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Elisabeth Dorrian lives with her family in a small coastal town in Maryland, on the East Coast of the United States. She and her husband work as coastguards there, but Lis' passion is painting. She devotes herself more and more to this art which she expresses in folk style paintings which illustrate charming rural scenes inspired by the contemplation of nature and slow living. Lis tells us about her daily life, her work and her sources of inspiration...

scènettes de village folk américain
© elisabeth dorrian

The work of the artist Elisabeth Dorrian is part of the lineage of painters of American Folk Art, an artistic movement which extended from the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century. Folk painters also called "Primitives", most of the time self-taught, traveled from farm to farm where they painted portraits of villagers at their request, representing them in their daily environment by highlighting their social success and their religious rigor. The Folk style approaches naive art and transcribes simple and colorful rural scenes. Lis Dorrian therefore chose this medium and this style to transmit the art of slow living to the 21st century and transcribe the unconditional beauty of Nature.


Hi Lis, can you introduce yourself quickly ?

" Bonjour! I live in a small town in rural Maryland called Chesapeake Beach with my husband and two children. It’s surrounded by rolling hills on one side and the coastline on the other. We move often as my husband and I are in the Coast Guard (which moves us to a different state every few years). My dad was also in the Coast Guard, so I’ve moved all 41 years of my life. I love getting to experience so many different regions, cultures, and people of our country, but I would really love to live in Europe one day... "

When and why did you decide to become a painter ?

" I’ve always loved to draw. As a child, I spent hours drawing my own house blueprints, paper dolls, and homemade greeting cards (which my mom kindly bought for a quarter). I received a scholarship to attend an art school when I was 18; however, I chose the Coast Guard Academy instead to travel and see more of the world. After having children, I transitioned from active duty to the Coast Guard reserves and slowly began to draw and paint again. Now I do it nearly everyday! "

Where did you learn painting ?

" I took art classes in high school but consider myself a self-taught artist. I prefer gauche and acrylic when painting but I find myself working more and more on procreate because it’s so easy to take on the road. "

What are your artistic influences ?

" I’m inspired by the changing seasons, folk art, watching my children fall in love with the natural world around them. I’ve spent so much of my life adjusting to new places that I find my illustrations often center around a feeling of nostalgia too. "

tableau d'elisabeth dorrian, scène de village
© elisabeth dorrian

Your works are anchored in landscapes and countryside scenes. What do you like most about the countryside ? Which campagne inspired you the most ? 

" I love the countryside because it evokes slow, seasonal living. To me, slow living is about noticing and savoring the little things, like the way my daughter still reaches for my hand when we’re walking, or the first daffodils popping up, or lighting a candle for dinner… It’s about living more connected to nature, which is my happy place, and being more intentional with time. I love Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, and think about the last line often: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I’m not sure if I have a favorite campagne, but I got to spend a week in the Cotswolds in England last year and fell in love! The rolling hills, stone villages, gardens, rambling books… it was perfection! "

What are you other sources of inspiration ?

" So many things! I keep a journal of poems and quotes that I’ve collected over the years. I also love browsing antique stores, vintage quilts, architecture, music, looking at the way people dress and put patterns together, a good book… I’m currently reading “Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult and it’s phenomenal. I’m also very inspired by color. It’s normally the first thing that attracts me to something, whether it be art, clothing, a storefront… I love soft colors like french blue, sea foam green, pale pinks, and creamy yellows. "

Who is your favorite painter? Is there French painter(s) you admire ? 

" How can I pick! As a child, I loved looking at my mother’s calendar by Grandma Moses, a wonderfully talented American folk artist who didn’t start painting in earnest until her seventies. Henri Matisse is another favorite of mine. I love his use of color in works like Landscape at Collioure but also loved his paper cut-outs phase. I also love Vincent Van Gogh. Green Wheat Fields (which is currently hanging in the National Gallery of Art about an hour from my house) may be one of my most favorite paintings! "


What is a typical day in Lis’s country life ? 

" I like to step outside first thing in the morning, no matter the season. We bought a fixer-upper on a piece of property surrounded by trees and wildlife. It’s been so fun to watch the seasons shift. We even had a fox den in our backyard this winter and watched six kits emerge in the spring. Since it’s summer and the kids are out of school, my days are currently a mix of raising children, work emails, contracts, drawing and painting, cooking, and cleaning, getting frogs out of the pool - but we take lots of breaks to swim, go for nature walks, and ride bikes. When I paint, it’s often a family affair as my children will work on their own paintings at the same time, so we all sit at the kitchen table working away. "

Quels sont tes comptes Instagram favoris ?

" I follow lots of home and garden accounts (like my favorite, Mastic Lifestyle!), homesteading accounts, and nature accounts. Mary Oliver's poetry is a constant source of inspiration. I’ve discovered so many amazing artists through Instagram as well like Vanessa Bowman, Monika Forsberg, Taryn Knight, Becca Stadlander, Sara Buscaglia, Lore Pemberton, Azurra Galtolo, Robin Pieterse and so many more! "

What do you recommend to our readers to visit in Maryland ?

" We live an hour or less from Washington D.C., Georgetown, and Annapolis. All of these cities have beautiful architecture, cobble-stone streets, and history. D.C. is known for its great museums, most of which are all free - including my favorite of course, the National Gallery of Art. Maryland is also known for its blue crab, so if you like seafood, you’re in luck."

↘ Instagram @elisabethdorrian


crédit photos © elisabeth dorrian



nos chouchous du moment



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