Is it possible for a painting to change your life? That may sound a tad extreme, but for me, this one painting did change the trajectory of my art and life. Way back in 2015, my friend Jenny and I signed up for a class at Arrowmont. I like to think of Arrowmont as a grown up art camp, but that is for another post.

So, Jenny and I signed up for our class, drove to Gatlinburg, TN and spent a week immersed in art. While there, I began exploring the idea of women in society and my feelings that were intertwined with being a woman who interacts with society.  While there, I made the small piece below. It is this one little piece (she’s 5”x5”) that started me down a road that I am still on today.

Small square blue-grey painting of woman from a vintage dress pattern. Woman is outlined in white dotted line, and painting is wrapped in turquoise thread to obscure her eyes.
“Don’t Look Now” encaustic & mixed medium

She represented something that I was feeling very deeply – which was confined. I felt confined by the weight of expectations that western culture puts on women. Confined by doing what I thought was the “right” thing by putting myself and my creativity last. I often felt like it was a lose/lose situation to be a woman. If you have children and work, you are a terrible mother…if you have children and stay home, you are just sitting around eating BonBons and watching Oprah all day…and lord help you if you are a woman who chooses not to have children, that’s a whole other ball game. My “girl” helped me work through many of the feelings I had at the time. She gave me confidence that I could still create, and she helped me get in touch with my voice again.

After my initial girl, I was lucky enough to participate in the group show “Responding to Antarctica” that was shown at both the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (2017) and the ​​Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, Birmingham, Alabama (2020). I am not sure that I would have had the confidence to do that, had it not been for that first small piece.

rectangular encaustic painting of image transfer of woman from vintage dress pattern. Her legs have been replaced with cow legs, and she has udders. She is standing in Antartica, and is surrounded by four cows. She is outlined with dotted white lines, and has a gold leaf halo.
Erin Adrian, “Family Portrait”, for the Responding to Antarctica collaborative exhibition

As my work has evolved, my girls are no longer front and center, yet my art still centers around women – in that to me, they are inextricably linked to the feelings and  memories of home, whether those memories are fond, or fraught with tension. 

If you would like to see more of my work, you can follow me on Instagram. Have questions? Just shoot me an email at