal and Freckelton, the delicacy of a Demuth apple and the singular focus as found in an O’Keefe flower. I also attend galleries, studios and museums in New York City, Houston, Italy and Geneva — wherever in the world I travel.
Can you tell us about the Catherine Lorillard Art Club?
The organization is a 130-year-old organization of women artists started by a bequest from Catherine Lorillard Wolfe, who was the only female on the board of founders of the Metropolitan Museum. The club exhibits yearly at the National Arts Club and the Salmagundi Club, attracting world class women artists. As an artist working alone, I find that being involved with this prestigious art organization has given me the opportunity to befriend many dedicated professionals and to share ideas which stimulate the creative process.
You are on the steering committee for LIMarts, an art group associated with The Long Island Museum. What can you tell us about that?
Working with the innovative Neil Watson, executive director of the museum, has been fun. His interest in giving Long Island artists opportunities to exhibit their work has been exciting and inspiring. I am honored to have been chosen to be Artist of the Month and will be exhibiting at The Long Island Museum’s Visitor Center, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook through the month of August.
Soon you will be moving to Centerport. What will you miss most about this area?
I will always be involved in this area. The Three Villages and surrounding towns have become a vibrant area for art on Long Island. The many museums, galleries and artist studios have all raised the presence of art, making it an important center for art exhibits, art talks and art education. It is an exciting community in which to live and I am happy to have a small part in its new presence on the art map of Long Island.
As a leader in the art world, what has art meant to you over the years?
Art has always been my life and passion. I now have the time to paint every day, to exhibit, to work on various art-related committees, to plan art trips to the city and other venues. It makes life happy and fulfilling.