Art quotes

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cezanne: art in harmony with nature

Some of the sales of Joel Ellis Art in 2015.

St. Joseph River Headwaters
Sold through the Joel Ellis Art special sale, Gallery 4
An important place to those who know this river.
C├ęzanne often stressed that he painted from nature and according to his sensations, seeking to realize a “harmony parallel to nature.”

There’s no necessity to understand his works, as he only wanted people to appreciate and love his efforts. As we artists work at our crafts we try to keep in mind the audience, the viewer, as a partner in the total experience of seeing and feeling the impulses that propel the creative outcome.

All this fancy talk just to say we hope you give us a chance to complete the cycle--- our interpretations transformed from nature and presented in our message to the viewer. That interpretation could be a still life, a portrait or landscape and even an abstract that forms our efforts to create a visual harmony in nature.

Traverse Morning
Sold from Gallery One of Joel Ellis Art
(We love this painting. So glad it has wonderful new home.)
Thank you to all who purchased paintings from Joel Ellis Art this year from galleries and the online website. Each painting purchased is a confirmation of the work. I am humbled by the support. As the holiday season is upon us our wishes go out to you and your loved ones and may we each seek harmony parallel to nature in the up coming year.

Garden Wall Blossoms
Recently sold from LAAC PreHoliday Exhibit
(Buyer said the painting spoke to her)
Best wishes,

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Michigan Autumn Renewed

It all started with a trip to visit a gallery that has carried my work for years.  The day was sunny and bright and we thought we might get a little beach time. After a few hours of driving and straining to see the traffic I turned myself in to Helene and had to confess not being able to see with much confidence for the last few months. That meant no driving or at best very little.
Autumn Dune Eve, 12x16, oil on linen

After many hours watching Northern Michigan pass by in a blur I knew the decision was for the best but what would be next on this journey of surprises? The eye doctor was soon contacted and the testing began in earnest.  Bright lights, eye drops and eye charts revealed double cataracts, one far advanced and needing to be corrected soon.

The date was set and we tried not to think too much about the pre-surgery scary medical stuff, all of what could happen and think of the positive good that is expected. The twelve hour fast before going was hanging over our heads so we watched a movie, The Verdict. This classic Paul Newman movie turned out to be a big mistake because the film was about a patient dying during surgery.  With much trepidation we arrived for the big event. The staff moved through their process and soon the drug put me to sleep.

A few hours later with a big metal-looking patch on the eye and a bag of eye drops we headed home. The patch had little holes in it so I could sneak a peek at the world through the new eye.  It was beautiful and bright with much more depth and clarity then before the surgery. Just how would this brighter world of better sight affect my art?

For one thing my paintings on our walls seemed new to me. The subtle colors danced and played on the surface giving a new life to old friends. So, how would the work be affected when I got back to painting?  A few days later, the paints went to canvas with remarkable ease. When the painting was completed, the vibrant colors became a celebration, a gift of good vision. 
To see some of the Joel Ellis Art paintings, please check out the website: . We are also having a sale of selected paintings from the Great Lakes series, most of these selections are $190 or less which includes shipping in continental U.S. Quick and easy purchases using the Buy Now buttons through the PayPal system accepting most credit cards. We are very happy with the initial response from friends and collectors of the art. In any case, we hope that as the season for improving home and office environments and thoughts go to quality gifts, that folks will consider original, one-of-a-kind, art as a lasting and exceptional gift.

Touch of Gold, 15x20, oil on canvas, Great Lakes series

Here’s to clear vision,


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Art Provenance

       Looking at a piece of art that is appealing to us, we may have many thoughts about the history and why it appeals to us. Do we really know the history? Do we dare to ask the question, is it real? In the book Artful Dodgers: Frauds and Foolishness in the Art Market Bernard Ewell, is called into legal situations to help in the process of appraising top dollar art works from around the world.

       When asked how to be certain a work of art has the correct artist attached to the work his safest answer is to ask the artist. Obviously this is not always possible. So the next step is the detective route. The art appraiser has to look carefully at the art itself for style, materials used and craft of the materials. The appraiser studies the provenance, or history of the art piece, which includes previous ownership, galleries and printed references. Sometimes the appraiser’s decision on the authenticity of the work may tell the current owner that the piece of art is not what they had hoped for.

