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Erin Lee Gafill

 (born 1963)
Erin Lee Gafill is active/lives in California / Japan.  Erin Gafill is known for atmospheric seascape, landscape and figurative painting, teaching.

Erin Lee Gafill

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born:  September 2, 1963, Big Sur, California

An award-winning writer, painting, and teacher, Erin's roots in the arts run deep.  Her great-great grandmother was Jane Gallatin Powers, who had the first artist's studio in Carmel and who worked side by side with her husband Frank to create the artist's colony, which is today Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Erin's grandparents Lolly and Bill Fassett built Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur, a legendary watering hole for artist, poets, writers, and bohemians.

Erin Gafill has taught art-making, writing, and creativity programs to children and adults up and down California's central coast.  In 2001, Erin was honored with an invitation to be chosen as the first American artist-in-residence of the Hamada International Children's Art Museum, Hamada, Japan.  Works from this trip were displayed at the Monterey Museum of Art.  She is on the creative arts faculty for both Esalen Institute and Rancho La Puerta, Mexico. 


Passion of Painting, Live Worms Gallery, North Beach, San Francisco
California Plein Air, Carmel Bay Company, Carmel
Passion of Painting, Ojai Center for the Arts, Ojai
Carmel Art Festival, Carmel (winner of Jennifer Hill Award

Two Woman Show with Erica Perloff, Capitol Building, Sacramento
Two Woman Show with jd Hansen, Left Coast Galleries, Studio City
Passion of Painting, Artistic Edge, Long Beach
In Repose, Phoenix Shop, Big Sur
Nudes and Flowers, For Love of Home, Brentwood, L.A.
Sacred Spaces, For Love of Home, Brentwood, Los Angeles
Carmel Art Festival, Carmel

The Abstracted Landscape, Studio One, Monterey
Fierce Beauty, Central Coast landscapes, Carmel Bay Company, Carmel

Plein Air Miniatures, BB Harris, Long Beach
Beyond Place, Artistic Edge, Long Beach
Beyond Place, Le Beau Soleil, Pacific Grove
California Impressions, Phoenix Shop at Nepenthe, Big Sur

Where the Heart Lies, Never on Sunday, Monterey

Earth Altars, Galeria Tonantzin, San Juan Bautista
Fractured Light, Full Spectrum Gallery, Pacific Grove
Women in Repose, Pacific Grove Arts Center, Pacific Grove

California Coast Impressions, Sand City City Hall, Sand City
Color & Light of the Central Coast, Alvarado Gallery, Monterey

Letters from my Father, Coast Gallery, Big Sur
Sacred Ground, Phoenix Shop, Big Sur
Calling All Angels, Henry Miller Library, Big Sur


Valentines at Left Coast Galleries, Los Angeles
Nudes, Portico Gallery, Montecito
Art of the Central Coast, Carmel Bay Company, Carmel

Carmel Art Festival, Carmel
Arts Council Group Show, City Hall, Salinas
The Painted Landscape, Maritime Museum, Monterey

Group Show, Artistic Edge, Long Beach
Group Show, Left Coast Galleries, Los Angeles

4 Modern Masters Gallery, Atelier Carmel, Carmel

Summer Show, Mad River Post, San Francisco
Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters, Robert Lewis Gallery, Pacific Grove
Holiday Lights, Lauryn Taylor Fine Arts, Carmel

4 Fine Art Miniature Show, Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey

Fine Art Miniature Show, Studio One, Big Sur
Fifty Artists Christmas Show, Lisa Coscino Gallery, Pacific Grove
Red Light Green Light, Lauryn Taylor Fine Art, Carmel
Monterey Artists Equity Studio Tour Exhibition, (Sunset Center, Carmel, Georis Gallery, Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove Arts Center,  Pacific Grove)
The Naked Truth, Lauryn Taylor Fine Art, Carmel
Waterworks, Lauryn Taylor Fine Art, Carmel

Color & Light of the Central Coast - Four Visions
Galeria Tonantzin, San Juan Bautista

