Eryn Mccarthy faces the art world

Graduating portraitist describes her past and future as an artist

Eryn Mccarthy has been drawn to faces ever since she was young — it all started with painting friends and family members. 

“There was something about having an emotional connection to them that made them easier to paint,” Mccarthy said. 

The bond she shared with loved ones gave her the confidence to represent them through art. When the results were good, she was encouraged to continue. 

Moreover, Mccarthy was surrounded by a family of artists when she grew up. Everywhere she looked, there was something creative happening.

 “I grew up watching my brother draw and wanting to copy it,” she said. Although her parents and brother don’t work in the arts, they always supported her pursuit in the field. 

She said her parents always told her she had amazing skill. “That’s something you love, that’s something you should pursue,” is what they told her. 

So, she decided to attend university to study her passion. Four years later, she’s about to complete the fine arts program at Queen’s. 

Her education follows in the footsteps of her uncle and former Sheridan College professor Michael Mccarthy. “He was always Uncle Mike to me, not Michael Mccarthy the painter,” she said. 

Her uncle passed away recently as Mccarthy finished the plans for a trip to visit his house in Saint-Victor-la-Coste, France. 

While there, they planned to spend a week painting and talking. Her brother made a similar trip after he graduated high school and told his sister it was an amazing experience. 

Her uncle wasn’t an artistic presence in Mccarthy’s work, but he did tell her to vary her portfolio. “He said there were a lot of faces,” she laughed. 

Perhaps, on some level this resonated with her, though she said she had never even thought about a connection between this and her end-of-year paintings. 

Her final project at Queen’s is a mix of self-portraits and landscapes. Both are new additions to her artistic repertoire. 

“I can’t see a better way to finish off my time at Queen’s than painting my experiences, my four years living here,” she said. 

“I’m going to go around Kingston taking pictures of things that’ve been impactful to my time here 

… they’re all going to be memories with me painted into them,” she said. Mccarthy mentioned the pictures would be of bars she liked and places she’d eaten and lived but wasn’t sure what she’d choose yet. 

And though this project is still in its infancy, her most recent works show how talented Mccarthy is. Three of them were in Mccarthy’s studio as she discussed her artistic endeavors. 

The biggest of these is a painting called ‘the falling.’ 

The rectangular frame shows three figures falling against a blue-grey background. Cubes line the upper left corner of the painting, but they disappear behind the figures. 

While all these subjects are beautifully rendered, a woman in the middle of the painting, wearing a bright yellow outfit with green heeled boots stands out.  

 “I just kind of paint whatever I feel looks good to me,” Mccarthy said, studying the painting. 

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes this painting worth studying, but it’s breathtaking anyways because of the expression on the woman’s face against the odd, geometric bleakness behind her. 

The other two paintings, still on their easels, continue this theme of geometric backgrounds with a strikingly juxtaposed woman in the foreground. 

A quick look on her Instagram will show these pieces and many more, creating a timeline of Mccarthy’s artistic development.

Kind of like her art, Mccarthy is in progress and shows a lot of talent. But, as someone applying to grad school and facing the end of a chapter in her life, that’s farfrom unusual.

She said she would love to work in animation after getting a degree in graphic design if all goes well once she leaves Ontario Hall one last time. 

“I would love to work at a place like Pixar where I could spend all day drawing, making art…it would give me fulfillment.” 


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