Artist Elizabeth Cross. Lia Crowe photography

In Studio with Artist Elizabeth Cross

The colour of passion

  • May. 11, 2021 10:30 a.m.

– Story by Lin Stranberg Photography by Lia Crowe

Elizabeth Cross is inspired by love, passion, art and the environment.

“This may sound cheesy, but I believe love is the ultimate thing in life,” she says.

It’s quickly apparent that for Cross, a free-spirited and prolific painter, serious businesswoman and busy mother of three teenage girls, painting itself is a great love affair and grand passion.

Cross has been painting for 30 years, but she held back on exhibiting her work publicly until 2018. It has taken off like a rocket ever since, and eliminated her reluctance for good. She has produced probably 200 paintings for exhibit and sale, and has shown in both Vancouver and Seattle at Art Vancouver, Lillian Gallery and Lynn Hanson Gallery, among other venues. She has also participated in “live” painting competitions throughout Vancouver. Her work is currently showing in Kitsilano at Stock Home Design and at Art Downtown, Vancouver’s newest outdoor art exhibition.

Her art is mainly abstract: she loves to paint flowers and faces in bold, bright acrylic colours that just explode off the canvases—bright reds, pinks, yellows and greens, plus black and white for special high-contrast pieces. She makes her paintings more textural with gels, glitter, sparkles and, unusually, bits of used fabric from clothing.

“It adds quite a bit of interest and texture and also helps to save the material from going to landfill,” she says.

Her deep feeling for sustainability and the environment is authentic—it’s part of her background as a bio-resource engineer and environmental specialist.

After earning her master’s degree in bio-resource engineering from UBC, she worked as an environmental advisor in Vancouver for corporations like Telus and YVR. Now she runs her own start-up, Moda Circolare, a consulting agency for new and existing brands of sustainable fashion. The way she sees it, it’s a natural offshoot of her environmental advisory.

“The issues are the same: social and environmental issues, governance and so on. The difference is that in the case of Telus, for example, the issue may have been electronic waste, while with fashion it’s about things like fabric waste or solvents.”

As much as she helps people with her environmental expertise, her real ambition is to feel and communicate joy through the paintings she make and sells. Earning money through her paintings keeps the whole thing going.

“I love to paint big pieces and I can go a little crazy with paint,” she says.

She always paints outside, often under a big patio umbrella in the rain: “The cold and rain don’t bother me, but some days my hands feel like they’re freezing.”

She has no set plan when she begins a canvas. She never paints from nature, models or photographs.

“I paint it all from my head,” she says. “I paint whatever I feel that day, in the colours I feel like using. If I’m in a yellow mood, I’ll paint in that colour that day.”

She spends an average of four to eight hours on a painting, frequently returning to them.

“Sometimes they’re hard to leave alone—I’m always trying to improve them.”

She describes herself as a “hopeless, dreamy, ridiculously loving” romantic, and the titles of many of her paintings are overt references to her belief in the appeal of romantic love. “My Lover’s Last Kiss,” “I Am So Attracted to You,” “Falling in Love For the First Time” and “Love Shines Brighter When You Are Near” are typical titles for both the flowers and faces she likes to paint. The colours all speak of passion. But some of the flowers have a darker aspect and some faces, while abstract, have a feeling of sadness about them that may speak to the mysteries and potential heartaches of love as well.

There are a pair of dress shoes on her website (elizabethcross.ca) that she has painted in orange, purple, blue and green that “represent the treadmill of daily life, the running out of time and that life is so very precious.”

But this romantic can be a sentimentalist too. As both a scientist and an artist, she lives in a left brain/right brain duality that is both charismatic and rare.

When she was completing her first degree (in agriculture) at UBC, she took some art courses and picked up the basics of drawing, mixed media, acrylic and oil painting. During that period, she had the pleasure of meeting Zbigniew Kupczynski, a Polish-Canadian abstract expressionist, at a South Granville art store. Kupczynski’s wildly colourful portraits of children and celebrities made a lasting impression of her. As a young student, she could only afford his prints and bought two of them. Kupczynski, in turn, was impressed that a student was buying his work.

“I loved the vibrant colours he used and the expression of his work. I loved how he geometrically broke down the faces,” she said.

She took metalwork courses at Van Tech while studying for her master’s degree at UBC, and again at BCIT more than 10 years later.

“Welding’s very therapeutic. I used to make tables, beds, candleholders and mirrors and sell them at craft fairs,” she says, adding that her teenage daughters learned to weld in high school.

Cross, originally from Ontario, travelled extensively as a child. Her father, a geologist, had a career that took him all over the globe, and he moved his family wherever he went. When Elizabeth was 12, they came back to Canada and settled in Vancouver, where she’s lived ever since.

She recently moved from the modern house she and her husband built in Dunbar into “a big old yellow house” in Kerrisdale. It’s a family home, full of love and artwork. One of her daughters’ larger-than life metal sculptures welcomes you at the door, making it clear that it’s occupied by a very creative family.

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

ArtartistEntertainment

Just Posted

Tammy Bradford, manager of the Creston Museum & Archives for the last 23 years, wants to welcome visitors to check out their exhibits and programs this summer. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston Museum encourages summer visitors to check out programs and activities

After some temporary closures of indoor exhibits due to COVID-19, the museum has re-opened to welcome visitors

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

Nasukin Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band poses under the mural in the administration building. The mural depicts past elders David Luke, Wilfred Jacobs, Isobel Louie, Charlotte Basil, and Louis White. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Lower Kootenay Band announces cross-border COVID-19 vaccine clinic

In partnership with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the clinic will be held on National Indigenous Peoples Day

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters block Castlegar’s main street for 24 hours

Members of Extinction Rebellion stayed overnight in downtown Castlegar

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read