Elaine Ittleman started painting when her children were young. She had taken some watercolor classes at the Community College of Vermont (CCV) and found the medium conducive to the short period of time she had to devote to art. Now 62 and with all three kids grown, Ittleman has more time for her craft so she has switched to oils.
“With oils you can go back and redo things,” she said. “It’s a much longer process.”
In addition to the CCV classes, Ittleman has attended workshops for both pastels and oils. When two of her sons were living in New York City, she was able to combine visits to them with lessons at the Art Students League. Initially, her work was mostly representational but she has gravitated towards more abstract art. She makes a conscious effort not to interpret her own artwork.
“I just find it’s very personal,” she said. “Sometimes you read people’s interpretations of art and it’s so esoteric. We all look at things differently.”
Ittleman and her husband, Frank, moved to Charlotte almost four decades ago. She was an intensive care nurse at the time and Frank was a cardiac surgeon. For the last six or seven years, Ittleman has worked at the Birthing Center at UVM Medical Center.
“When my kids graduated from college, I went back to hospital nursing,” she said. “I love it. I do it because I want to. Most of the time it’s a happy place but since we do all the high-risk births in the state you also get some interesting adrenaline-filled days.”
Ittleman currently works on a per diem basis, two or three days a week, which gives her time to indulge in hobbies like downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, and horseback riding. During the days when her art was more representational, she did a lot of plein air (outdoors) painting but now she has a studio in a converted dog kennel where she can paint year-round. She still does some representational work but considers it “looser” in style.
As Ittleman found more time to paint, she also found she had less room for the resulting work so she started a website to sell her paintings and also displayed her art at area galleries. She has sold her work at the Brandon Artists Guild and the Artisans’ Gallery in Waitsfield, but the venue from which she has had the most success is Piecasso, a restaurant in Stowe. Six of her paintings were purchased there in the first three months of this year. Ittleman will also take part in a one-day gallery fundraiser for the Green Mountain Hounds at Northern Daughters in Vergennes.
Art is a family affair for the Ittlemans. Frank has been collecting outdoor sculpture for years and the couple runs the Lemon Fair Sculpture Park in Shoreham. It is free to the public and open weekends during the summer. Frank likes to purchase art but Elaine contracts with exhibitors who show their work.
Ittleman doesn’t keep a schedule for painting.
“I do it whenever I feel like it,” she said, “but it’s generally two to three days a week.”
Her preference is for canvases that are 3-feet by 3-feet and she uses 1, 2 and 3-inch brushes. Ittleman grew up near Great South Bay, Long Island and currently has a view of Lake Champlain which may explain why water features prominently in her work.
“Color is my motivating factor,” she said, “but when I paint, I don’t think; I just do it.”