Art quotes

"For the last 20 year period I've been working with ideas conceived as a child." -Red Grooms

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hoffmaster State Park on Great Lake Michigan

Sand Dance, 9x12 oil on board
June 5 - We just might get our first trip to Lake Michigan in for this year. The blankets and picnic supplies are beginning to be found. The maps and G P S ready for use. The next step is where to? The shorelines are calling to us, “We are beautiful!” 
Morning Shadows 18x24 oil on linen
We nestled in to this welcoming slope
at Hoffmaster State Park  
We stifle a little laugh at our childlike giddiness as we go through the process we know so well. Will the sun be out to bake us or just warm the dunes?  Do we need all this food? ... And what about eating out? Should we leave at dawn like the many times before or let the morning sun sneak in and wake us hopefully in time to beat the morning rush hour traffic? 
All this planning is just to see the beautiful Great Lake Michigan. My family has been doing this for low those many years of my childhood. The family albums are full of little children, including me, sitting on a blanket trying to sit and smile at the Kodak camera.  At least I didn’t say Kodak box camera. Well, any way, you get the picture the dunes are calling again and with a lot of driving and a little luck my batteries will be charged for another painting season.

June 11 - P.S. Well, we did go the lake and yes we did get the weather report:  a cool day in the mid 60’s, so we planned sweatshirts and jeans. As we got near the lake the sun came out shooting the temp up to the low 80,s! What happened to the mid 60’s? If you know us you know we don’t give up, so we did get to the sand and water dressed for cool weather as other beach goers were in more comfortable swimming attire. The sand was hot as the morning sun beat down. We made our beach blanket nest and settled in for a little surf sound nap.

Cooling of the Dunes award-winning 24x20
oil sold during busy month of May.
Soon we were aware of the increasing sounds of happy children swarming the sand playing beach games. A few teacher types stood guard as the end of the school year party blasted into full swing. A wet boy, arms out stretched yelled, “Free hugs” as he flew by. His friends ran from him howling back, “yuk, change your wet shirt.” The hunger for a hugs boy retorted, “Here? in front of the girls? No, I’ll change in the bushes.” We watched the kids just be that great preteen sub set of the human family. The most memorable moment for me was not so much the beautiful sandy beach but how we all lived that day in our own special way enjoying Lake Michigan.

Spring Marsh Song 36x36 acrylic, sold
through Shiawassee Art Center
It sure was a surprising and fun way to recharge the creative batteries and we got a chance to peek into the funny lives of those free and happy children on their end of school year treat at the beach.

We are taking a bit of a rest from the current exciting art show season. The winner at Shiawassee Art Center for Best Abstract is still on display until June 30 (see last blog, May 17). Rise Up was a joy to paint and even more exciting to receive a thoughtful judge critique for the win. We had excellent experiences with both the SAC member show and the Riverwalk Theatre show including positive responses and some sales.

Great Escape 18x24 oil on canvas
sold early in June 

Go, look at the art about you this summer.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Creative Energy Begins in the Young

       We had another art experience courtesy of children at play. They were just doing what pleased them and the results were mind boggling. We, the grandparents, sit and watch in wonder at the shear flow of creative energy being generated after a long day of school. 

       The third grader is on the computer making a fast car to race. Superchargers and racing tires rated for high speed in place and off he goes learning about G forces. The pre-k artist is drawing a prehistoric shark. He gets scissors working to cut out his creation that Picasso would have been proud to see.

       Watching these young children grow and develop is my open door to the complex world of the creative process. Both have the drive to express the mysterious energy that flows in all of us. Each child releases the desire to make something in different ways. After their personal experience there is the moment of sharing and, through our admiration, the sense of fulfillment of their creative journey.

Nautilus, 24x24
currently at Riverwalk Theatre 
 This early spring has been a time for me to share my creative output and it really has been a trip of sharing. The two main shows went up with the usual details covered – one at Shiawassee Art Center (SAC) and the other still exhibiting until May 30 at Riverwalk Theatre Lobby, an elegantly design lighted to view a couple of dozen wall art pieces. We had a chance to meet the fine folks that put art shows together and work with them and experience their creative challenges. We also, gratefully, had sales of strong works and one award at the SAC membership show – a large abstract titled Rise Up.
Rise Up winner of Best Abstract at SAC Membership show, May 2017

       We all have the buildup of creative energy. Once we put the energy to work, we are compelled to share the sense of fulfillment that comes with the positive responses we receive.
Thank you to all who support the arts. Here’s to a creative summer.

