We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin Long and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erin, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Three habits help me succeed in my art career: Committing to the work itself every single day, utilizing art as a way to “reveal me to me,” and perhaps most importantly, keeping the faith.
So many artists will tell you that (contrary to popular belief) there isn’t a golden, magical moment of inspiration that inspires a new painting–rather it’s a daily practice in making the work. It is called art”work” for a reason as most of the creative labors (joyous as they are) are wholly not great in the end. But the commitment to the work, the discipline of it, is what creates the magic. Not all pieces are great. But the work itself, of creating something that had yet to exist, is the greatest part.
I make it a conscious habit to see my art as a way to “reveal me to me.” So much lies in the subconscious mind and comes out in my work. Some is not-so-pretty. Some is downright trash-can-worthy. But a wonderful painting or a whole human is made up of ALL of these parts of us. Some days I am light and airy, and that shows in the work. Some days my frustration in the work reveals to me a frustration inside. It’s like a mirror–a perfect reflection of where I am in this big world. And this is important to cultivate as a habit in my work as it tends to translate authentically to my collectors. Perhaps they are also seeing the work as a mirror…?
Faith–the final and perhaps most important habit I have adopted over the years. Without it, I would be wandering aimlessly without a rudder. I do not believe in just one thing with just one name, but rather I believe that I have been guided to this career either from a higher place or a place deep within me. Faith is a habit–we can choose to have it and to lean on it when things seem unstable or uncertain. With just a little bit of faith in my daily practice of making art, I know I am setting myself up well to create something that matters–either to me or for someone who needs it in their life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is wholly abstract. I focus on color and shape, expressing feelings as closely as I can. My favorite mediums are acrylic paint, charcoal, and oil pastel. I often work with knives, I often hold my brushes like a violin bow as I have played the instrument for most of my life.
I feel most proud that I can use this wonderful tool to express myself. I have gotten to where I am today by working every day–treating it as a gift and a job at the same time. I am deeply blessed and honored that my collectors continue to support my work. I find challenges in this work as well as opportunities and pure joy.
I’ve learned many lessons, the greatest being to pay attention to my mistakes. I have fully accepted that it’s okay to have a learning curve. I just keep going down the road taking the bends and curves as they come. I have no desire to stay in one place with my work but rather to expand and change and grow, all the days of my life.
The thing I want the world to know most of all is that if you feel deeply inside somewhere (even if it is as faint as a whisper) that there is something you want to do, something you’d do for free if money were no concern, that THAT may be your path. I heard a whisper first, then a yell… so I followed it and now can say with no hesitation, I have everything I will ever need. (And no, I don’t mean things, I don’t mean money. I mean a life I value and adore.)
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First, I would take you to Elm Street Bakery in East Aurora, NY for avocado toast and coffee. (And of course, something sweet!) Then, we would go into Buffalo for a morning at The Albright Knox Art Gallery. We’d also hit the Burchfield Penney. Lunch would be burgers & milkshakes at Mr. Sizzles. We’d wander down Allen Street visiting the Allen Street Dress Shop. Then we would go to two more galleries—the first, Buffalo Art Movement (BAM!). The second, Buffalo Arts Studio in the Tri-Main Building. Oh, and of course Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, so make that three. We’d have a cocktail at The Merry Shelley on Hertel. We’d end with dinner at The Place on Lexington Avenue. And a Tom & Jerry with the to-go mug as a souvenir.
Well, unless it’s Sunday. Then we’d just order wings from The Bar Bill and watch the Bills game. 🙂
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I need to thank Julian Schnabel for creating his biographical drama film about artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. This film made me say, without a shadow of a doubt, “I will paint one day.”
I also need to thank my husband, Aaron. My kids, Molly & Jack. The folks at Buffalo Art Movement (BAM!) in Buffalo, NY. And finally, my collectors who have so graciously believed in me and my work.
Buffalo Art Movement, Buffalo, New York.