Art quotes

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Art of Looking at Art

Joel Ellis painting
How we view visual art comes natural to most of us. Some like the viewing to be warm and cozy realistic scenes with pleasing colors. Others would prefer a more dynamic event like leaning over a cliff to get the perfect camera angle. In a gallery setting there are viewers who stand face on with a painting, hands to face, staring, waiting for the perfect message to arrive.

At the Detroit Institute of Art viewers 
experience the work of Vincent VanGogh
While putting up the most recent show at the Armory, officially known as the Chamber of Commerce in Owosso, Michigan, we had office workers and casual visitors to the building stop and look at the installation in progress. They too were engaging in the art as the look of the large main entrance was changing. For the artist as curator, “putting up” a show means matching sizes, colors, form and frames as well as content of the works. Some of our office visitors were visibly pleased with their transformed environment.

Many people choose to place art objects in the surroundings of their personal spaces. Archeology digs are replete with artifacts that had significant meaning for the viewers of ancient times. They had their reasons of choice as we do. We too adorn our walls with what brings true emotional pleasure. Next time you have the experience of viewing art with other folks, please take a moment to consider what is before you the very expressions and definition of being human. 

Quest 40x30

The Owosso Armory, across the Shiawassee River from one of Michigan’s gems in art - the Shiawassee Art Center - will be displaying the Joel Ellis Art exhibition for a few weeks, possibly into June. As a project of Michigan ArtShare, the exhibit, or parts of, will be transported for showings in other Michigan sites participating in the Urban/Rural Conversation. I am also greatful to have some of my paintings in the beautiful Shiawassee Art Center (SAC), Lansing McLaren Physicians building, and other mid-Michigan community sites through summer. More about Joel Ellis Art will be announced through the year.

Enjoy this new season of original art as artists prepare to show their work. Joel

We Are Stardust 36x36 

Flower Box  24x30

Ocean Sunset  24x30

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Vincent VanGogh and Artists Unknown

Helene and I often look at a piece of art and say we wish we knew the history, the life that it could tell, the creator’s hand, its travels to our time and place. Of course we realize that our own creations are also on their own journey.

Over these many years we have often “rescued” other artists’ works from thrift stores and property sales. In bringing these works into our own environment we have tried to protect them for a time from the ravages of their journey, pondering the art pieces path to this precarious position.

When we go to an estate sale we recognize and respect the home owner’s efforts of their life’s adventure. Their story is often told in their things, including art works, on sale in their homes.

A few years ago we went to a sale that blew us away by the sheer number of paintings lined up on a damp cement basement floor each at minimal prices. As we looked at each one, still life objects on canvas, portrait drawings, we knew we were having a rare moment. Our inquiries were simply answered that the artist passed away with only a disinterested family member far away. The artist did not try to sell paintings during her lifetime. We bought arm loads, cleaned the mildew and growing mold and carefully stored them until their story might continue into the future.

Every active artist ponders their works and wonders what will happen to their pieces on shelves, in cupboards, and stacked under beds. Who will take that second look and maybe say, well done artist, I hope you had a life fulfilled.

First Light 30x40 acrylic, currently at MEDC

I am back to painting and feeling great. We are very pleased that Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) recognizes Michigan artists as a part of their mission of economic development. Currently, arranged through Michigan ArtShare, I have 14 paintings on the main floor of the MEDC building, 300 N. Washington, Lansing. MEDC is open week days during regular business hours.

In addition, I also have two paintings in the McLaren Physicians Building, Lake Lansing Rd., Lansing Michigan. I also have submitted a few paintings at the beautiful Shiawassee Art Center, Owosso Michigan. It feels so good to be back producing and sharing paintings.

One of the most inspiring events of last year was a trip to Detroit Art Institute to see over 70 public and private masterpieces of the one and only Vincent VanGogh. This wonderful exhibition is only shown at the DIA and only here in the U.S. until January 22. We hope you will try to get to the show within the few days remaining.

