Elsa Isabella McGrath is a visual artist based in Sydney.
Her painting practice explores the everyday - moments considered banal are seen through a unique lens, transforming space from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and nestled organically within are human forms.
Tell us about yourself and your drawing!
Drawing was absolutely my first passion in life, and as I grew older and began to develop and discover my art practice through painting, drawing gave me the structure and knowledge about how to translate my own style to different mediums.
I think growing up in a very nature-heavy environment solidified my love for charcoal as a drawing tool. I'm really drawn to its looseness and ability for high tonal range.
Why were you drawn to art? How long have you been doing it?
Like most creative people, I can't remember a time when I didn't have a pencil in my hand - it seems like art has been in my life since day one.
I am an introverted person, and art gave me an avenue to feel bold, brave, and expressive. I draw when I'm sad, happy, anxious, tired, lonely - it is absolutely my one true love.
What is your favourite type of art?
Though my tastes sway and change I think my main love has always been a painterly mark with a strong sway towards impressionism.
I also adore graphic novels!
Do you find yourself fascinated with one theme or motif throughout your work?
Definitely the motif most present in my art is the human figure. It forms the base of the majority of my work. The human form is something that is forever explorable, moldable, and open to interpretation - it can be relayed in anatomical detail, broken down into two dimensional shapes, pure line - the options are endless!
The human form is something of extreme beauty in my mind, there are no two bodies alike so each chance to depict that is really exciting!
You studied at the National Art School – what was that like?
It was a great experience! I graduated last year majoring in painting with my main body of work exploring the human form through varying abstraction techniques.
Something I really loved about NAS was the weighted importance placed on life drawing as not only a crucial activity to participate in, but as a foundation for truly seeing what you're drawing, with the idea that you can carry those skills to any other art form.
What are your favourite mediums?
Charcoal and oil paint! Separate, and together!
What do you like about teaching?
I believe strongly that drawing is the foundation of all art. I love being around likeminded people coming together to learn, grow, and explore their own art practice. I've been involved in all facets of life drawing for over a decade as a student, model, and teacher.
My drawing comes from a classical draughtsmanship stance and I believe that learning how to truly see what you are drawing is crucial to grow as an artist - through measurement, perspective, tone, line weighting, and mark making. Only then once those laws have been learnt can you break them down and rebuild to suit your style.
What are you most excited about for the Nauti life drawing classes?
Immediately, the space itself is incredible! Open, airy, light-filled - perfect for life drawing!
I'm really excited about meeting people beginning their journey with drawing and art, as well as those who have established themselves and are wanting to further their skill base, or just relax for a few hours, let go and draw!
Finally – if you were a sea creature, which would you be and why?
A Dumbo Octopus - mostly because they are little, shy, and swallow their food whole, and I'm a notoriously fast eater.