Local mid-Michigan people will want to check out the Mid-Michigan Art Guild 12x12 Show. Some fine small sized art at Framer's Edge, Haslett, Michigan.

The beautiful Shiawassee Art Center, Owosso, Michigan, 206 Curwood Castle Dr. now celebrating 45 years! Open new hours Monday-Friday 12-5, Saturday and Sunday 12-4, Free admission.

Quest 40x30
currently exhibited at Riverwalk Theatre
Riverwalk Theatre, 228 Museum Drive, Lansing Michigan, the lobby is designed especially as an art gallery, now exhibiting 24 Joel Ellis favorites.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Guide to the Future

Silent Spring 24x30
now at Riverwalk Theatre
       A few years ago, well ok, one decade ago we were planning a major life change. This was no simple change. It was a job requiring a move from the house we built ourselves where we raised our children. That is a big time change.

       We, Helene and I, made detailed plans with timelines. We were in full moving mode but we had to first face the most challenging task moving families face: the stuff we collected over the years. We sorted through box after box of “important papers”,
Sunrise Mist 16x20
now at Shiawassee Art Center
mementos, photos, photos, clothes, making a thousand decisions -  but the volume of our stuff seemed to increase. One day I came back to the sorting area after taking a load to the truck and found a large hand painted sign hanging over the boxes. It proclaimed our guide to the future. ---HOW SHALL THE PAST BE REMEMBERED---?

Birch Sunset 20x16
at Riverwalk Theatre
       That questioning phrase has been haunting us after our big move and is still more haunting as we sort through and move the stuff from our elders through their final years. Just what are the criteria we use to keep or discard? We have so many variables for each situation.

       Now the same scenario appears with the Art. We have been asking artist colleagues how they build a strong body of work, as in how does the artist judge their own work to present to the viewing audience? If we get into a deep philosophical discussion, the usual response is strained because their emotional involvement is from the heart and soul, a very deep place. 
  Some responses are confidently vague: ---   You just know ---If the piece still speaks to you--- if the piece is show worthy. Show worthy, wow. I think show worthy means if the work is still strong after the moment when we first knew it was good and the artist is happy to have had a hand in its creation.
Spring Marsh Song 36x36 at Shiawassee Arts Center
We the creators of our artistic vision, in building a cohesive and enduring body of work, should be in touch with our future audiences and muse over the phrase, ---how shall the past be remembered---?
News on Joel Ellis Art: As of this writing, nearly 50 diverse Joel Ellis paintings are on display in the Michigan area. To enjoy paintings live, please check out these venues during April and May:

The beautiful Shiawassee Art Center, Owosso, Michigan, 206 Curwood Castle Dr. now celebrating 45 years! Joel Ellis Art, March 14 to April 23 in the Hebert and Docent Galleries, open new hours Monday-Friday 12-5, Saturday and Sunday 12-4, Free admission.
Flower Glow 16x20 at Riverwalk Theatre

Riverwalk Theatre, 228 Museum Drive, Lansing Michigan, the lobby is designed especially as an art gallery, now exhibiting 24 Joel Ellis favorites.

A grand thank you to primary artist-helpers during the set-up of both of these venues, Tom Tomasek  at Shiawassee and Jackie Borszich at Riverwalk Theatre. Thank you for all your help with these exhibits.
Jackie Borszich helping to set up
Joel Ellis show at Riverwalk Theatre
standing with Lascaux Nights

And Thank you to friends and colleagues who read the blogs or visit the art at public sites, we are greatly appreciative of your patronage. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mysterious Moment of Inspiration

