When I was growing up, I read the newspaper every day. And by “read the newspaper”, I mean that I went straight to the funnies section to see what Calvin & Hobbes were up to. I loved Calvin’s neverending creativity, his energy and his alter egos like Spaceman Spiff and Tracer Bullet, as well as the fact a box could be turned into almost anything. When I first saw the work of Erin Fostel, all these memories came flooding back.
The recently married artist has set aside studio space in the couple’s quaint new Baltimore home, while her husband – also an artist – keeps the odor of his paints in his garage studio. Within her light-pink walls, Erin surrounds herself with shelves of books, toys, a cat, a drafting table and an empty wall for larger drawings. Her space is as organized and tight as the technical precision of her charcoal drawings.
In one series of drawings, she portrays two people – herself and an imaginary playmate, also played by her. The duo play off each other, but one usually seems to be the leader in their adventure. The toys in her studio act as props and costume pieces. These props are rendered realistically as toys while the backgrounds often become another world.
As I walked from her studio to her living room I discover two wonderful cardboard costume creations — a dinosaur monster and a robot. I restrained myself from trying one on, but I did manage to talk Erin into modeling the dinosaur so I could see it in action. It was quite the terrifying monster.
With this much fun to be had, it’s amazing that she has the patience to her drawings so maturely. After my visit she sent me an email with the realization that we “hadn’t even talked about my actual drawing materials and anything of that nature (which was really bizarre since at least 50% of my work is technique)”. But in my opinion, to appreciate her skill level with charcoal on paper, you must experience it yourself.
For more info, visit www.erinfostel.com
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