Recent purchase at a flea market.
       I received a recently purchased fine portrait from a flea market for a very low price. Many of the questions ran through my mind as well. I like the painting very much. The figure is well executed and the signature is clearly signed. In pursuit of its history, its creator and yes, possible value, I began my detective work. The painting is not American because the size is metric. It was produced sometime in the last 40 years –the canvas is secured with rusting staples not tacks. I began an online research of this intriguing work.

       You would think the possible masterpiece would be easy to identify but not so. After many hours of online searching, my masterpiece is still speaking only to me from the unknown artist’s brain and hand conveying this moment in the artist’s life and times.

       As we look at the art that we choose to live with us, we are caught up in the rush of the history and art movements taking place in the strange art world. We may wonder what changes are next and who will be remembered to represent that moment in the art timeline.

       And what about the very fine portrait from the flea market? Its provenance and artist are still a mystery. There are only a few guide lines for collecting art.  The one I like best is - if the work speaks to you and you think about it after you first walk away, it’s time to return for the art that will give you comfort on this very curious and interesting life’s journey. 
Third Coast View 30x40 acrylic by Joel F. Ellis

     And Please don't forget, you can buy new original art from an artist you know, check


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Metropolitan Museum of Art, A Collections History

Lascaux Nights, 36x48, by Joel Ellis acrylic on canvas, tribute to ancient artists
The travel to art museums season is fast approaching as summer starts to seep into our thoughts. The wonder of the human spirit looking for and hoping to carry a small bit of beauty with them on life’s journey is with us as we too travel. The small ivory carved female figure dating back thousands of years could have been someone’s traveling treasured art object as they moved through their

precarious times.  At the cave paintings in Lascaux, France, we stand in front of and wonder at their beauty and possible meaning. They could have been a message to us telling of the adventure of the hunt or could it be telling us of the creatures they thought might someday not survive for future people to see. We don’t know for sure, but these towering images could have been their art museum.

We humans are natural collectors. These collections could be “I might need it someday” or “It’s so beautiful I have to have it”. Sometimes these collections were meant to impress and say “look at me, I’m important.” Whatever the reasons, these collections do exist.

The history of sharing with folks like us is truly fascinating. An in-depth history of the development of our art collecting is researched for the book Rogues’ Gallery by Michael Gross. Rogues’ Gallery gives an inside look at the collector and the “what next” after the amassed treasures began to control the collectors’ lives. Here’s where the museums get their treasures. Michael Gross gives the “inside look” at the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and huge collections from around the world.

If you are looking for original art as part of your life, I hope you will check out my new website with galleries of over 20 works at

Happy travels and keep looking for that art piece you just have to own. Who knows, maybe your treasure collection might be in some museums prized exhibition.

Nautilus, 24x24, acrylic on canvas, currently exhibit at
Clark Hill Law Firm - Lansing Michigan

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grandchildren Artists

Buck Lake  14x11  oil on canvas
Simon came to visit yesterday. He pulled off his preschool backpack for us to find his important papers: his morning art production. The grandparents offered sincere oo’s and ah’s. He gave us a pleased smile and went on with his three year old life of eating healthy snacks prepared by his grandmother.

Three year old children are amazing, filled with confidence and curiosity.  Simon is my youngest grandson. He came confidently into the studio as I was putting the finishing touches on a painting. He watched for a few seconds and asked if I needed some help. Looking down at this three foot tall child my thoughts zipped to many years ago watching my own father as he painted. I must have been annoying because I was soon on dad’s lap putting paint on his canvas.

Helene's Cosmos  20x16  watercolor
On Simon's visit, I was so involved in the finishing touches of my studio painting that I was surprised by the little voice in another room telling his grandmother, “I guess grandpa doesn't need my help.” Next time the little one pops in for a visit we will paint together for sure. 

Enjoy the little things,

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Picasso Answers: What Is It?

