“Perfect alignment – that’s what painting feels like to me. My intention is always to paint with a wholeheartedness and an awareness that transcends the brushstrokes to feelings of unconditional love for the viewer.” – Erica Eriksdotter

When I started painting at age seven, I thought you had to be dead before you could be a successful painter. It was the mid-1980’s and my only reference to a painter’s life came from stories I heard about the old masters–and alas, they were all dead. 

But I painted anyway. I learned by listening to the whispers of inspiration, never doodling but painting by referencing landscape photos in my mom’s design magazines or hitting pause on the VHS tape of opening scenes from ‘Anne of Green Gables’. Everything I’ve picked up along the 35 years since dipping my paint brush at the dining table in Sweden, I taught myself. Through playfully painting and with lots of trial and heartache, I not only expanded my artistry, I felt a peacefulness in my heart. A sort of re-grounding.

Viewing a watercolor piece of balloons from the 90’s similar to the first painting I sold at age 10.

I sold my first painting at age 10 of a simple landscape and balloons, and finished watercolor pieces while on the phone with my girlfriends, or while traveling in Europe with my family in my teenage years. To me, painting was as essential as breathing. It supported and nurtured me.

My art continued to hold me while moving away from Sweden to attend college in Virginia, losing my father and landing demanding entry-level jobs in Public Relations in D.C. I received my first commission at age 25, followed by my first exhibit a year after which resulted in two more commissions.

After receiving my Green Card, I finally launched Studio Eriksdotter in 2009 and my husband and I traveled up and down the East Coast participating in National Juried Art Shows. While I had sold paintings before, sharing my art with the world was both exciting and nerve wrecking. I got on the emotional rollercoaster each time setting up our booth, and felt pretty drained by the end of the weekend. It was pure passion and drive for my art that kept me going. Though I was scared, I did it anyway. I showed up for myself and in turn, art continued to support and nurture me.

Exhibiting with my flowers paintings at a National Juried Art Show in East Hampton, N.Y.

The Art of Teaching + Giving Back

We have a lot of fun memories from those art shows. Many of the amazing customers I met throughout those years are still supporting me today, and my home is filled with art we picked up from fellow painters.

When my increasing responsibilities in the corporate world saw me packing away the art show gear in the attic, I had already found my deep passion for painting pets. And sure, a steady corporate communication paycheck felt like a luxury compared to trying to make it as an artist. But I missed the community. That’s when I started offering in-home painting classes back in 2013 (crazy to think that’s 10 years ago now).

I temporarily turned the dining room into an art classroom and ‘Cocktails & Canvases’ was born. Each class was 4 hours long and each student painted a different subject as I guided each from start to finish. I loved teaching those classes – we had so much fun! Seeing how my tools and techniques opened their eyes to a whole new world, or how my words of encouragement would realign their focus and release any self-doubt that had crept in at the halfway point, expanded my heart and gratitude for my art experience.

Teaching students how to paint in my home.

When not teaching classes, or climbing the corporate ladder, you’d find me painting custom pet portraits in the studio evenings and on the weekends. Sharing our love for our pets unites us, and much of the inspiration for painting pets comes from my love of my childhood Yorkie. It began over a decade ago with the desire to paint him which led me to asking my followers if I could practice on their pets instead (I was too emotionally involved in the outcome of Lucas’ portrait). I shared the progress on social media and in my newsletters and that’s how more people started hiring me.

A new season in my life was brewing and with a growing family turning my house upside down for classes or in-house art shows became impossible. I decided to focus solely on my custom pet portraits and eventually left the corporate world after 15 years in 2017 to juggle family and my art.

Juggling family and art…often takes on a literal meaning.

The birth of my online art classes + tools

That’s when the idea of doing virtual classes was born – to gently guide others to tap into their creativity and feel the support of acrylic paint. Before I could launch, the Washington Post did a big feature on my healing pet portraits (with live TV, global coverage etc. following). My inbox was flooded with commission requests and my dream was coming true.

I was invited to speak in front of other painters about my pet portraits and my life as a painter. Me, a self-taught painter from Sweden sharing what I know in front of other painters? I saw painters’ heads nodding in agreement, teary eyed from recognition of the deep sorrow of losing a dog. My talks were deeply appreciated and fellow artists were thanking me for my inspirational and encouraging story. It solidified how much I love sharing what I have learned over the last 35 years.

Speaking to painters of the McLean Art Society in Virginia.

It became crystal clear to me that we needed more joy and healing and I launched my online classes and free resources (like YouTube and my blog) in 2020 with the intention of gently guiding more people to a place of meditative joy and healing. My art has supported and nurtured me through the ups and downs for more than three decades – I want that – the feeling of perfect alignment, the meditative joy, the inner peace, the love, for you too.

Through my How to Paint a Dog Portrait I teach you my step-by-step process of painting a realistic dog portrait and much more of what I’ve honed since I started painting at age seven at the dining table in Sweden. If you want to learn new skills and level up as a wholehearted artist for self-fulfillment or to become a commissioned pet portrait painter (or both!) be sure to add yourself to the waitlist. The live portion of this course runs November 14, 2022 – January 29, 2023 with a holiday break.

I hope my painting experience – the brushstrokes that have brought me to you – encourages you to tap into your own creativity and to reach for the paint tubes when you need the extra support and nurture.

Click here to learn more about How to Paint a Dog Portrait online course.