If you know of friends and others interested who would like to receive the Joel Ellis Art blog news, please share the contact. The website will be updated soon. Thank you for your patronage and your appreciation of artist’s expressions. Temporary contact address:

Here Today 16x20 acrylic

Purple Dunes 16x20 acrylic painted edge

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Art at Shiawassee Art Center

Though we are looking at a slow spring, I am still encouraged to travel to the incredible Great Lakes for some fresh reference photos to inspire new visions of my painting subjects.

Wild Summer, 30x40 oil

We  went to Shiawassee Art Center (SAC) to see the latest exhibit by regional artists on cats. It was good to see the artists play with the cat theme in colorful and poignant ways. I always enjoy coming here, it's a cheery place as staff member Linda acknowledged. 

First Light, 30x40

Folks at SAC are preparing for an exceptional 50th anniversary in August. Lots of fixups are planned around this beautiful Michigan art facility during May to August. One thing during the summer is a Pop-Up Gallery in downtown Owosso staffed by volunteers exhibiting and selling art for three months before the big celebration.

Those are the planning thoughts, but as Charles Schultz’ little dog Snoopy would say when starting his creatives, “It was a dark and stormy night…”  It has been a long time since the last blog post and a lot has come my way. A few health issues that are under control and I am back to painting, back to the routine that makes me happy.


Peaceful Morning, 16x20

Strait Ahead, 30x30

Sunday, February 13, 2022

One Month Later

February 11, 2022

I heard the news today; oh boy … famous words from the Beatles sure express my take on the world stage, so I take a step back and concentrate on the stuff where I can have some influence. The chest pains from one month ago did change my perspective on living and helped me dial in on what really matters. I was painting and felt suddenly ill, all the classic signs of, well you know. Leaving the studio, my thoughts were, could this be my last painting? The good news - all is improving and back to the painting soon. In one month you can sure rank your priorities and look to future works being completed. Thanks to family, friends and most of all the medical community that provided great care.

Evening Spirit
(January 11, 2022)

To get back to painting I needed a little warmup time so I found some stretcher bars. These wooden frame-like devices are for stretching canvas and securing tightly with tacks or staples ready for a gesso base and a surface to lay out dreams. So I stretched two canvases and will be painting again soon. 

JOEL, a greatful artist

Flowers on the Wall



Monday, December 6, 2021

2022 Getting Back to the Studio

          I always start a new blog post by reading a few of the comments covered in previous posts. So today past epistles have been reviewed and with a subtle smile and hope new insights and connections are revealed on the stuff of art . 
Purple Dune
         The spirit, inner light or whatever you wish to call the inner drive to create, can at times be defused, as we all know, by outside forces, and sometimes we have very little control over this mysterious impasse. A young artist I know who is full of bright ideas and not fettered by fancy art training but full of the joy of life suddenly stopped creating and was very solemn for weeks. A few days ago the joy of art making slipped back into place and a very complex drawing came back to the relief of all. To quote the artist, “I thought I lost my art.” 
          One of those outside forces, The Pandemic, is still here and as I write this I am still in my PJs at 10:30 in the morning. Oh well, we soon will be back to the studio. Galleries are waiting and we are making plans for another season of exhibiting new art. 
         We currently have four works at the Shiawassee Art Center (SAC). If you yearn for filling your heart with quality, original art in a beautiful winter setting you should plan for a visit to SAC this month in Owosso Michigan, open daily. These folks know how to decorate. 
          We are also happy to have two paintings in the Mid-Michigan McLaren Physicians building on Lake Lansing Road, Lansing, MI. We were scheduled to present a number of paintings at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, 300 Washington Ave, Lansing Michigan, for a newly renovated opening, but the show has been put on hold because of , guess what –the haunting Pandemic in Michigan. Please where ever you go this season to see the art that lifts you, please wear a mask and be sure you are fully vaccinated, be a warrior against the virus and its friends. 
         Wishing the holidays will bring us joy and hope for the New Year and may we all find our art.  Joel

Florence at Dawn
Rue du Nord

Peaceful Morning


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Joel Ellis Art needs Flowers and Journals

I must have flowers always and always –Monet          

Ten Tulips
Favorite of
Helene's Mom

It is the end of summer with all its tricks, heat, humidity, mosquitoes and the end of waiting for the stuff of life to get back to, well you know do I dare say, normal.  We all hope to get that summer trip in before we are tied into our autumn routine. And, of course, we always hesitate regarding the pandemic.

