By Morgan Jones | Photos by Herb Nygren Jr.
As a University of Texas at Tyler junior art major, Elizabeth Groth’s aspirations to be a professional artist are a daily encourager through the usual uncertainty the typical college student endures.
“I didn’t plan on coming here it just kind of happened and that’s how my life has been since I have had to be an adult and make adult choices,” Elizabeth says. “All the plans I have had haven’t worked out, but I know I am doing, what I am suppose to be doing.”
However unsure Elizabeth might be of her current educational endeavors, all that melts away when her hand guides a paint brush. Her medium is a white canvas soaked with watered diffused acrylic paint of her latest inspiration, or unspoken words, transformed into a tangible art form.
“I feel like I am not good at speaking or expressing myself with words, and I think that’s why I do a lot of art,” she says. “I can’t express myself as a person with words with how I feel. It’s just like, no one has to know what it means, but I know what it means and that I am expressing myself, and that is enough for me.”
The 20-year-old beginning artist has evolved from the occasional art project, usually induced by a school assignment, to a promising artist showing her true expression with the use of a pitiable tented paint brush and an array of acrylic colors.
“My work kind of has a water color look to it,” she says. “With watered-down colors, they are really forgiving. You can work on a piece, and then if you get tired of it and 20 years later pulled it out, add some water to it and keep working on it.”
Like most artists, Elizabeth has determined her own definition of what art is to her.
“Art is sprinkles on life,” she says. “Life is already great, but it’s made better with art. Just like a cake is great as it is, sprinkles make it better. It’s just the finishing touch that you really need.”
The hopeful artist finds her inspiration for her artwork through myriad resources of her life.
“A lot of times I will be listening to music, reading the Bible or reading really inspiring books, and just the word choices get to me,” she says. “When I don’t know what a word means, I love looking it up and then looking it up in the thesaurus and what the different synonyms are for it.”
Other times, Elizabeth receives stimulation through people that she meets, such as her piece entitled “Can’t Rain on My Parade,” that was inspired by a friend Meg, whom she met at camp.
“This girl really had a lot of bad stuff going on in her life but she still had this smile on her face … life couldn’t bring her down, and her joy was unshakable,” Elizabeth says. “She was very inspiring to me, and I wanted to capture that in that piece.”
Elizabeth has built up her collection to be displayed at local art shows, another step in the right direction on her path to becoming a fully established artist.
Starting at a young age, Elizabeth had a creative soul. However, she did not know how to express her talent. As a child, she would rescue discarded items from her household trash and attempt to create a new purpose for it.
“I guess I have always had creative energies flowing and just never knew how to channel that,” she says. “At times when paint is not accessible, I really like to dress weird and funky because clothes are another form of art. I always find a way to channel this creative energy that is flowing inside of me.”
Born and raised in Tyler, Elizabeth has grown up with her parents and five siblings in a nurturing environment, being homeschooled by her mother.
“I think they are wise in how the sheltered us and I don’t feel like I was kept from the world and they raised us biblically,” Elizabeth says. “While teaching us what’s in the world, they also taught us how we need to view the world. They definitely have been good parents to me.”
At the age of 15, Elizabeth attended her first art class at Tyler Junior College, and her art talent has been cultivated since.
“I don’t think my parents have always understood what it means to me, and I still don’t think that they do, but they have always been supportive of me,” Elizabeth says. “They accept me for who I am, but I don’t think they really understand how it works for me.”
Having been encouraged by a family friend to follow her dream, Elizabeth knew she wanted to pursue an art career as an interior designer. For years, she admired the Savannah College of Art and Design but felt like it was out of her reach.
“I have wanted to go there for years and years,” Elizabeth says. “I heard about them when I was a sophomore in high school, but I thought it was way too prestigious.”
Instead, Elizabeth set her heart on Texas Christian University’s interior design program; however, her financial support was not efficient enough for her to attend. She felt lead in another direction to Dallas Baptist University despite them not having an interior design program.
“I was just like, ‘God, why do you want me to go there?’” Elizabeth says. “They don’t have my design program, but that’s what I felt called to do. Then I found out why he put me there every day. He just used me so much, and it was really great.”
After attending DBU, Elizabeth applied to Savannah College again and was accepted with efficient financial support. Though, it was not what she had hoped for.
“As soon as I got in the city, I just felt this super heavy, overwhelming dark feeling and I was just like I am not supposed to be here,” she says.
Still restless to get out of Tyler, Elizabeth moved to Colorado to stay with a friend.
“I felt like I was kind of running from it there,” she says.
After moving back to Tyler in the middle of the semester, Elizabeth enrolled at Tyler Junior College and finished out her core curriculum there. She then transferred to UT Tyler.
“I definitely feel like I am on the right path now,” Elizabeth says. “I don’t have any regrets. I just feel like God was leading me on a different path.”
Having a perspective change, Elizabeth knows that she no longer wants to practice interior design. She aspires to be an art therapist to help emotionally conflicted people express themselves.
“I just feel like people whose brains have gotten twisted in knots, can use art to untangle that,” Elizabeth says. “That’s what art is to me. I know we aren’t all wired for that to be what helps us. but I think that there are people who God wants to use art to help them. Art pretty much is everything to me.”