I create art to connect people to nature.
Hello! For those of you I haven’t met, I’m Elizabeth Mordensky, a contemporary wildlife artist based in Gardiner, Montana.
I have two main passions in life: Art and the Outdoors. Naturally these two loves have come together, driving me to create art that might inspire others to appreciate our wild animals and wild spaces. Through vibrantly textured oil finger paintings, I bring energy and life into my wildlife compositions, encouraging viewers to take a second look. I want the viewer to feel connected to the animals, as if they were standing there before them, as I have done so many times.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Living in Gardiner, MT, inspiration is literally just a few steps out the door. As a Yellowstone guide, avid backpacker, and lover of nature, I bring my life experiences into the studio and recreate them through various mediums and creative processes. I take in the world around me and visually translate that onto the canvas. I strive to capture and share the beauty, wildlife, and unique gifts found in the public lands of the US.
You have two VERY different styles- can you talk about that?
Yes, indeed I do! On the one hand, super detailed landscape acrylic paintings, and on the other, vibrantly textured oil finger paintings of wildlife!
For the longest time I was strictly a landscape painter, creating detailed realistic landscape paintings in acrylic. My art depended on the tiniest brushes, tediously swiping away at the canvas. I still love the results this kind of painting creates, and am currently working on an art book about the Pacific Crest Trail which is almost entirely done in this style.
Then, one day a few years ago I discovered Finger Painting from a video of another artist online and I just thought “Wow! That looks like SO MUCH FUN!” I think I was craving the ability to loosen up in my art and try some bolder brush strokes and textures. I never really enjoyed dealing with oil paints with brushes, but finger painting is a whole different way of handling the paint. I absolutely fell in love with the technique and think it brings great vibrancy and life to my wildlife paintings. I use water soluble oil paints, so the clean up is not bad either.
I call myself a wildlife artist, because that is where I am really focusing right now, but I still create acrylic landscapes both for the PCT book and as commissions.
Why do you sign your paintings “Etch”?
In 2013 I hiked from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. As a thru-hiker, you get given a trail name, based on something ridiculous you have done or something you get known for along the trail. I was lucky that I didn’t have any major goofs. Instead it was noticed that I was constantly drawing in the trail journals, leaving little pictures for the thru hikers behind me. I was given the name EtchASketch, and that followed me into the real world as Etch. I began seriously investing in my art career after hiking the AT, and felt very connected to the inspiration I experienced on trail and the name I received.
I have now hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail as well, so I don't think the name is going anywhere!
What is your art education background?
I have always loved art, since I was a little kid. I can remember a time when I was 4 or 5 years old when I asked my dad to help me draw a bird. He drew two arched lines, indicating wings in flight-I was not at all satisfied.
I took art throughout high school and took a few entry courses in college, but mostly I have just learned on my own, by constantly drawing, painting, and trying new things.