The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.”  Auguste Rodin 
       There is a mysterious moment when the artist stands in front of the blank canvas waiting for the inner energy to bubble forth. When a viewer stops to look at my work and asks what inspired me I want to give them the long answer. I have to admit this has happened and the viewer’s eyes have been known to glaze over out of boredom. So just how do we present “the story” that fueled the painting that stopped the passing viewer?
       For some artists who are painting in a theme or a series, the energy is already flowing and easy to tap into. Even with the familiar experience, however, there can be that moment of contemplation, “how do I get this painting going?”
       Please notice how long I have taken to get to the question, “what inspired me…” You get the point. There is for me and other artists no easy answer. So let me try again - ahem. Let’s see now. There is the cliché stuff like sunsets, really, and sand dunes and cloud formations and, and….
       Then there are the times when that special inner energy is easily tapped and sometimes it is agonizing. Staring at a blank canvas is an ancient experience, I think, like moments when multiple surprises come together, almost as if spirits are taking advantage of the pause. Those are very euphoric and blessed moments, we artists live for that Adrenalin rush. When it doesn’t work, when calling on inspirational keys doesn’t click, it is torture filled with self-questioning.
we are stardust expression in acrylic 36x36
exhibited at Shiawassee Art Center March 14 - April 23, 2017
       Some of the inspirational keys come from exploring a painting technique like the wide swaths of paint in we are stardust.
       Nautilus (below) was inspired by a conch shell that has been sitting on a shelf in our home. Some inspiration comes from an interplay of materials in hand - thin or thick or fluid mixes in action. Sometimes the inspiration hits the right beat with the music playing and we find the brush almost taps by itself. 
       It is all so interesting – the business of being inspired and the outcome of creating.

NAUTILUS 24x24 diamond acrylic
to be exhibited at Riverwalk Theatre, Lansing Michigan April 5 to May 30

Large conch shell on the shelf
What is coming up.
        This has been a busy Spring for showing my art – two paintings at the MEA building just off of Saginaw, East Lansing for the 53rd exhibit of Michigan educators art; groupings of some of my favorite paintings in two galleries of the Shiawassee Art Center Owosso, Michigan; and coming up in April a series of Joel Ellis Art in the beautiful lobby of the Riverwalk Theater off Museum Drive near Impressions5 science museum.
        Other news – my grandson, Tyler Smith, a graduating senior from Grand Valley State University, has three drawings selected for the Michigan Collegiate Art Exhibition currently exhibiting at Lansing Art Gallery, downtown Lansing, reception and awards March 24 6-8 p.m.
         I am honored that the venues are available to artists in mid-Michigan and that I am included. Think original art for home and office.

There is beauty all around us, enjoy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Art Reflections 2016 into 2017

To become inspired to write this blog, I went to the 2016 journal for a quick review of the year, and what a year it was. A major gallery sale came through and the chance to represent Michigan in another venue this time in Michigan. The phrase being in the right place at the right time made other connections possible. Thanks to all those who helped made this art year worth the effort.

Another high point for me was an exhibit opening at the Cycling Salamander house gallery of Charlevoix. After hours of preparation the doors opened and among the interested visitors a young preteen came with her family. She looked carefully over the rooms of paintings before stopping in
Solitary Blues 16x20 recent exhibit at Cycling Salamander
front of me with her arms out stretched and asked, “Who did all these paintings?” Her family pointed to me. Without hesitation she extended her hand for a formal handshake. We spent the next half hour talking about each of the paintings. Her pure joy of being part of the art experience was for me refreshing and reaffirming and enough to keep me working with a sense of joy through the year.

I am hoping in the New Year we may all look at the events around us with the innocence and joy of the young ones we love so much and do our best to see the world through their eyes to make it safe and ready to create art.

We began the year with a buoyant acquisition of Michigan sands and ended with the purchase of another from our other featured artist show at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation  

(MEDC). This is Michigan focusing on Michigan dunes is still available for viewing (but not for long – take down to be determined soon) 9 to 5 weekdays at 300 N. Washington Square, in beautiful downtown Lansing.

Here we are now in 2017 after that very busy year. A few Joel Ellis paintings remain in various shows: three from the Holiday Show at McLaren Physicians Building off of Lake Lansing Road come down January 9; and a large landscape at Shiawassee Art Center in Owosso will be picked up January 14. We are delighted that three featured shows of Joel Ellis Art are planned for 2017. More on that as the year goes on.

We are very greatful to all who showed an interest in the art and for those who purchased paintings from Joel Ellis Art, you validate the work. Thank you.

Wishing all a healthy and successful new year.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Joel F. Ellis Interprets Autumn

Glory Ridge 14x18  oil on board
       The Seasons in Michigan do change we keep telling ourselves after a very long and hot summer that we thought would never end. Color is in the trees. For those of us who enjoy the seasons, this is a glorious time of year and can inspire us to really see the beauty all around us. All regions of this beautiful blue planet have their own special times for us to take in the beauty and be nourished and blessed making our lives richer.

