Eyes of Eau Claire: Erin Duba

Painter and park worker talks painting and Wisconsin nature

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling


Photo by Lindsey Ambrosius

Erin Duba’s artwork ranges from abstract and landscape paintings to tablet creations.

Making art, for a local painter, is something she said she’ll never stop.

“I don’t know how I couldn’t stick with art, it’s like when someone breathes for the first time, and they’re like, ‘maybe I shouldn’t do this,’” Erin Duba said. “No one says that, they want to keep breathing, because it’s amazing!”

Duba is originally from Grafton, a small town near Milwaukee and has been creating art in Eau Claire for more than a year. Although she is not from here, she said she enjoys the art scene and the nature.

“I like being in Eau Claire because I like being inspired by nature, but not in a way that it affects my art, more so it gets me in the mood to be creative,” Duba said.

She said the Wisconsin landscape is beautiful in the fall, with foliage and waterfalls in the area people do not appreciate.

During the time she isn’t making art, Duba may be found working at local Coon Fork Campground, about 40 minutes from Eau Claire.

She said one day, she hopes to be a park ranger and work outside all day long. Afterward, she said she’ll try something new.

“I think I’d probably rather be a florist, but I’d like to continue to create art throughout that time,” Duba said.

Her art ranges from abstract to landscape paintings, all of them done with oil paints. During her junior year of high school, she learned the technique and fell in love with it ever since, she said.

Although the paint takes a long time to dry because you have to go layer by layer, Duba said it is easy to work with and you can go over your mistakes, unlike with acrylic or watercolor painting.

“It’s so malleable and it never dries, which is actually terrible because you get it all over yourself and it stains everything,” Duba said. “But if you make a mistake you can go over it and you can make it perfect.”

Despite the fact Duba does not go to the university, she says she enjoys being in Eau Claire rather than her hometown. If she was at home, she said, she would just watch TV and not be motivated to do art.

Tanner Mantel, Duba’s roommate, said her art embodies her personality and always has.

“She’s always been very fun and bubbly, so I feel like that really comes through in her art,” Mantel said.

Mantel, who also attended middle and high school with Duba, said she is happier in Eau Claire and enjoys having new experiences.

He said her interests are special and she is passionate about subjects most people tend to dislike.

“I love how unique she is,” Mantel said. “She makes you feel good; so does her art.”

During Duba’s work at the county park, she said she came across a “cool” caterpillar that made her appreciate nature.

Art and nature are not the only things that define Duba, as Mantel said she is one of the kindest people he knows.

“Erin’s one of the best people I know,” Mantel said. “She’s so loyal and so generous and wants everyone around her to be happy.”