Drew Ernst attended Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the oldest art museum and school in the United States. There, he studied under accomplished artists such as Sidney Goldman, Peter Paone, and Bo Bartlett.
To learn the intricacies of the human form, Ernst also spent time at the Hannaman Medical School in Philadelphia, drawing cadavers.
Drew Ernst’s work captures mixed, even conflicting, emotions and oppositional energies. The scale, generally large and sometimes monumental, allows the paintings to take on their own life. Their human size invites the viewer to become a part of the depicted universe, to step past the surface, to engage and explore the different layers hidden within the strong light that defines Ernst’s world.
Ernst credits his creative drive and photographic precision to childhood experiences of observing his father, an image-maker. As a very small child, he would sit on the floor of his father’s dark room with a huge roll of white paper and finger paint. While his father developed photos, he would paint in the dark or hue of the red light.
Commenting on his own creative process Ernst states that like the resulting work, it is a complex thing, “contradictory, containing both positive and negative energy, a strange journey through the human psyche, bringing inspiration and excitement.” Each new idea experienced as both a “sort of meditation-like zone” but also “an obsession. Our minds take us to strange places.”