From realistic to abstract

Local student opens gallery of her art

Erin Machado sketches out some birds in practice for her next piece.
One of Erin Machado’s favorite subjects is birds, which she frequently paints and folds into origami.
Some coffee shop visitors appreciate Erin Machado’s gallery.

Art has always been about exploration and enjoyment for Milton High School senior and artist Erin Machado.

“When I’m working on a piece, a lot of people would walk by and ask, ‘What does this mean?’” Machado said. “But I’m just playing. That’s always my answer.”

Through February, Machado had dozens of her pieces displayed in a personal gallery at the Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House in Roswell. This is the first time that Machado has had an entire gallery of just her art. Previously, she has had one or two pieces in some exhibits, including at the Roswell Visual Arts Center, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival and the University of North Georgia.

Machado said her passion for art started as far back as elementary school and only expanded when she took classes at the Roswell Visual Arts Center with Kip Rogers and at high school.

“When I first came into high school, I was mainly interested in realism and depicting the subjects realistically,” Machado said. “But then through a lot of my classes and the Governor’s Honors Program I started to explore the more abstract side.”

For two years in a row, Machado went to GHP, a state-wide program that allowed her to take four weeks of intensive four-week art workshops with other top students, where she first encountered abstract art.

“This kind of art is really interesting in a different way,” Machado said. “You don’t get to explore it very often outside of a class. You really need someone to sit down with you and teach you abstract art, because it’s really hard to find your way on your own.”

Machado said that she started exploring in earnest and cultivating a love for abstract art after her experiences at GHP.

While she was there, an instructor pushed her and the other students to draw a still life of an orchid in a pot and then start abstracting it by adding some lines or erasing others. They also were encouraged to add different colors, and, in a touch of personal flair, Machado even glued a penny to the piece.

“I had never worked with that side of abstract art before,” Machado said. “We had a whole class of students that were doing the same still life, and they all turned out completely different.”

The penny for Machado became both a way to remember her time at GHP and a theme in her later works, many of which incorporate the coin in some way.

Machado works mainly in acrylics, but has branched off to photography and dry media like colored pencil as well. Many of her works focus on animals, especially birds.

“The artwork can be just about playing; it doesn’t always have to be about something serious. It can just be about exploring and enjoying the moment,” Machado said.

Machado has a whole series about playing, some of which were displayed in multiple galleries.

“I always thought that to be a ‘good’ artist you have to draw photorealistic. If you can draw a perfect looking flower that looks like a photograph, then you’re a good artist. But that’s not always what it means,” Machado said. “Sometimes it’s more about making something that people just enjoy, even if they might not understand it.”

Although she does not plan to go to college to study art by itself, Machado said that she hopes to continue to incorporate art in her chosen field, like architecture, and continue to do art on the side. ■


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