One to Watch

Erica Lambertson transforms the everyday in her paintings

Erica Lambertson paints what surrounds her, be it her native New Orleans or stories she hears from those close to her. She works with vivid hues, gestural brushstrokes, and a play between light and shadow, adding a sense of dynamism to quotidian subjects: lush landscapes, heavy rains, familiar faces. She also draws inspiration from memories and dreams, transforming them into new realities.

Erica studied at numerous institutions, including the Maryland Institute College of Art, the Center for Art and Culture Aix en Provence, the University of New Orleans, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her works have been exhibited at Gallery Orange in New Orleans and featured in publications including The Jealous Curator and the New York Times.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

My paintings are drawn directly from my day-to-day life in southern Louisiana: lush subtropical landscapes, torrential summer rains, thick humid air and the decay it brings, the swamp. I often work with a vivid and harsh palette that reflects the intensity of my surroundings. Light and gesture fuel narratives that can be dramatic and moody or sometimes pensive and dreamy. Many paintings come from reoccurring dreams or half realized memories. Sometimes stories that have been told to me many times by close friends or family members become paintings.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

If you want to be a painter, you have to make paintings. Continue to paint even at the times when you don’t know what you are doing anymore, don’t feel like it, or no one seems interested. Paint whatever it is that you like painting and find the audience that appreciates what you are doing rather than painting what you imagine others will respond to. Sometimes the thing that bothers people about your work is the most original aspect of it.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

Silence, but I paint with the windows open and listen to whatever is going on outside.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

One of Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings.

Who are your favorite writers?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, and Zora Neale Hurston.

About the Author

Jessica McQueen is Associate Curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service at