Every day Layton worked at creating self-portraits that reflect her response to contemporary social issues. Layton comes from a family of writers and journalist and was herself managing editor of her hometown newspaper, The Wellsville Globe. The editorial content of her drawings reveals the influence of her journalism background. Following a divorce she raised five children, which perhaps explains her empathy for those who find themselves in situations beyond their control.
She also suffered from bouts of depression for much of her life, which caused her to identify with those tormented by the pressures of modern society. Her work dispels the myths and misconceptions of old age. She examines personally and unexpectedly painful subject matter that rejects the stereotypical image of a grandmother. These drawing reveal the expectations of the wide-eyed child, the young girl filled with vitality, the wife and lover, the nurturing parent, and a strong-willed and opinionated social activist.
Elizabeth Layton was struggling with bi-polar illness and profound depression when she began contour drawing in 1977 at age 68. Art became more than therapy for this Wellsville, Kansas, Native - it saved her life. Her drawings and writings have enriched the lives of countless others and have been exhibited at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art, and in more than 200 art museums and centers throughout the U.S.