Sunday, April 29, 2012

as easy as breathing...

"d'Archangel III", 8" x 10", gouache on black paper.
Copyright Pamela Jo Ellis, 2012

I attended a conference once where one of the presenters was telling us to find the things in our lives that are as "easy as breathing" - that if we put our energies toward these things, then we would find our "bliss." It was put forth as a way to find fulfillment in your daily life and work, as well as greater financial independence. !! Well, coming up with that list was a challenge - I mean, what comes absolutely naturally?  ummmm... reading? talking with friends - laughing with my children? then I went deeper - dancing - I'm always dancing... mostly in my kitchen... and, even tho I don't do it just for fun very often, I do love to draw. It's one step removed from "breathing" because you have to first pick up utensils and substrate (paper and pencil or whatever is at hand) but it does comes easily - always has. It's as if the image just comes in through my eyes and out through my hand onto the paper - and I don't have to think about it. I relate it to MY amazement when I see a pianist (like Sue or Andrea or Terry) just open a book, look at the music, and the music just flows through her eyes to her fingers onto the keyboard and into our ears. Drawing is like that for me - it just flows. Not that it didn't take her studying key signatures - music theory - and actual practice time playing, and not that I didn't have to learn about perspective and color - value - line and practice drawing, but I never felt I wasn't getting it - that I couldn't do it. I always could. 

"d'Archangel IV", 8" x 10", gouache on black paper.
Copyright Pamela Jo Ellis, 2012
Dancing.  Drawing.  When I was in college I applied for a big grant that would have taken me to Paris and Kiev to draw dancers at the ballet companies there. I didn't get the grant but only because the Ballet companies wrote back to me and told me my presence would be too intrusive, so they wouldn't grant me permission to sit in on classes. (I think the grant committee liked my proposal though...) After all these years, the urge to combine my two interests is still running in the background. So I set up a photo shoot with one of my mature dancers, and here are my first forays into the two things combined.  It is a new direction I want to take my art; an entirely new type of imagery. (But yes, I will continue with my landscapes, as I do continue to desire to eat.) These first few are just getting me started; I actually want to experiment with more movement and less visual accuracy, however, I was satisfied with the tonality and freshness of this first set. I expect at first that the time I'm devoting to these two things that "are as easy as breathing" may actually contribute to more strife (financial, that is) if people don't respond to this new set of images, but I've always felt that if you paint what you love, people will see/feel that and respond in kind. Well, I can hope for that anyway :) 


  1. I was in Rangeley a few years ago (I'm from Maryland) and there was an art fair and you were showing your work. I bought a print of yours..a winter scene which I love. I am also an artist and appreciate your style, color and composition sense. I am currently doing a miniature painting for a friend of the Shenandoah mountains. I'm finding it difficult to do actually because I'm used to painting fairly large. I immediately thought of you! I went to your website to see how you tackled distant's not easy to get the aerial do it SO well!! Well, I saw that you have a blog and I'm excited to read your innermost thoughts and struggles with being an artist. I see I am not the only one who procrastinates and has to do paintings over again. When I see that an artist of your caliber goes through that, it makes me feel so much better! Thank you for sharing...I'm also glad to see that you continue to want to grow. I feel the same way because I hate to get stagnant and think I have nothing more to learn...never! I love your ballerina series and that's why I really want to comment. I love how you're stepping out (or leaping out!!) and trying something new. People will love it too. You have laid a beautiful foundation of work and you are just building on it. Thanks again and I look forward to seeing more! I would love to know what colors you like to use and do you use white to paint the distant mountains? Oh, and I like to use a scrubber brush too, but have you tried Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser sponge? It is incredible and takes the paint right off your paper!

    1. Barbara, thanks for your comments - I ALWAYS struggle - usually with the choices of imagery (do I paint what I know will sell... or do I paint what inspires ME?) - so I reward hours on a classic (sellable) painting with a bit of time on a ME project. Let's see, I'll answer your q's: I never use white in my watercolors, I just leave it (the paper) and/or paint transparently. The colors I use are: Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Payne’s Grey, Hooker’s Green, Permanent Sap Green and I've recently added Cobalt Violet to my palette - it's great for lupines. (I'm starting up my watercolor classes again tomorrow so I have a materials list right handy.) I didn't know the Magic Eraser would work as a scrubber - I'll have to try that! Good luck with the miniature. I'll keep blogging - I am working on a new substrate - "Aquabord" by Ampersand - have you tried it? It forces me to loosen up and be more direct because it doesn't layer as well... I mean, when you go over a section, often the paint underneath will lift - whereas when I use my Arches paper, previous layers adhere really well...anyway I can also frame it up without glass! I'll blog about it soon an post some of the images. Always trying something new is good. Keeps us fresh.