Thursday, February 4, 2010

Evelyn McCorristin Peters

Featured Artist
Evelyn McCorristin Peters

Evelyn is one of my "Twitter Pals" and I am so happy I discovered her. She is talented, creative, kind, inspirational, and has a wonderfully interesting life! Keep reading to learn about how circuses, sharks, and trailers have brought her to where she is today.

Tell me a little about yourself:
I am originally from southern New Jersey. Before moving back down to Florida, I lived in Wilmington, DE and quiet honestly would move back there in a heartbeat! I attended the University of Delaware for two years and then ran away and joined the really, I did. I travelled with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey in the U.S. for two years. Started with selling cotton candy but then convinced management that they needed an artist to take care of props and floats. That was my first job as an artist. I worked for their prop shop Hagenbeck Wallace in Sarasota FL for two years then went with a unit of the circus to tour Japan for one year.

I returned to my family up north and worked retail for 15 years mostly with the Disney stores. In 2003 my closest friend of 17 years, who I mostly talked to on the phone, and maybe spent about two weeks in his physical presence over that span of time asked me to marry him. We had met when we were both in the circus, just not on the same shows. My relationship with Philip has been one of the best things in my life.

I am now able to be an artist full time and have just recently focused on presenting my work to the public. I manage our two businesses: a traveling live shark show and a plant nursery. Life is very full and never boring.

When did you recognize your talent as an artist?
I was fortunate to have supportive parents, odd at that time, most adults did not and many still do not look at art as a career. I started drawing very young, around five and my first drawing to hit the refrigerator was of a bowl of fruit on our dining room table. I still have a piece I drew for my Grandfather that he framed, it is hanging right behind my desk.

What is your favorite medium?
I work almost entirely in oils, but I would have to say I love charcoal the best, the dramatic effects you get with charcoal I cannot find anywhere else.

Do you support yourself with your art? (Is it your vocation?)
I am starting to support myself with my work. I was lucky to have had jobs where art was my job, but I did not create what I wanted.

Tell me about your process when starting a new painting?
I think about it a lot and am always afraid to start. I never believe it is going to turn out how I see it, so there is lots of procrastination. Then all of a sudden, I just storm into the studio and start. Depending on what the subject is, I will draw it out on the canvass, very loose. I usually work on a fairly dark ground and I like to use pthalo blue pigment to sketch it in, I like the way it combines with whatever I put down next. I always work wet into wet and get lost if the paint dries before I want it to. I work pretty fast, a result of having worked with the circus where everything had to be done quickly so it was dry for the next show!

Do you have a favorite painting you have done?
My favorite painting is one I did when I was 18. It was the first time I thought up my subject on my own, I did not work from an image, just my mind's eye. It was the first time I really felt like an artist.

Do you have a studio? Tell me about your workspace.
I just moved into a new studio space. My husband converted our old 40-foot travel trailer we used when I was on the road with him and the shark show. He built a deck on the front and put down cork floors inside. It has a full kitchen and all that kind of stuff. It is kind of like a small apartment, I love it!

What do you do on a regular basis that keeps you inspired? What is your main inspiration?
It sounds somewhat corny but my husband is my main inspiration. I have never had someone who so genuinely believes in me and supports what I do. Although sometimes it feels like pressure, I really do owe it to him that I have developed as much as I have. The fact that he has given me this opportunity to do what I want spurs me on to not let myself and him down.

When it all gets to be too much I walk in the woods. I am very lucky to live five miles from a Myakka State Park.

What artist (past or present) most influences your work?
It is a little cliché, but I have to say Georgia O'Keefe has most influenced me. I find her work amazing and the person she was inspiring. She was a person who liked to be alone and thrived on it, I'm very much the same way. The photographer Diane Arbus was and still is a strong influence concerning subject matter. Her attempts to push the boundaries of what was accepted as normal always spoke to me and were a very strong influence on why I joined the circus.

What is your dream goal for the next 5 years--where will you be and what will you be doing?
I have never really had any goals. I know that is a little strange, but I just have not. I have always tried to make the most out of the moment and place I am right now. When I was young and adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said "free." It got a strange reaction and usually nothing was said, which confirmed to me that it was a good answer! Considering the life I've lead so far I think the lack of goals has really given me a great deal of freedom with wonderful results!

What is the most encouraging advice you have received as an artist?
This is your hardest question! I'm not sure I've ever gotten any specific great advice. I think what I have felt at times is a trust from others that I actually was an artist. When others believed in me, it was really the best advice I received.

What is YOUR best advice to offer someone who wants to be an Artist?
Considering I feel like I haven't gotten any specific advice this is a little tough. I think the advice I would give applies to every part of life, not just art.
Do not give up on yourself and ensure you are surrounded with the best people you know. The people that will always be there for you. Life is just too complicated to be with people who do not bring out the best in you. You are what you surround yourself with. Never underestimate the effect you can have on others. We have many acquaintances in life but very few true friends. If you are lucky enough to have them, they will give you all the support you will ever need. Art is a talent, but it is also a skill. The one thing that makes your skills better is practice. Remember that most of what you create will not be seen by anyone. Only a few people will appreciate it. Nevertheless, every single piece is a part of the process. Make steady and consistent the process and wonderful things will happen.

Learn more about Evelyn:



  1. Love Evelyn's colorful life which has obviously spilled over into her art! It's inspiring to see that someone who follows their heart without a lot of excessive plans can become successful!

  2. Isn't she amazing? Thank you for the sweet comment, Loren!