Elizabeth R. Whelan is a UK-born artist and portrait painter. She was raised in Canada and completed her education in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since then, the Chesapeake Bay and New England coastlines have been her home. She currently works from a studio on Chappaquiddick Island in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, and her catboat ‘Miaou’ is her transportation of choice.
Whelan is fascinated by the stories of people of all types. She has become known for her ability to bring out the warmth and character of her sitter. Elizabeth does all she can to put her portrait subject at ease and make the experience relaxing and enjoyable.
In 2010 Whelan decided to pivot from a two-decade career in the commercial arts and took a workshop with famed painter Daniel Greene to learn the basics. For the next seven years she painted on her own while she and her partner Bill Benns, a wooden boat builder, worked as caretakers on remote Nashawena Island (in the Elizabeth Islands chain off the coast of Massachusetts).
They were the only two year-round residents. Taking care of the island, a farm, a herd of Highland cattle, and living off the grid deeply influenced her early work and her personal priorities. And a second painting workshop in 2014 with acclaimed artist Burton Silverman helped her set a course for a fulfilling career in fine art.
Whelan is fascinated by the stories of people of all types. A life-long interest in the sciences has led to her painting women in science, as well as other science-related artwork in both abstract and contemporary realist styles. And her love of being on the water comes through in her marine and maritime artwork, with an emphasis on sailing.
Now that she lives in the relative civilization of Edgartown, Elizabeth supports the local art and artisan communities with an interest in preserving heritage and mastery. She believes in using strategic partnerships to promote local businesses and artists. Her philosophy is that ‘we can all succeed’.
Elizabeth Whelan is the creator and sponsor of the Martha’s Vineyard Drawing Prize, a competition started in 2019 to encourage excellence in the art of drawing.
You can also find her fun and informative instructional art videos on her YouTube channel.
Member: Salmagundi Club, Portrait Society of America, American Society of Marine Artists