       For me this seasonal display excites and invigorates the passion to interpret this glorious time, yes my palate overflows with yellows and reds and waning green into brown. The local weather reporters add to the interest by showing us the daily color changes and the best time to see the peak color show.

       If you are on one of those beautiful seasonal tours in Michigan, stop in to some of the magnificent art venues and see how artists are inspired by the profusion of autumn colors. All paintings in this blog are from the Joel F. Ellis art inventory.
Enjoy our special planetary gift,
Hamlin Lake  18x24  oil on linen

       P.S.  If you are in Lansing Michigan this autumn, be sure to check the Michigan Economic Development Commission (MEDC) corridor for a dozen touchable paintings by Joel F. Ellis. We are happy to announce that the show has been extended until the end of the year.  

       Where is the MEDC you ask? – while you are in Lansing Michigan, enjoying the many venues in art and sundries on the Washington Ave. walking mall, walk north toward Lansing Community College. MEDC, 300 N. Washington is on the east side of the street, home to Pure Michigan offices, just walk in 9 to 5 weekdays free to view the live paintings of Joel’s beloved Lake Michigan dunes.
Autumn  12x16  watercolor on paper

        If you have an interest in any Joel F. Ellis paintings that you see out and about or online, please inquire with Joel or Helene (major assistant number 1) at 517-256-3277 or e-mail
Joel F. Ellis

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Endurance and Faith to Reach the Goal

       When we face challenges we often have doubts and, well ok maybe fear of the effort we put out and a hope for satisfactory outcome. Along with the angst we have to throw in the mix a bit of faith. I’m referring to the enormous amount of planning and hard work to put together two quality art shows back to back in just a few weeks. 
Cooling of the Dunes, 24x20, award winner
now on display at
Michigan Economic Development Corporation

       The effort reminded me of one very pleasant summer day when we had the joy of taking our four-year-old grandson fishing, fishing his way. Mom, Karla, gave us this itty bitty butterfly net that Simon wanted to use. Who are we to refuse a four-year-old his dream?  Here’s where the faith part comes in. He was sure he would catch a fish, his fish. We took him to a local beloved park with a dock and plenty of hungry swimmers. He brought a bag of stale bread to enhance the task. You see, he was fearless and had faith in his adventure.
        The dock was floating about two feet above the water, so Helene hovered inches from the excited confident child. He flung a chunk of bread and watched the surface churn into froth of water and sparkling scales. The net came out as he leaned toward the edge of the deck scooping this way and that each time coming up empty. The process was repeated over and over with his confidence still in tack. The stale bread was coming to an end but the little person kept dipping his tiny net into the water where a few fish lingered. Time went by. We worried. How would we let him experience, well defeat? Nervously we watched his continuing attempts. Suddenly a shout of joy vibrated across the lake, “I caught one!”
Caught eating a piece of bread.
 Little hands eagerly revealed a surprised shiny little guy laying in the net. After carefully touching the squirming fish and showing his prize to people on the dock he gently placed the beautiful wiggler back into the water saying, “There you go, mister.” 

       We need such a joyful outlook on life; his four year world is void of doubt and bolstered by his child like faith in catching that elusive fish. We too have to know that through steady endurance we have done what we could to bring to life the challenging art shows. We need to have the faith of the little beauty on the dock dipping and dipping, confident in his expected outcome.
Red Bluff, Joel F. Ellis signature painting
Currently on display at Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Lascaux Nights, homage to cave artists of Lascaux, France
36x48 acrylic on display at Cycling Salamander, Charlevoix MI

Gravity, 16x20, on display at Cycling Salamander
        Thirty six paintings from Joel Ellis Art can be seen at two worthy venues in Michigan this Summer – Twelve impressions of Michigan’s glorious dunes are exhibited Monday through Friday 8 to 5 at  Michigan Economic Development Corporation) 300 S. Washington, downtown Lansing, Michigan.
On Hold, 16x20, impression of boats caught frozen in Michigan waters
Currently on display at Cycling Salamander, Charlevoix, MI
       If you are enjoying Michigan’s beautiful “Up North” near Charlevoix, you may want to check the house gallery of  Cycling Salamander fine arts on U.S. 31 for 24 abstract expressionistic Joel Ellis works on display through September, 10 to 6 daily, Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday 12 to 4.

Happy August, Joel