Elanor Ruth Colburn (1866-1939)

American

A painter of impeccable impressionist style, Elanor Colburn has substantial credentials as an artist, art teacher and color theorist. Born in Dayton, Ohio, she studied under William Merit Chase and Frank Duveneck at the Art Institute of Chicago. Colburn would later teach at this same Institute. She won her first award in 1908 when her work was purchased for permanent exhibition with the Chicago Municipal Art League.

Elanor was twice married, the last time to Dr. Joseph E. Colburn, a Chicago eye doctor who conducted experiments in color theory and values. Having earlier visited and painted in Laguna Beach, Colburn and her artist daughter Ruth Peabody moved to Laguna Beach and opened a studio together in 1924, where they exhibited and taught art. She would expand on her ex-husband’s experiments, coming up with her own principle of “Dynamic Symmetry”, using juxtaposition of geometric shapes within open space to draw interest to her subjects.

Colburn primarily painted human subjects and portraits, often mother-child combinations and people at leisure. Technically, she incorporated heavy textures and striking color combinations to achieve varied effects in her impressionist compositions.

Colburn was a member of the Laguna Beach Art Association, where she served as Director from 1926 to 1929, and of the San Diego Art Guild, who hold several of her paintings. The Laguna Beach Museum of Art held a retrospective exhibit on the artist in 1984.

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