It happens every single time I look at Eric Zener's paintings. With just one glance, I am no longer working in my office. I am happily swimming in a pool on the most glorious summer day. I am a child playing and jumping in the water, laughing and having fun in the sun. I feel free, happy and relaxed.
Eric Zener is an American photorealist artist who is currently living in Mill Valley, California and painting at his studio in Sausalito. He is self-taught and has been painting for 20+ years. I was very lucky to be able to ask him a few questions.
Water is present in almost all of your paintings. Why do you think that you have this fascination for water?
Eric Zener: From our conception, culture, religious sacraments, cleansing, joy and our mesmerizing gaze at the horizon, we are connected to it. Water provides both an escape and a return. A surrendering. A summer pool, a beckoning sea, a long hot shower all provide an aqueous reset button.
Nature moves much slower than us. It is much bigger than us. If we recognize that perspective it is a gift that can humble us and relieve us of the daily trappings of modern life. As an artist I am drawn to imagery that reﬂects nuances that often go unnoticed. A blade of light across a morning cafe table. A single cloud, seemingly lost, looking for it’s clan. Water affords us a place to return to that endless summer left behind. A place, if only for a moment, to comfort us with memories of pool parties, suntan lotion and long summers.
Your paintings bring back happy memories of childhood, summer vacations, carefree moments. Was it a conscious decision to follow this path?
Eric Zener: I have found that most art depicts the ﬁgure in neutral, somber or on a thin line of ambiguity between the two. Rarely have I’ve seen a big happy smile; and if so, it usually borders on the greeting card side of things. It was an enjoyable challenge to capture this state of happiness in paint, and to take on the stigma of prosaic imagery. Yes, art in and of itself carries a history of torment (largely on the side of the artist), and reﬂective in the torment the subjects often reveals the feelings of the painter. I am pretty happy though...and I hope that it is reﬂected here.
Last week, I posted my summer to-do list. What is on yours?
Basically spend as much time with my kids as possible, from the mundane of grocery shopping to the exasperating experience of adding two new kittens to our household. We also have plans to travel - I love exploring new places and new experiences with my kids…they teach me through their learning.
Can he recommend a book, a movie or an artist that inspired him lately?
“Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss
♥ To learn more about Eric, listen to his lecture at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco on YouTube. Very interesting!
Photo credit for the last photo