Q&A: Local artist Joyce Elias explores the colorful side of Evanston winter


Source: Joyce Elias

Artist Joyce Elias posted this photo on Feb. 3 describing the weather’s color as “pale green gray.”

Madeline Burg, Reporter


Local artist Joyce Elias has a new take on the winter blues. Usually working with collage and construction pieces, Elias decided this year she’d turn her disdain for the Evanston winter into a meditation on color. Each day this year Elias will Instagram a picture of the Evanston sky and subsequently tweet it from the handle @ArtistsWeather, with a short description or hashtag of the sky’s color. The Daily caught up with Elias to learn more about the artist and her foray into social media.

On how her life as an artist began:

I’ve always been an artist, since I was a little kid. My mom’s an artist and my brother is also an artist, so it just runs in the family I guess … I didn’t consciously think about it, like ‘Oh, I’m going to be an artist.’ I’d studied it throughout school, I went to art school, art college … I ended up graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute. And then I came back to Chicago, and I went to the Art Institute of Chicago, and I got a teaching credential.”

On her aesthetic and her influences:

Obviously I’m very into color; I always have been. I’ve worked as a clothing designer and a jewelry designer and a set designer and all those things. I’ve always incorporated a lot of color into that. The works that I do, my own artwork, is a lot of collage pieces these days, and construction pieces, and they’re also rich with color.

On the inception of the @ArtistsWeather Twitter:

So I’m not a fan of winter, at all. My brother lives in Los Angeles, he’s a painter out there, and so for years I’d call him in the winter and be like ‘Ugh, guess what color it is today.’ And it was always some color of gray, so we just kind of goofed around with that, thinking ‘How else could we describe this gray?’ And then this year I said I really just need to get out during the winter, and I’m just gonna start taking pictures of the day. So that’s how it started, and then I just put a few (photos) up on Facebook, and then I went on Twitter, and now I’m on Instagram and I’m getting a lot of interest, it’s really been a lot of fun. It’s inspiring me to do my other artwork. … I’m gonna keep doing them all year… and each month I’m gonna do at least one art piece based on the colors.

On how social media can benefit the artist of today:

I think more and more people are (using social media to display their art), and I’m relatively new to it. I’m very surprised, pleasantly surprised, by how many people actually pay attention to what I’ve been putting out there. So I think it’s a really great way to get work out there. I’d like to have some more shows, get into some galleries and things like that, and this could be a good way to do it. Artists are generally working in their own little worlds, so it’s a good way to get (their work) out to other people.

On coming up with the names of colors to describe Evanston’s winter sky:

I started looking at color charts online. I’ve used classical oil color charts and some more contemporary acrylic charts, and I kind of mix it up. And some days I just make it up, because I just think that that’s what it looks like. It’s not a strict science, I kind of go with what I think it really feels and looks like.

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