Artist Elana Cooper is primarily known for her striking, large-scale floral silhouettes, though animals are also a common subject of her work. Cooper paints in bold strokes, the background in one color and the subject in a contrasting color, giving her representational work an abstract quality. Drawing from a journal of flowers, Cooper has created her modern floral silhouettes with ink, watercolor, acrylic and even as 3-D wood cutout sculptures. We are thrilled to have turned four of her original Flower paintings into an exclusive, limited-edition artwork in terrycloth.
Cooper began working in Creativity Explored's studio in 2013 and says, “I never made art before coming here. I didn't know I had the skills for it!” Cooper's popular floral silhouettes have been licensed by Open Editions and commissioned as large-scale public murals by State Bird Provisions. Her iconic flower designs were re-imagined in large-scale for Of Here From There | De Aquí Desde Allá, an interactive digital installation created in partnership with Ana Teresa Fernández in 2020.
Animations by Elana Cooper courtesy of Creativity Explored.
Creativity Explored is a studio-based collective in San Francisco that partners with developmentally disabled artists to celebrate and nurture the creative potential in all of us.
"Creativity Explored serves 130 artists and has facilitated the careers of hundreds of artists. Creativity Explored artists have seen their work exhibited in museums, galleries, and art fairs in over 14 countries and have earned over $2 million from their art.
Their life-changing programs continue to open doors of inclusion to center the personhood and creative vision of people with developmental disabilities. Most importantly, Creativity Explored is a source of community, empowerment and dignity." (Creativity Explored website)
Q&A with Elana Cooper ~ November 2022
What made you “take the plunge” into an art career/creative life?
I like flowers a lot. I first drew animals and now focus on flowers. When I came to C.E. I began making artwork.
What do you love about Creativity Explored?
It’s fun... I like doing flowers... I’m getting my butt up... Flowers, it’s my favorite thing to do... Painting and drawing animals, first.
You're known for your famous black ink flowers and designs. What is the inspiration for your flower paintings and drawings?
It's fast to do... I look at them on my phone, the flowers. I have a flower A-Z list – Flowers from A-Z website... It’s fun. I look at drawings of flowers in my book or on my phone. The shape attracts me.
Do you like to garden or are there any gardens you like to visit in San Francisco?
No garden at home. I like the smell of flowers.
What are your favorite flowers?
All of them.
Do you have a favorite musician or album?
I like disco, Dirty Dancing soundtrack, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande
Click here to find a compilation of Elana's favorites on our Spotify :)
What are you working on now and what’s next?
More flowers. Working on another flower drawing.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I draw large flowers for a change of pace… I call some of the larger pieces “Crying Flower” because it has drips going down.
"Since starting at Creativity Explored in 2013, making art has been a way for me to translate and process the way I see the world. When I first started working at the studio, most artists came in 5 days a week. There was so much lively energy in this space, I loved having that community as a regular part of my days. I grew so much as an artist from having the opportunity to get instruction and practice every day in the studio.
When C.E. studios switched to virtual programming during the pandemic, it was a difficult transition for me to make. In a lot of ways, it felt like I was on a long-term vacation; it became harder for me to focus and find motivation, and I missed being a part of the C.E. community. However, after some time, I began to embrace the community-driven model of our virtual classes with C.E. Teaching Artists. Now, in my own artistic exploration, digital art has become one of my favorite mediums.
As many of you probably know, my signature art pieces are floral silhouettes, made from black ink and watercolor on painting paper. I love creating my silhouettes and have an entire reference document of flowers that I choose from each day. Oftentimes, I make flowers that express a lot of emotion, flowers that are ‘crying’, or flowers that are in love. It can be a way to represent myself and bring objects to life.
Digital art has expanded my ability to bring my craft to life. Through ProCreate and digital animation classes, I’m able to turn my drawings into moving pictures. My digital art process begins similarly to my physical process. I start with a base drawing of whatever I can imagine, then, with the help of Teaching Artists Lacey Johnson and Enrique Quintero, I’m able to turn my drawings into adaptable pieces of digital art and animation.
One of my more recent projects is a digital drawing of an ice cream shop, in honor of my dad. My dad loved ice cream, and since his passing, I have been finding ways to reconnect with his memory. When the piece is finished, I plan to draw my dad into the scene eating his favorite snack.
During one-on-one mentorship sessions with Lacey, I’ve really been able to learn and grow as an artist. It's so rewarding to find a new way to express myself in the digital art world. With hybrid programming, I’m able to work on the same art projects at home or in the studio, which offers me more space for inspiration, instruction, and growth." (Elana Cooper and Creativity Explored)