This article originally appeared in Create! magazine issue #39. Subscribe to get first access and support indie publishing today!

In the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary art, Erika Lee Sears emerges as a vibrant force, breathing life into her canvases through a unique blend of colors, reflections, and everyday moments. Sears’ journey as a self-taught oil painter is a testament to the transformative power of following one’s creative vision, no matter how challenging it may feel. From her playful and introspective bathtub and shower paintings to her daily commitment to producing art for more than seven years, Sears invites us into a world where self-care, introspection, and vibrant colors converge.

Diving into her bathtub and shower series, Sears unveils a deeply personal and relatable narrative. Balancing the demands of parenthood and the need for self-indulgence, she captures those fleeting moments of solitude and reflection that are often found in the bathroom—a sanctuary of personal time. Amidst fast-food indulgences and sips of wine, Sears’ canvases become mirrors of our own moments of quiet joy and respite. For this issue, Erika shares all about her work inspired by water and self-care.

Visit Erika Lee Sears' website

Can you tell us more about your bathtub and shower paintings featuring fast food and wine? What inspired you to combine these elements in your artwork?

I originally started creating this body of work because I have two small children, and the only time I had any ounce of privacy was in the bathroom. The few times a week I could really devote to self-care and self-reflection included bubbles, snacks and indulgence. Especially during COVID, when there [was] no sense of privacy at all because everyone [was] at home... having self-care time became even more meaningful and reflective. A luxurious bath is always a good time to enjoy a delicious treat and take time out for yourself.

Transitioning from a corporate job to a full-time, self-taught oil painter is challenging. What were some of the hardest aspects of this transition?

A lot of it is hard because a corporate job usually means having a 401k and a steady paycheck. Once you quit your corporate job, realizing that when you become self-employed it’s just you and you are responsible for figuring out how to provide and support yourself. It’s also challenging to realize that you have to be growing, making artwork and understanding what avenues are the best ways to celebrate what you are creating and making. Plus, doing this process over and over again.

Creating an original piece of art every single day for more than seven years is a remarkable commitment. How do you manage to stay inspired and motivated throughout this ongoing project? Moreover, how do you motivate yourself when your energy is low?

Artists and creatives are the documenters of time. Whatever work you create has a chance to truly live in this world and be acknowledged and enjoyed. Enjoyment is subjective due to the feelings and the artist’s intentions. Artwork can outlast us and convey the emotions or magic the artist infused into it. I do go through times when I feel uninspired, but there are so many things right in front of your face that you could be inspired by. I often make lots of lists, thoughts or watch “The Real Housewives”—sometimes all it takes is to catch an idea. Making a lot of art lets you take chances and create as much art as you want, whether it’s good, bad or even silly.

How has becoming a parent influenced your decision to embark on this creative journey?

Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs around, but it makes me contemplate time—how fleeting it is and where we are in it. It encourages me to paint even more and think about artwork even more.

How do you choose your subjects? What draws you to an object, still life or scene?

I am very much drawn to color, the power of light and things that make me smile or laugh. Not necessarily in this order.

What are you most fascinated with when it comes to your art practice in this chapter of your life?

I think the biggest thing I am considering is what inspires me, not what inspires everyone else. Truly listening to your creative magic is challenging in a noisy world. This chapter is filled with many ideas on the horizon and releasing them.