Elinor Rowlands FRSA
Art Portfolio

Painted Conversations

Painted Conversations Durational Performance Art

Intimate performance through live art durational art at the Yard Theatre, 2019 

Please note - you may have to pause the video to read the text as the text scrolls so incredibly fast! 

* This performance shows me a few days after recovering from glandular fever when I had been in bed for 6 weeks with very swollen lymph nodes.

Portrait from a painted Conversation (2019)


An audience member sits down opposite me. 

I begin to paint them. The audience member can decide whether they want to verbally communicate, or communicate through my making of the painting, or through other ways of being. 

Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing are what drives me to fatigue and making art from my bed. I use film in so much of my performance as a means of access to make art. Yet, another mode of my art-making is painting. 

The paint keeps on showing and sharing, unfolding and revealing long after the conversation has stopped, the act of it drying, the wet dripping, there is so much more to unfold and unpack when it is dry. 

Background of the performance 

During an incredibly difficult time for me, verbal conversation was too overwhelming, I had to leave employment and I was rendered silent after the summer of 2017.

My fatigue and burn out expelled the possibility of mainstream Atypical dialogue. Yet, I was able to paint, art-materials become my voice, my way of being and I began to converse with people through painting them. 

Unlike with the durational live art pieces, these portraits were painted over the internet, where people I usually communicated with verbally in person, I communicated via typing and painting of their portrait and these portraits remained a part of them, open ended, long after they'd been painted. 

Some people wanted to talk with me, about my choices for painting them in certain colours or styles, or ways, and their way of being began to be communicated together, their portraits continue to be talked about, they continue to bring them up in conversation (verbally) and it is apparent the act of painting them, and seeing their portrait and the experience of being painted, though not physically together, was deeply connecting, deeply affective and for many life-affirming, life-changing and life-enhancing. 

I also noticed that they would come to me almost as if I were a Shaman, taking them on a transformative journey into the painting. And even today, the portraits feel very symbolic, very rich, filled with a meaning we so often lose in verbal communication. 

As an autistic artist, verbal communication renders me very stressed, so it is through painting that I feel so much safer, it is a more manageable and hopeful way of being, where the experience is shared, feels safe and attending to. 

Other painted conversations with people I painted while rendered verbally silent (2017).

Using Format