Chloe McEldowney


Visual Arts: Painting

By: Gail Obenreder

“Color has always been the source of my intrigue with painting. I mimic the restless and flitting qualities of light.”

A farm girl from a very small Ohio town, Chloe McEldowney was the second oldest of nine children. “Growing up in a large family was beautiful and chaotic and exhausting and wonderful,” and it gave her endless freedom for exploration. But it also gave her an unexpected gift:  None of her siblings cared as much about art as she did, so she adopted drawing as a way to set herself apart in the family and “ultimately fell in love with the artistic process.”

“Descent,” 2019, oil on panel, 40 x 30 x 1 inches

Family support was important in another way. Her mother, unable to pursue her own art career, was McEldowney’s earliest influence. “She taught me how to draw and paint things from observation,” and she helped the young painter to enter her work in competitions and county fairs. McEldowney received her BFA from the University of Dayton (in 2014), and so most of her work has been seen in over 30 shows (four of them solo) throughout the Midwest.

“I am still inspired by the women in my life,” she states, and the recent series of paintings honored by this Fellowship explores “the concepts of feminity, power, vulnerability, a search for self, anxiety, emotionality.”  Not surprisingly, her work is primarily figurative, and though she’s “dabbled in different mediums – printmaking, sculpture, collage – I find myself always coming back to oil paint.”

“Partial Inflate,” 2019, oil on panel, 30 x 30 x 2 inches

McEldowney’s paintings, saturated with color, are created in a process that is “a repeated progression of burying and unearthing this initial glow.” Color rules her artistic practice, and she frequently takes picture of colors or color pairings, keeping in multiple photo folders on her phone those that she plans to incorporate into her palette.

“Nardos (Among Eggshells),” 2018, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 x 1 inches

McEldowney and her husband (and dog and two cats) moved to Wilmington in 2018, and she immediately set up a full-time painting studio in her home. The artist finds it challenging to balance all aspects of the creative profession – paperwork, emails, proposals, art openings – with her desire to “completely sink into the painting” and  “hide away working 10+ hours a day.” But she’s thankful to be part of the Delaware artistic community, where “I’ve found so much support and creative energy,” and plans to use the Division’s award to connect to her new locale and to other artists, moving from primarily self-portraits to painting inspiring women in Wilmington.

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