Artist Elizabeth Cross. Lia Crowe photography

In Studio with Artist Elizabeth Cross

The colour of passion

  • May. 11, 2021 9:30 a.m.

– Story by Lin Stranberg Photography by Lia Crowe

Elizabeth Cross is inspired by love, passion, art and the environment.

“This may sound cheesy, but I believe love is the ultimate thing in life,” she says.

It’s quickly apparent that for Cross, a free-spirited and prolific painter, serious businesswoman and busy mother of three teenage girls, painting itself is a great love affair and grand passion.

Cross has been painting for 30 years, but she held back on exhibiting her work publicly until 2018. It has taken off like a rocket ever since, and eliminated her reluctance for good. She has produced probably 200 paintings for exhibit and sale, and has shown in both Vancouver and Seattle at Art Vancouver, Lillian Gallery and Lynn Hanson Gallery, among other venues. She has also participated in “live” painting competitions throughout Vancouver. Her work is currently showing in Kitsilano at Stock Home Design and at Art Downtown, Vancouver’s newest outdoor art exhibition.

Her art is mainly abstract: she loves to paint flowers and faces in bold, bright acrylic colours that just explode off the canvases—bright reds, pinks, yellows and greens, plus black and white for special high-contrast pieces. She makes her paintings more textural with gels, glitter, sparkles and, unusually, bits of used fabric from clothing.

“It adds quite a bit of interest and texture and also helps to save the material from going to landfill,” she says.

Her deep feeling for sustainability and the environment is authentic—it’s part of her background as a bio-resource engineer and environmental specialist.

After earning her master’s degree in bio-resource engineering from UBC, she worked as an environmental advisor in Vancouver for corporations like Telus and YVR. Now she runs her own start-up, Moda Circolare, a consulting agency for new and existing brands of sustainable fashion. The way she sees it, it’s a natural offshoot of her environmental advisory.

“The issues are the same: social and environmental issues, governance and so on. The difference is that in the case of Telus, for example, the issue may have been electronic waste, while with fashion it’s about things like fabric waste or solvents.”

As much as she helps people with her environmental expertise, her real ambition is to feel and communicate joy through the paintings she make and sells. Earning money through her paintings keeps the whole thing going.

“I love to paint big pieces and I can go a little crazy with paint,” she says.

She always paints outside, often under a big patio umbrella in the rain: “The cold and rain don’t bother me, but some days my hands feel like they’re freezing.”

She has no set plan when she begins a canvas. She never paints from nature, models or photographs.

“I paint it all from my head,” she says. “I paint whatever I feel that day, in the colours I feel like using. If I’m in a yellow mood, I’ll paint in that colour that day.”

She spends an average of four to eight hours on a painting, frequently returning to them.

“Sometimes they’re hard to leave alone—I’m always trying to improve them.”

She describes herself as a “hopeless, dreamy, ridiculously loving” romantic, and the titles of many of her paintings are overt references to her belief in the appeal of romantic love. “My Lover’s Last Kiss,” “I Am So Attracted to You,” “Falling in Love For the First Time” and “Love Shines Brighter When You Are Near” are typical titles for both the flowers and faces she likes to paint. The colours all speak of passion. But some of the flowers have a darker aspect and some faces, while abstract, have a feeling of sadness about them that may speak to the mysteries and potential heartaches of love as well.

There are a pair of dress shoes on her website (elizabethcross.ca) that she has painted in orange, purple, blue and green that “represent the treadmill of daily life, the running out of time and that life is so very precious.”

But this romantic can be a sentimentalist too. As both a scientist and an artist, she lives in a left brain/right brain duality that is both charismatic and rare.

When she was completing her first degree (in agriculture) at UBC, she took some art courses and picked up the basics of drawing, mixed media, acrylic and oil painting. During that period, she had the pleasure of meeting Zbigniew Kupczynski, a Polish-Canadian abstract expressionist, at a South Granville art store. Kupczynski’s wildly colourful portraits of children and celebrities made a lasting impression of her. As a young student, she could only afford his prints and bought two of them. Kupczynski, in turn, was impressed that a student was buying his work.

“I loved the vibrant colours he used and the expression of his work. I loved how he geometrically broke down the faces,” she said.

She took metalwork courses at Van Tech while studying for her master’s degree at UBC, and again at BCIT more than 10 years later.

“Welding’s very therapeutic. I used to make tables, beds, candleholders and mirrors and sell them at craft fairs,” she says, adding that her teenage daughters learned to weld in high school.

Cross, originally from Ontario, travelled extensively as a child. Her father, a geologist, had a career that took him all over the globe, and he moved his family wherever he went. When Elizabeth was 12, they came back to Canada and settled in Vancouver, where she’s lived ever since.

She recently moved from the modern house she and her husband built in Dunbar into “a big old yellow house” in Kerrisdale. It’s a family home, full of love and artwork. One of her daughters’ larger-than life metal sculptures welcomes you at the door, making it clear that it’s occupied by a very creative family.

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

ArtartistEntertainment

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
School parking problems plague Oak Bay residents

Need exceeds official requirements for parking at St. Michaels school

There were 255 babies born in Victoria in May 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic baby boom makes for a busier Vancouver Island Father’s Day

Victoria’s 255 babies born in May up almost 10 per cent over last year

In January 2019, Grade 5 students from Glenlyon Norfolk School, accompanied by Grade 11 student Anastasia Castro, gave a presentation to Oak Bay council seeking a ban on plastic bags in the district. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay set to survey businesses on single-use plastic products

Survey gathers information ahead of expected legislation on provincial, federal level

Brian Korzenowski rides with Athena, left, and Venus who are safely strapped in and goggled up with the wind in their fur. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to Sooke Road commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

Camper the dog was found Wednesday night by someone walking their own dog along Hollywood Crescent. She had gone missing after a violent attack on June 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Camper the dog found safe after fleeing violent van attack in Victoria

Camper was found on Hollywood Crescent Wednesday night

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko, a Vancouver lawyer, has been suspended from practice for two months after admitting that his firm mismanaged $44,353.19 in client trust funds. (Acumen Law)
High-profile B.C. lawyer suspended over $44K in mismanaged client trust funds

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko admits to failing to supervise his staff and find, report the shortage

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
B.C. casino workers laid off during pandemic launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed in Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo against Great Canadian Gaming

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

Most Read