Inspired by the rich history of traditional portraiture, Erwin’s paintings are infused with a sense of intimacy, rawness and vulnerability that transport her work into the contemporary realm. Her painting style is influenced by her study of seventeenth century pastel portraiture, using direct observation painting whenever possible and a combination of skill and a deep-seated understanding of the psychological manifestations of the moment.
“Beyond Likeness” her latest body of work, reflects the past few years of Covid isolation, quarantine and the accompanying illness or deaths of people she knew. For Erwin, who is no stranger to mortality, painting again became a pathway. She has said of her practice “the spiritual dimension and psychic nuances of the sitter are as important for me as the architecture of the head and features.”
Her sitters are often family or people she has known over a period of years but also include acquaintances with whom she found some connection no matter how fleeting. Her working process is obsessive and subsides only when a certain “click” is felt. At that one moment, all the parts have fallen into place, and that person is both recognized and present. For those she has lost, this feeling of recognition is one of immense healing.