Artist: Elise Pittelman

Capturing nostalgic moments and travel experiences, painter Elise Pittelman presents a portfolio rich with stories. We talked with her about her art and inspiration.


"All eyes on Sibyl" painting by Elise Pittelman. See her artist profile at

“All eyes on Sibyl” painting by Elise Pittelman


ABI:  You paint from photographs, and have found that your work resonates with viewers. Why is this?

EP:  I’m not sure when the idea to paint from old family photos first occurred to me, but I never anticipated the depth of experience it would provide for me, and I never anticipated the reception I would receive from viewers.


"Daddy's Keepin' the Beat" by Elise Pittelman. See her artist profile at

“Daddy’s Keepin’ the Beat” by Elise Pittelman


Through the years so many people have commented that they saw their own families when they looked at my “Family Album” paintings. I began to ponder this, and realized that everybody has photos of their family like the ones I used as inspiration. As personal as this series is, it seems to bridge the gap into the universality and common ground among people.

I think the series also elicits a very basic and fundamental comfort in people when they see family represented in this simple and straightforward way.


"The Richland Brothers" by Elise Pittelman. See her artist profile at

“The Richland Brothers” by Elise Pittelman


ABI:  Your Jamaican series captures the culture of that island. How did this collection come about?  

EP:  Ever since I first started visiting Jamaica about 30 years ago, I have been fascinated by the culture, the exuberant color, and the people. I have spent countless hours on my vacations drawing and painting the foliage, the flowers, the ocean, the silhouettes of the palm trees at sunset, and the people.


"Step Aside" by Elise Pittelman. See her artist profile at

“Step Aside” by Elise Pittelman


The first time I tasted jerk chicken all of my senses perked up. While the taste of the chicken was delicious, it was superseded by the visual delight when I looked at the whole way it was presented. It was Jamaican folk art at its best; the colors of the rigs; the crazy nicknames of the vendors; the delightful misspelled signage.


"At The Market" by Elise Pittelman. See her artist profile at

“At The Market” by Elise Pittelman


The resourcefulness and creativity of each and every one of the Jamaicans that I met moved me to want to capture it all on canvas as best I could. Over the years as I continued to make new Jamaican friends, I expanded my subject matter to all things Jamaican; hence the title of this series, Images of Jamaica.


"Nice & Spicey" by Elise Pittelman. See her artist profile at

“Nice & Spicey” by Elise Pittelman


ABI:  What do you have planned for the future?

EP:  More images of Jamaica; particularly “Women of Jamaica.” Jamaican women are so strong and nurturing, and despite financial hardships, they manage to raise beautiful children while working hard to support the family. They inspire me, and I love to paint people who inspire me.


"Jube" by Elise Pittelman. See her artist profile at

“Jube” by Elise Pittelman


And, I am currently working on a series called “The Bar Mitzvah.” I have been gathering photos from the Bar Mitzvah albums of my friends and family over the last few years. While the Bar Mitzvah is considered a very important event in a Jewish boy’s life, from my perspective as a secular Jew, it was all about the party; the dresses, the food, the celebration. I have zeroed in on the time period of the 50’s and the 60’s, which was the time when I attended many Bar Mitzvahs. I call this body of work iconic and ironic.



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