Winter Show, Seaside City Hall, Seaside

Women's Voices, Cultural Council for Monterey County,
Monterey County Courthouse, Salinas

2010-6 Faculty, Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California
2010-08 Presenter, Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico
2007   Spannochia Foundation, La Rosia, Italy,  Artist in Residence
2007-1998 Big Sur Arts Initiative Enrichment Programs
2001    Hamada International Children's Museum of Art, Artist in Residence
Hamada, Shimane Province, Japan


International Children's Art Exhibit, Hamada Children's International Museum of Art, Hamada, Japan

A Room of Her Own, studio recreation of Jane Gallatin Powers, Carmel's First Artist. Old Governor's Mansion Historic Park, Sacramento, CA. (2002); First Murphy House, Carmel, (1998); Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey (1996)

Seven Generations: Arts and crafts from seven generations of one California family.  First Murphy House, Carmel; Big Sur Arts Center, Big Sur

Floating Gardens, the Mobile Project
Mixed media art installation for First Night Monterey, Monterey 
Museum of Art, Hamada International Children's Museum of Art

Book of Dreams, Mixed media art installation at Henry Miller Library, Big Sur, First Night Monterey, Monterey.


Jennifer Hill Award, Carmel Art Festival, Carmel

Champion of the Arts, Arts Council for Monterey County

Arts Council for Monterey County Calendar Cover

Turner Youth Initiative arts education (Big Sur Arts Initiative)
David & Lucile Packard Foundation arts education (Big Sur Arts Initiative)

Submitted by Gisele Villiger


Biography from the Archives of askART

My landscape work is informed by the atmospheric light and dramatic natural forms of California's Central Coast. Early influences include many of the 20th century Monterey Bay painters, early California Impressionists and Tonalists. Working pigment from thin to thick then scratching and scraping away, "unpainting," I begin with a tonal abstraction, usually no more than five shapes, exploring and repeating variations in color, pattern, and texture. My painting process begins with drawing what I see every day - the trees, the hills, the shape of sky and sea, obsessively re-examining the familiar. I work in notebooks first, then tonal sketches, selecting ideas that inspire deeper application to explore in paint on canvas. Finally, bold brushstrokes and a full spectrum palette support an expression with which I hope to convey the sense of awe I feel confronted by the spectacular and powerful natural beauty of this region. This body of work is inspired by scenes of the Central Coast of California - from Tomales Bay in the north to Big Sur in the south. Inspired by the works of my great great grandmother Jane Gallatin Powers, who began as a California plein air painter in the tradition of William Merritt Chase and became a Modernist after her relocation to Paris in the 1920's, these paintings reflect a similar shift toward abstraction, and are literally painted "in her footsteps."

My figurative work is informed by the emotion of color, the sensuality of working in paint on canvas, and the lyricism of the feminine form. Influences include the simple line of Japanese wood-cuts, and the immediacy of Matisse, Picasso, and Leger. Working directly from the model, I begin with large charcoal drawings on newsprint, later selecting an image to explore on canvas. In my paintings, I try to retain the immediate, energetic and gestural response that these drawings capture, while developing color, texture, and pattern, on a larger scale. Over a course of seven years, this body of work emerged from weekly drawing sessions with a rotating group of models: Jenny, Signe, Victoria, Bettina, Mary, and Jane. While I painted and the women posed, we talked of our lives, jobs, children, parents, dreams, and sometimes sorrows. During these sessions, images of a woman in repose surrounded by her favorite things - books, fruit and flowers, a cup of tea - seemed to become more than just a celebration of time away from the demands of work, but a radical act of claiming time for simply being. Through color, pattern, and texture and the sheer delight and physicality of paint at the service of a composition, my work seeks to explore the subject of time, the value of rest, and the need for pleasure.

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About  Erin Lee Gafill

Born:  1963 - Big Sur, California
Known for:  atmospheric seascape, landscape and figurative painting, teaching