Virtual Art Gallery

Paintings by Elizabeth Wrightman 2021

Who knocked?—–(the cat, COVID, our dogs, a green door)

We have been through the past year and a half together; and artists sometimes chronicle a recent journey.  Even though in much grief after the sudden death of our dog, (plus 2020’s ever-present concerns that we could both get suddenly very ill or even die) …..We did get a puppy.  Technically it came out, exhibit-wise in different work.  (I was raising her with a method called ‘tethering’, where she was on a leash with me at all times!  It resulted in more embroidery, and also in using less fluid, easier-to-clean-up-quicker mediums.  I began using pastels!  And combining them with acrylics, (Which I knew could work given a certain use of fixatives.)  I even painted one chair!

The pandemic itself!  The animals, the waterways, the foliage all travelled alongside of us.  Why did I hear the owls so much more at night?  Why did the bobcat now stroll unconcernedly, casually right down the top of our fence?!  Why did I see a doe trot across a Pacific Grove road using the crosswalk? What did the wild grasses mean by still trustfully growing, as if all would someday be well?  What did the waterfowl make of 2020?  And now, 2021………….

The very patterns mapping one’s own inner world changed.  Three of my exhibits were immediately cancelled, like all creative artist’s work, and everybody else’s work sometimes too!  Some paintings which would have left me by now, are still here on these walls.  Some paintings became more eerie…. more mysterious.  A theme arose of helpful lights showing up……to guide us?  To reassure us?

I paint from Irish literature.  Twice since COVID James Joyce knocked at my studio door, figuratively of course.

(Two amazingly playful ‘knocks’ came back from the echoing universe.)

  • One, the first spring, from the Dublin James Joyce Center in Ireland
  • One this spring from Prof. David Rando of Trinity Univ. in San Antonio, Texas*

Toward the end of this summer I painted a scene from Ulysses, “The cat, having cleaned all her fur, returned to the meat stained paper, nosed at it and stalked to the door.” It was somehow calming to me. I did a second version.  I am now painting the fourth, (as you may have noticed).  Puzzled, I looked up my forebears in art history.  The Quaker minister Edward Hicks painted Peaceable Kingdom, of which 62 versions are known.  Monet did a series of 25 haystacks and then painted for 30 years….250 versions of water lilies.  So I felt better…..

Gallery: Click on each image

About the Artist:

Elizabeth Wrightman

Greetings, I’m Elizabeth Wrightman.  I have had the privilege and honor to exhibit many times at the gallery at Mercy Retreat Center in past years.  I have studied art since I was a young child, thanks to a program in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania schools selecting a student or two from each grade to study every Saturday morning at the Carnegie Museum.  We were called the Tam O’ Shanters!  I run into others of us from time to time across the United States!  I majored in art at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, but with my final and senior year at Univ. of California at Santa Barbara.  I also have a Masters of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Until we moved to the West Coast I served as a hospital chaplain in two large inner city hospitals in Pittsburgh.  For the past 12 years I have worked solely as a painter, beginning with our move to Carmel for family reasons.  My present exhibit is 40 works at Pacific Grove Art Center which will be there until Dec. 16, 2021. 



Two main characteristics of Irish poetry are its love of nature and its spiritual intensity.  The first Irish poem, the Song of Amergin is attributed to a Milesian prince, said to have settled there hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.  This ancient and strange poem is ascribed to a legendary Amergin but the whole story of early Ireland is wrapped in mystery, blending history and mythology. So there is much that we simply do not know! My own faith as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth finds a ‘companion world view’ at times with Celtic spirituality. (This was true in some ways of St. Patrick himself, as well.)

The Celtic speaking peoples seem to share a common view that there are several layers to reality: the ordinary world and another reality, where other beings exist that might easily make their way into everyday life. (Yes, including fairies!) Celtic stories sometimes take pleasure in this shifting reality, using animals and birds to indicate the supernatural.  The white stag, for instance, which I have frequently portrayed is an indication that the otherworld is near, and has often symbolized for some the presence of Christ.

I have painted using Irish literature for 10 years, as it is my own ancestral home; this gives me a focal point to handle the choice of subject matter, as well as the tensions of sustained studio work which combines heightened emotional intensity and the uncertainties of a freelance artist’s life.

Peace, and perhaps we shall cross paths at Mercy Retreat Center one day, Elizabeth.

All artwork © 2020, 2021 Elizabeth Wrightman