Her work transmits peace but she, on the contrary, is a bundle of energy. She got her passion for golf before she picked up a paint brush, but now she can’t live without either. Both hobbies complement each other: painting helps her stay in touch with her most intimate self, while on the golf course, she keeps up the social relationships which provide her with so much.
First and foremost, Elisa Cook is an artist. She was born in Barcelona but sees her herself a citizen of the world. She has an innate ability to communicate; the several languages she speaks are simply a tool to express herself. Her smile, femininity and elegance are her hallmark. When Elisa wants something, she achieves it. She has managed to capture the light and reflect it in her paintings through effort, hard work and plenty of dedication. She has held more than forty exhibitions all around the world, taking in cities such as Paris, Salzburg and New York. Her work has been hung in such important places as the Palace of the United Nations in Geneva or the Nantong Museum (China’s first museum). She has also sold over 150 paintings. The secret to her success was learning from the best teachers and working very hard to achieve her goals. She learnt the importance of effort from an early age. After a bilingual education in the Lycée Français, Elisa achieved three university diplomas in Geneva, the most important of which was her education in Translation and Interpreting, a profession she dedicated herself to until she became a mother. Her artistic talent shone from an early age, when she quickly learnt how to play the Spanish guitar. She has currently been living in Marbella for six years. She is an active member of the Aloha Golf Club and enjoys spending her time between the canvas and the greens.
Two passions: golf and painting. Which is most important to you?
It’s hard to choose. Both really, but I’m much better at painting than I am at golf. I was a good player, but as I’ve got older, I don’t play quite as well, and my handicap is rising. However, I can’t complain, because this year I was the overall champion at Aloha, and they chose me best female player of the year. I also managed a hole-in-one at Las Brisas, on hole 16.
Was that your first one?
No, I’d already managed one in Geneva.
Elisa, let’s start with painting: Where do you get your inspiration?
Everything is in my imagination and my memories. I’ve never been able to copy anything, nor have I wanted to. I put opera music on in the background and let my imagination run wild. Sometimes I start with one idea and it turns into something completely different. I define my paintings as ‘the search for light’, because I love giving light to my paintings; it’s one of the main reasons why I came to Marbella. My house is called ‘La Pintaluz’ (the Light Painter).
What do you feel when you’re painting?
When I’m painting, I manage to escape, it’s very therapeutic. Since I picked up my first paintbrush, painting became a necessity. Sometimes I wake up thinking about colours or ideas and I get straight out of bed to paint.
What materials do you use?
In general, I’ve always preferred oils but lately this is changing. I try to evolve, seeking new ideas, concepts and colours. I am using a lot of iridescent colours, glosses, silver, gold, Venetian gold, all types of acrylics. I do acrylic painting, but often end up using oil. There is one colour which I absolutely love, which is an Australian gold red which I can only find in Australia.
What style would you assign to your work?
I started learning with the figurative style. I’ve evolved towards abstract painting and in fact, I’m very comfortable with this type because it gives me more freedom; it allows me to use my imagination. I have a very personal style which involves water and sky landscapes and very stylised seascapes. To achieve the transparencies, I use many different colours. Sometimes I use very vivid colours, such as an emerald green or a carmine in a painting which appears totally blue, but in fact, many colours are used in transparency.
When do you consider a painting to be finished?
That’s a very good question. I did a painting, the one I’m most proud of, which is a nude portrait of my daughter with her back to me. I was on a course and the teachers wanted me to continue, but I felt that the painting was finished. It’s very important to know when it is complete, especially if you are using transparencies a lot, because if you overload it, you have gone too far.
We have seen that you do many paintings of Venice.
Yes. I’ve got a great memory for the colours and lights. Venice has a golden light when the sun goes down which is unique.
Who are your influences?
Of all the ones I like, Zao Wou-ki, Van Gogh, the impressionist painters and Turner are my favourites. You can see their influences in my work.
How far would you like to go with your painting?
I’m quite satisfied with the result of my work and the success it has had. I like the fact that people appreciate my work. Recognition is always nice and as an artist, I put this above any commercial matters.
Tell us some experiences you’ve had with your paintings.
A very strange-looking man once liked two of my paintings and didn’t know which one to choose. In the end, he had to borrow money to buy a painting. He couldn’t really afford it, but he fell in love with my work and wanted to have it no matter what. Also, a psychologist who opened a practice once bought a painting for her waiting-room because she thought it would transmit serenity to her patients. Also, my son, when he and his friends are stressed, look at my work to relax.
Which technique is more difficult, golf or painting?
As I get older, my painting technique is improving. The reverse is happening in golf. No matter how much technique you have in the sport, unfortunately your body gets older and the speed in which your muscles react slows down. Age does not affect me when I’m painting, rather, it gives me more maturity.
When did you start playing golf?
In 1983, because my ex-husband played golf. We became members of a course in Geneva because he wanted me to take it up and I started to enjoy it. In fact, I took to it even more than he did. We had a house in S´Agaró and I was member of Golf Mas Nou, and we bought a house in Sotogrande and I became member of Valderrama and Sotogrande. Now I’m a member of Aloha.
Why did you choose Marbella, was it for the light or golf?
The whole package. The climate, the character, the food. I’m Spanish and it’s in my blood. Waking up every day to this sunshine, this warmth – after living in Geneva for so many years, it’s a sheer joy.
How much time do you dedicate to golf?
I play 18 holes three times a week. I play ladies tournaments, the weekend tournaments. I belong to a group, nive&wine, and we play every Thursday. It’s great fun.
Why did you choose Aloha?
I looked around a lot and I was between Aloha and las Brisas. There’s an incredible social life at Aloha. If I play less golf, it’s because we spend so much time after each round eating and drinking. There’s a unique social life.
What do you love about golf the most?
I’m not sure, because it requires everything I am not. I am always rushing, and it requires a lot of patience, which I just don’t have, except when it comes to my children, painting and craft work. I enjoy chatting, but I prefer not to in golf tournaments because it makes me lose concentration. I don’t like walking, and you always have to walk in golf. It must be the challenge which attracts me.
How did you become hooked then?
I don’t know, but I really liked it right from the beginning. I think I like being surrounded by nature. I think that the first tournament I played in, I won, without realising I was playing so well, and I won a very nice price. And even though I wasn’t a competitive person, I started to compete again, and I loved winning tournaments. I really enjoyed seeing people applaud me. That possibility of exceeding your own expectations. I realised that it was a sport in which I could win, and I loved that.
Let us in on the secret as to how you look so good.
I don’t do anything. I’ve got a good metabolism, so I’m lucky. I eat everything, I love bread, for example. I can eat a whole baguette to myself during a round of golf. I love fashion and being elegant, and I enjoy reflecting my personality in the way I dress.
At El Campanario Golf & Country Club we can admire the paintings of Elisa Cook. The exhibition “A Journey into the Light” will take place until the end of March.