Contemporary realism portrait painting on copper
Erin Anderson (b. 1987), "Twins," 2017, oil on copper, 12 x 24 in., Beinart Gallery, Brunswick, Victoria, Australia

There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual who enjoys painting on copper.

Over the last several years, Erin Anderson (b. 1987) has used her artistic gifts to explore the fundamental ways humans remain connected to one another while retaining their individuality. Several of these series, created prior to the pandemic, became even more relevant to the artist and her viewers during the ensuing period of isolation and disruption.

For these scenes, Anderson often begins by conducting scientific-like research or observation, unearthing the interconnectedness among primal elements in nature and applying it to innate correlations in her figures.

“In one series, I used imagery from patterns in nature for my compositional inspiration, spending hours looking closely at such things as topographical maps, wind maps, and water currents to see what kinds of patterns and forms they created,” the artist shares. “I like to think the connection we have to one another is similar to the way elements in nature are connected.”

In another series, Anderson chose root systems and tree trunks as her starting point, etching them throughout paintings that speak to women’s separate yet shared experiences. In the diptych “Twins,” illustrated here, she again turned her attention toward female connectivity, this time focusing on subjects she knows personally. “These figures are two of my best childhood friends, who happen to be twins,” she explains. “I wanted to allude to the idea of a shared history.”

“Twins” is also the first work where Anderson experimented with the technique of copper sheet “canvases.” “I like to push myself to find different ways to use copper,” she says. “Previously I used paint or natural patina to create dark values in the background. For ‘Twins,’ I used a torch on the copper panel to bring out a brilliant rainbow of colors. The results are so fun and interesting to work with!”

An Ohio native, Anderson developed her drawing skills and oil painting technique from a young age, copying the Old Masters at the Toledo Museum of Art. In 2009, she earned a B.A. in psychology and entrepreneurship from Ohio’s Miami University. Soon after, she enrolled in an independent art program at Pennsylvania’s Waichulis Studio, and she now lives in Ohio again.

Connect with the artist at

This article was originally published in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine.