El Baker is an Austin-based artist known for her adventurous experimentation with unexpected materials and colors. Her work consists of everything from mixed-media Texas landscapes to colorful abstract desert plants. Many of El’s pieces are inspired by road trips across Texas, from the mountains of Big Bend National Park to the rolling landscapes of the Hill Country.
1. What gets your motor running?
Time. If I have a few minutes of time, the only thing I want to be doing is paint. It’s meditative and calming. If I have time, I lose track of it when painting.
2. Tell us about a work of art you feel is misunderstood or underappreciated.
I don’t know if it’s misunderstood or underappreciated, but one of my favorite works is Matamoe by Paul Gauguin. It’s so dreamy and wild, and I like that it’s kind of hard to tell where the land ends and the sky begins. When I’m looking for inspiration, I often pull it up and look at it.
3. You’re very heavily influenced by the various landscapes of Texas. What is it about the Lone Star State that inspires you?
The bigness, the wide-open spaces, and how so much of it feels untouched.
4. You’ve moved around in Texas quite a bit. What made you finally decide to make your home in Austin?
I was born in Houston, and my family moved around the US a bit. I eventually landed back in Austin to go to UT, and I felt like I was home. I lived in a co-op in West Campus, and my roommates and I would get $5 Mex Marts at Trudy’s and then bike to Barton Springs for Free Swim. It’s hard to find another city like Austin.
5. What makes a good landscape painting?
I like a sense of movement, like clouds blowing or grasses swaying. It’s also fun when a painting shows you a familiar landscape in a way you wouldn’t have imagined, whether it’s a new perspective or different colors.
6. You’ve said that your “style is always changing.” What elements of your work do you feel will always remain consistent?
Yes, I feel like it’s always changing, yet a lot of my work has some similar thread tying it all together. I like to play with collages, mid-century modern shapes, or loose landscapes, but the thing that’s consistent is color. I like to use color. I’ve been doing a lot of cloud painting lately, and even my clouds have lots of color.