Without doubt, the Sparano + Mooney Architecture team are talented, driven, and creative. We work hard to deliver thoughtful design solutions to our clients, not to mention our commitment to an exceptional client experience and harnessing first-rate business acumen. Of course, our Salt Lake City and Los Angeles architects are highly skilled at turning numerous iterations of ideas and sketches into renders and plans. Putting pen, pencil and brush to paper is a key aspect of our practice and drawing skills are essential to the profession. But did you know that our team member Camille Erickson, head of Accounting and Human Resources, also produces beautiful paintings and is an enormously talented artist in her own right? We are astounded by Camille’s talent, and her ability to use both her left and right brain with equal flourish. We interviewed her to discover more about her work.
When did you first begin to draw/sketch and paint?
My mom is an artist and teacher and she had me drawing and painting as soon as I could hold a brush or pen in my hand. My first drawing that she kept is from under the age of 1. Although, I became very interested in art when I was in high school. I took classes in jewelry, drawing and painting and that is where I realized this was something I had a passion for. I then studied painting and drawing for my undergraduate degree, followed a number of years later by a master’s degree in accounting.
How did you learn to draw/sketch/paint?
I learned to draw and paint by watching my mom, taking classes, watching the great Bob Ross, and watching other family members of mine who are jewelers, cartoonists, and painters.
Did anyone in particular teach or inspire you to design your creations?
Besides the constant exposure to my mom, family members and the art galleries my mom took me to as a child, some great 20th century painters, Wayne Thiebaud, Chuck Close, and Edward Hopper, inspire me. I especially like Chuck Close’s prints and that got me interested in Japanese wood block printing (ukiyo-e) and etching. I learned this printing technique from a master Japanese printer at the Center for Book Arts in New York.
Do you still love painting as much as when you first began?
I do love painting even more than I did when I first began. I was just learning the mechanics of painting, how to mix color, how to prepare a canvas, and how to draw with paint. Now, when I see other people’s work I have more of an appreciation and love for what other artists create. I was at the Getty Museum with our office a few weeks ago and I saw these amazing paintings by Peter Rubens. I was particularly inspired by the under-painting/wash and detail in which he had painted the figures in a deep brown paint – they reminded me of a drawing. I see the world differently through the eyes of an artist and I love that art can evoke emotions.
Camille Erickson, "Salt Box"
Why do you paint? What inspires you?
I am inspired to paint; make jewelry, ceramics, prints; or draw a simple sketch because I see something that I want to make or remember. I would say one of my biggest inspirations is light and how light interacts with the space around us. In school, I was trained in classical figure painting, drawing, and sculpting, although lately I am not focused on the figure as much.
How does painting influence your professional work?
Working in an architecture firm like Sparano + Mooney Architecture is truly the best of both worlds. Kind, interesting, artistic and creative people surround me all day, while I am doing accounting, and this reminds me of the importance of staying creative. It is inspirational to be surrounded by the building models and the creative process that these “ideas” originate from and that is truly amazing.
Have you ever exhibited your artwork?
Yes, I have exhibited my work over the years. In high school I was in a student show at the University of Utah’s Museum of Fine Art. I have also shown my work in Helper, Utah; The Arts Student’s League, New York; and the Utah Women’s Artist Exhibition, Utah.
What is your favorite subject matter?
That’s pretty tough to narrow it down to a single subject matter. By medium I could select it: for painting and drawing it is the human figure, with metalsmithing and sculpture I am drawn to functional objects, and with printmaking it is still life objects.
What is your favorite medium?
I paint in oil; however, these days my favorite medium is clay. I just started working with clay this past summer.
Camille Erickson, "ukiyo-e woodblock print"
Do you like talking about your artwork and talent or do you prefer to keep it private?
For many years, I didn’t like talking about it, and I think that has changed, as it has become a more direct part of my life. I am producing work every week and that makes me more interested in discussing it. For me, sharing it is the best way to get objective feedback and helps me to continue working.
When is your favorite time to draw/sketch/paint, and do you have a favorite place to draw?
My favorite place to work is any place that I can remove all other distractions and really focus. Sometimes, that is at home, other times my studio, or just sitting somewhere. I draw at home every night. Since my son entered the 1st grade he picks an image for me to draw on his lunch bag. We started this tradition almost three years ago. This has been one of the best ways for me to stay active with drawing. My high school art teacher Marjorie McClure required us to draw daily in a sketchbook. I remember, with such dread, having to produce those sketches and trying to find a subject matter to draw. I still have all of those sketchbooks and it is great to have them to look back to.
Camille Erickson, "Master Chief Lunch Bag"
How do you title your work?
I generally don’t title my work. Mostly because it is not something I feel I am particularly good at. I tend to use titles, like “figure drawing 1” or “painting of a pear.” I know that isn’t very creative and my husband, who is a writer, is always encouraging me to explore the titles a bit more. I agree with him that a good title can actually make a piece of art better.
Would you like to add any closing thoughts?
Thank you Mom for dragging me to the museums and libraries as a kid and exposing me to art. I’ll never forget going to my first nude figure drawing class with my mom when I was barely 16 years old. Or how she would have us look across a rainy day landscape and pick out the colors and brush strokes like it was a painting!
We are so grateful to count Camille as a member of the SMA team and can't wait to see what she creates next...