Have you ever dreamt of escaping to tropical islands to paint the tremendous natural beauty? This is exactly what artist Eileen Seitz has done, from distant Bora Bora to the Caribbean shores of Jamaica. She paints island life while soaking up the wonder and culture of each exotic destination. “I love what I do,” Eileen admits. “It creates a lot of joy in a lot of people’s lives through color, line, and theory.”
(Detail, The Mango House, photo courtesy of the artist)
The artist’s dedication to painting started young. At 8 years of age she took her first art class, and by 13, Eileen had won her first award – for an oil painting. Later, she studied at the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York. Then, in what must have been the hand of fate, this native New Yorker discovered the tropics during a sabbatical on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The lush greens, pinks, and reds of island nature, and the multitudinous blues of the sea and sky have served as her inspiration ever since.
(The artist in a tunic she designed. Photo: Zickie Allgrove)
Hawaii, Key West, Eleuthera? Yes, she’s spent time in these locales. On Eleuthera she lived in a place “with no running water, no electricity.” During her five years in Key West, the southernmost isle in the United States, “I never got off the island,” Eileen remarks, “except for 10 times in five years.” About Barbados, she recalls, “It’s to die for! The water there is just delicious.” Fiji, Tahiti, Trinidad, Tobago: she has connected with nature, befriended islanders, and always made art. Watercolors, oils, her talent is clear when you look at one of her works.
(3 Day Sailers, photo courtesy of the artist)
Along the way, Eileen Seitz’s images have won many admirers. Art collectors have brought her in for specific commissions, such as one she painted, 4 feet by 6 feet, in Martinique. In between trips, she often makes her home in Coconut Grove, the oldest and by far the leafiest and most tropical neighborhood in Miami, Florida. Occasionally, you’ll spot a lapis lazuli-feathered peacock in one of her tableaux, inspired by the wild peacocks that roam the quiet back streets of Coconut Grove.
The Island Runaways duo (Zickie and myself, Laura) along with our daughter were lucky enough to catch up with Eileen at the recent South Miami Art Festival.
(Eileen Seitz at the South Miami Art Festival. Photo: Zickie Allgrove)
The festival awarded her with first place in watercolors, a well-deserved prize. When you meet her, it’s clear that this is a woman who lives and breathes art. Her creativity extends to rugs, decorative pillows, and beautiful fabrics and tunics. One thing we love is how she makes sure that her images aren’t simply for the elite. In addition to original watercolors and oils, she also offers limited edition prints, as well as posters and notecards.
Eileen was generous enough to share the stories of a few of her paintings with us. First up is “The Mango House,” one of my personal favorites. From the tin roof to the pink walls to the sailboat in the background, this is my dream of an idyllic house by the sea.
(The Mango House, photo courtesy of the artist)
An art gallery that purchased Eileen’s paintings encouraged her to travel to the island of Tobago. She recalls, “Tobago is luscious green everywhere, and the sea is pristine. The bungalow I rented had roosters crowing out my window that first morning [as they were] eating fallen mangoes.” You can see limited edition prints and art cards of The Mango House on her online shop at her website.
We’re also big fans of “Cool Bananas Bay,” which was a commission. A couple asked Eileen to conjure up a work of art with Bahamian architecture, and more specifically, “two grandmas, two dogs, two bicycles, and boats in the shallow Caribbean waters. One of the boats they wanted with the name Cool Bananas Bay,” remembers Eileen, “so I created it for them.” Although the original is spoken for, Eileen still has prints and art cards of Cool Bananas Bay. In fact, we purchased a poster of Cool Bananas Bay at the Art Festival, and it now hangs in our house as a reminder of Island Runaways to come!
(Cool Bananas Bay, photo courtesy of the artist)
Another image the Island Runaways love is “Dinghies Waiting to Fish,” which turns out to have been another commission. This painting captures a laid-back afternoon in a tropical fishing village, when the boats are sitting idle before it’s time to head out for the catch.
(Dinghies Waiting to Fish, photo courtesy of the artist)
And finally, “Cleaning Dishes” takes us away to the South Pacific, and to a French Polynesian island called “Fakarava.” This precious scene is based upon a chance encounter the artist had with a lady washing her plates and bowls in her back yard, among breadfruit, bananas, and coconut trees.
(Cleaning Dishes, photo courtesy of the artist)
There is something about Eileen Seitz's work that not only shows you a tropical place, it also inserts you there, into the moment. Absorbing the faint breeze as it rustles the pink hibiscus flower. Sniffing at the intoxicating smell of frangi-pani. The sea looks so inviting, with its shades of blues, aquas, and greens, that you want to amble across her painted sand and wade up to your knees in warm ocean water.
I hope you've enjoyed this introduction to the island art of Eileen Seitz. To explore more about the artist and see additional pictures, be sure to visit her website www.eileenseitz.com.
We want to thank Eileen for being so generous with her time and talking to us about her art. Of anyone we've met, she embodies the Island Runaways spirit! And when we're back at headquarters, dreaming of islands we've yet to visit, her images remind us of adventures and experiences just waiting to be uncovered.