From Cecile Oreste at danceDC
Artist and writer Elissa Leibowitz Poma has lived in the Dupont Circle neighborhood for more than 15 years. Since moving to the area, she has had the luxury of walking to work – first to The Washington Post and now to the World Wildlife Fund. By making a small change to her daily routine, she was able to find big artistic inspiration.
Poma started leaving for work earlier and noticed how beautiful the light was at that time of day. She decided to bring her camera along and inspired by the shots she was taking, began to paint these urban landscapes. Now, each walk is an opportunity to find something new.
“Every morning becomes a mission to discover. It almost feels like I’m living in a new neighborhood, a new city,” she said.
Poma enjoys painting neighborhood scenes in a style that is both serious and whimsical. She often uses watercolor as her medium either drawing with ink on top of the painting or adding splashes of watercolor paint to ink drawings. In addition to working off of the photos she takes around the neighborhood, she sometimes paints on site if weather permits.
When asked why she enjoys using watercolor, Poma admits that she wanted to take on a challenge.
“Watercolor has always been intimidating to me. I wanted to take it on. You have to think in a different way when using watercolor and it’s energizing to exercise my brain to think opposite,” she said.
Watercolor is not her only medium; she also uses acrylic paint and pastels in her work.
Meaning in Life’s Small Things
Some of the Dupont landmarks she has previously painted include Tomate Restaurant and Russia House among others. She loves painting ordinary establishments like dry cleaners or convenience stores as well. “The ordinary means so much more to people than a monumental building,” she said. “There is a lot of meaning in the small things in life.”
In addition to creating art in her home studio, Poma has taken painting and drawing classes at The Art League School at Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. She has participated in the Washington Studio School’s open studios. On occasion, she travels north to Pennsylvania to learn from nationally known artists at the Bucks County Art Workshops at Stone Ridge Farm Country Inn.
Although Poma has had success selling her work, most recently at the 17th Street Festival, she is hesitant to pursue art full time. “I want it to be for me. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I dread making art,” she said. “Right now I completely escape into the art. Anything stressful about my day is gone at that moment. It’s like yoga for the brain.”
Poma will be donating all profits from sale of her watercolor paintings between now and Nov. 15 to UNICEF, in support of Borderstan resident Christopher Janson running the New York Marathon. Mention Janson’s name to get a free upgrade to the next largest-size painting. For more information about Poma and her work, visit her website.