       Viewing art is an art itself. When we go to a museum or gallery to view the works, we want to see and feel a new view of our world and be empowered and nourished to go out and accomplish our goals. Or if we just want to feel good by being in a pleasant environment, a few hours walking through the galleries can bring us to a pleasant state of mind. We become involved with the artists history, the why and how and when the art pieces were created and the influences that sparked the creative outcome.
Spring Marsh Song, 36x36  acrylic on canvas
       A few days ago we were exchanging some paintings at a medical venue when a fellow artist said, “Joel, I think I know what the painting is, tulips.” She was very pleased with her guess because the title of the painting included spring, Spring Marsh Song. The pleasant moments from my childhood often emerge in a mystical surprise as the marshes near my family home slips into a painting. The spring sounds of  red winged black bird songs used to leave a lasting imprint that appears in a painting many years later. 
       Picasso said, "Everyone wants to understand painting. Why don’t they try to understand the song of the birds? Why do they love the night, a flower, everything that which surrounds man, without attempting to understand them?”
       Artists call upon their environments that have made an influence on their subliminal levels which can influence the creative outcome. When the viewer places tulips in her question, “what is the painting all about” she makes a personal contact with the painting and the artist.

       This drive to understand a painting by relating it to images that seem “real” in our personal history helps viewers to feel in control of the sometimes abstract world around us.  The artist expressing sights and sensations abstractly will continue to respond creatively from floods of input as in a spring walk in a very busy marsh. 
What is it?  (see below)
Go to a museum or gallery this month. Keep on viewing art.
(We call it Earth Cycle, 18x24, acrylic on linen)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Starting Again in 2015

       Well, what can I say? Another eventful year has closed with all joys and sorrows that fill our lives. These events keep us happy and bring us smiles that are the stuff of life making the holiday seasons worth the enormous effort. Looking back over the challenges and accomplishments this season we charged in full bore ahead and learned the business of art on the cutting edge.

       One of the events new to us involved the Billboard Project: "Art in the Sky", a partnership of the Greater Lansing Arts Council and AdamsOutdoor Advertising to promote the thriving arts culture in Mid-Michigan. Six local artists were selected for the new round of billboards displaying their art. I am grateful to be one of the six with my painting, Bold Beach, exhibited on Interstate 69 west of the Owosso/Perry exit (between Flint and Lansing).
Bold Beach by Joel F. Ellis, one of six works selected for the Art in the Sky Project from Greater Lansing Arts Council

       Goodall Gallery of Kentucky serves a number of clients throughout the country. In a search for one of those clients requesting specific art from various states, owner Rhonda Goodall went to the Mid-Michigan Art Guild website which led to a contact with me. Ultimately the contact led to a welcomed sale for us at the end of the year, Gold Sands, a 30 x 40 acrylic, and shipment of the painting for Pittsburgh’s PNC Tower.
Gold Sands, 30x40 acrylic on canvas, sold to represent Michigan in  States' display in Pennsylvania

       Also at the end of the year, one of my paintings, Purple Pair was selected to join other Michigan artists to honor a special plant from the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens greenhouse. The 80-year old American Agave plant grew so tall that the ceiling glass had to be removed from the greenhouse. The Agave blooming happens just once before the plant dies. This exquisite art exhibit at the historic Rackham Hall was a great honor for me to be included. The exhibit was curated by Chelsea River Gallery.
Purple Pair, 20x24 acrylic on linen, selected by Chelsea River Gallery for University of Michigan display.

       Many art venues will soon be coming up and new contacts made and yes even winter snows will return as another painting season begins and a renewed push into creative adventures.

       At one of the open houses for an art showing, I had an impassioned discussion about the arts and how we are all affected by the beauty in our environments. Michigan is a main backdrop for inspiration.  We all agreed that mid-Michigan has a rich and encouraging artist community in part because of the environment of higher education, many artist groups and many art venues. We also agreed that this area is as rich and prolific as the well-documented historically productive arts communities around the world.
Third Coast View, 30x40 acrylic, first painting by Joel F. Ellis in the new year, 2015 ,
is full of texture reflecting dune country along Michigan's coastal waters

       A good friend once said, “Bloom where you are planted.” She was so right about the blooming part. We all have to take from our experiences and environments and make the art we have been called to make.

       Wishing you and your friends and family a happy and productive new year full of beauty enriched by your environments.