Checking in with Eliza Evans

What are you working on right now? 

I’m mainly working on my garden a lot, planting fall crops. I’m still doing a few house calls to do portraits. Portraits are the main thing I do, artistically, portraits from life, but I’m sort of taking a break. I was painting on the Downtown Mall, but now I’m doing a bunch of house renovations.

You may have seen a friend rendered in one of Eliza Evans’ charming, matter-of-fact portraits. Her show, “People and Trees,” was on exhibit last April at The Bridge/PAI.

Locally, who would you like to collaborate with? 
I think it’d be cool to get a whole bunch of people together who like to paint—and it doesn’t really matter who because I’m open to collaborate with anybody—but I think it’d be fun to do. Say you get 10 people and everybody paints everybody else, including themselves, and then have a show. Everybody would team up and paint each other at the same time. The final product would be so neat. Maybe my dad [painter John Borden Evans] would be in there, so you’d have 10 portraits of him in so many different styles. I think it’d be cool to get a child in there and different levels—to mix it up.
What’s your first artistic memory? 
My dad is a professional artist and he has been since I was born. He often paints with acrylic, which peels off, and he uses plastic containers for his palette. He’d get me to peel the paint off of them. I remember making little wire people with my grandmother—people out of wire, out of thin wire. She was a jeweler and so she knew how to do stuff with wire. Granny makes quilts and jewelry, she’s very artistic. My aunt, she’s also a painter. My brother’s a painter. Painting just seemed like the natural thing to do. 
Tell us about your day job.
I babysit two days a week, taking care of a 10-month-old. I also grow flowers and paint portraits.
What music are you listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Dolly Parton lately, I have a collection of her greatest hits. I love all the pretty songs: “I Will Always Love You,” “Jolene” and “Touch Your Woman.” I read her autobiography and realized she’s such a feminist but you would never know it from looking at her. She has great stories to tell, and I love listening to her music.
Favorite artist outside your medium? 
Tom Waits. He’s so creative and so funny. He can touch on any human emotion and can experiment as far as he can in any direction, but he never takes himself too seriously. It’s interesting to listen to his earlier recordings. Then, he was like many painters—like Picasso, who started with realism—and then as they go on they get more wild, and push the envelope more. He’s probably written over 500 songs in his life, and they’re all so different. 
If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who and why? 
I’d like to go back in time and have dinner with Laura Ingalls Wilder, and have an old-fashioned American meal. It’d be interesting to see what kind of food they ate in early America, like acorn flour and things like that. It’d also be great to meet some native Virginians and see what they were eating, like wild mushrooms, and how they prepared their meals.
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? 
I would cut down this tree that needs to get cut down outside my house. It’s half-rotten, and it’s kind of scary. I would like to not pay someone to do it, and do it myself. It needs to come down, half of it is dead. It could come down on my car anytime.

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