O yes flowers, I hope you have noticed the flowers wild and planted by well-intentioned humans. What a year for flowers. As I type this last sentence, I looked around the house and see several new flower paintings mixed with old favorites. Careful traveling has helped put most of us in touch with things of beauty and meaning and given us time to reflect on the elements of our life that are so important to us.

Purple Pair, once in a botany
exhibit at Rackham Hall, 
University of Michigan

For years I have tried to keep a journal of the events that have been presented to us on this very interesting art journey. The hard cover journals keep piling up. A few years of the records were miss placed but after a thorough search the history records have been found. Reviewing the years in these pages is quite the long and revealing read. The journals became an important element of an ongoing and evolving inventory. After years of good tries at record keeping, we have finally a professional IT grandson to help with this daunting task on the location of missing paintings - where is it? Or where was it? Do we still have it hidden like the journals? Ryan’s good skill with Excel is proving to be a wonderful gift to help us into a more accurate record of the art inventory.


Elizabeth's Iris
For my Mom in her
last years
As for me and painting I am reminded of a good friend’s encouragement many years ago, “Bloom where you are planted.” Thank for your advice Janet S. and Claude Monet 

These are a few of my flower paintings over the years, most are in private homes.

Summer Joy, 36x36
(recently sold, displayed 
 the owner's charming



           Lellow (named by a darlin child)
Golden Flowers, 30x40
For our favorite granddaughter.
(Our only granddaughter)

Friday, June 4, 2021

Is It Over Yet?

 Could it be over? You know, the Covid thing that has changed our lives so much. It seems so strange how the world’s people have been put to the test of a century and humanity is coming out of its greatest challenge with a new compassion for all the subtle joys.

I have been hoping to compose that paragraph for months and it looks like we will truly be back to our former routines with a greater appreciation for the thing we took for normal.

The fine folks at Shiawassee Art Center (SAC) have strived to keep a positive arts environment alive through these times with variations on their shows and they, too, are back. SAC requested keeping three paintings from the recent featured artists show to display currently with my newest painting going in mid-June for the Membership Show.

Tranquility, 24x28 oil on linen. One of three Joel Ellis paintings, 
popular in the virtual Featured Artists Show in March, 
invited to be retained in the SAC gallery for summer 2021. 

Let me tell you a little about the latest painting. I had taken an especially dynamic photo a few years ago that continues to stand out when I am getting ready to paint. Of course the image was on a Lake Michigan dune. All the things I like to paint were on full glory display that day - sky, dunes, clouds and water. The 30x40 canvas was ready, dreamy Debussy music and sweet memory of a perfect summer day. The paint and the music blended to create a strong work. I finished and walked away feeling great. A few hours passed, so I took a sneak peek at the new masterpiece. I was surprised and deflated. So I put the canvas away for another day trying not to beat myself up too much. 

Pine Bay 20x16, currently displayed at 
McLaren Physicians Building Lansing, Michigan

After a few days I carefully took a quick glance at the dune painting. With a couple of changes it began to show improvements, not there yet but a little better. My patience was wearing thin. I took a crumpled paper towel and dabbed it in yellow and orange paint, plopped it on the foreground and suddenly the painting popped to life. I will include that painting in a future blog.

If you have read this far you know painting is an adventure, a touch of this, a touch of that and each work of art becomes a kind of magic that artists try so passionately to convey to viewers.

If you are in Michigan this summer and seek a lovely place to view art, include a visit to Shiawassee Art Center in Owosso in your plans.   Happy viewing. Joel