Art quotes

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

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Keeping an Artist's Journal

Never be without your little pad. - Leonardo DaVinci

(Including samples of Joel Ellis art

Ok, I confess I do keep a journal. Well the thing keeps me on track in those moments of low inspiration. The goal is to record the activities of this very unusual journey through the creative process and yes, it is a big plus helping with the business part too.

Ephemeral Moment, sold at Shiawassee Art Center 

Everyone who uses a journal develops their own way  and purpose. Is it a record of the works produced or is it a commentary of the Times influencing the work? Working under the restrictions of a world-wide pandemic, for instance, may call for a lot of comments.  For me the art journal is a piece of evolution regarding my art, consequently, it has also been an ongoing process with many comments like, “darn, why didn’t I think of that sooner?’’ Each artist will develop their own style based on purpose. Here’s something to think about - along the way the journal itself may also be collected as art.

Autumn Dune Grasses, expressionism
Earth Cycle, an exercise in abstract

Here are some points for a record keeping journal that also turns into a business record.

  •             Create an art journal in a notebook that has a wide left hand margin to record several items, dated, about that piece of work. The entry on the more spacious right hand side should include a description and rough sketch of the piece.
  •             Develop an inventory numbering system for each piece of art - place it on the back of the actual work and in the left margin of the dated journal entry. 
  •             With the inventory #, dimensions, medium, here’s  the fun part - when sold place a big $ sign under the date of entry, and any other fun information on that entry such as where it was shown, when, and if known who purchased the piece.
  •             The commentary parts of my journals, based on what is going on around me or notes of the Times, are also dated and blended into the record keeping part. I also note quotes or books I have read for future reference. This works for me, but like I said, everyone has their own way. 

The last few months I have been recording world events affecting me that give future viewers a look into the environment the paintings were created. These journals become a time capsule for future generations.

Thank you for visiting the Joel Ellis Art blog. Best wishes in the coming season to you and those you love.


Helene's Cosmos, water color on paper

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Epiphany of Three Elements

        I was asked recently what goes through my mind as I work on a painting. If the working environment is conducive to the task, the elements of working a painting seamlessly usually come together without great effort. For me, there is always a tug of war with the natural flow of where the painting seems to magically appear or when it seems to fight back. The fight back experience makes the finished product sweeter. We artists like to call this the learning curve. For me the learning is ongoing and is intensified with the unusual struggle that sometimes makes the successfully completed painting even more rewarding.

        But what is going through my mind?  Why do I put myself through this arduous experience … why was I not a potter or maybe a blacksmith?

       The important elements that I want to be present at each creation are the basic factors that make a painting “work”. These are the times to step back, sip some tea and review the basic elements of a good painting. Are they here in this painting, I ask, and do they work together to tell the story that was intended? One last filter that helps me review the nearly finished painting include a check of three painting elements:     simplify, intensify, and unify.

       Recent works still challenge that process. I love dunes and paint a lot of them. Once in awhile a painting of these fine physical gifts of nature rises above (pun intended) other painterly expressions. Strait Ahead, was finished a few days ago, completed in two long sessions. It began simply – a horizon meeting a summer sky. But then the work began to intensify its surroundings. Using the pallet knife, brushes, fingers, I felt exuberant with the motions. Finally I knew I had to unify the elements before me – clouds, grasses, sand path. Three simple measures led me to a comforting satisfaction.  

As Joseph Campbell said,
Following your ‘bliss’, As much as you can, do what you love. (The Art of Fine Art).

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

An Artist's Life in the Pandemic

       It has been a long time and much has transpired since the last blog post in February. We all have experienced seismic changes in our lives. The daily routines that glue our lives together have been severed and new ones put into place that we have started calling the new normal. I will say that making good use of time we tackled the old inventory records with lots of cross referencing from very early works to the most recent paintings. We are now able to look at a clean slate of years of painting and know the history of  this pleasant job.

       Last year was our most rewarding and affirming art year with many sales and positive connections. Thanks to all the wonderful folks sharing positive feedback for my work. As this year unfolds there are early indications of continued interest in the arts with venues making plans for new and interesting openings, though most for 2021.

       The paintings that I have been working on have a sense of darkness that goes against my personal reason for making art, so I take a deep breath turn off the media and get a sun brewed ice tea to face the darkness with courage and do what painters do… paint.

Again, thank you friends and patrons, here are a few of the new pieces from the new life.  Joel

Wash Away   16x20   oil on linen

Pine Bay  20x16   oil on linen
Forest Dreams   30x24   acrylic on linen
Flowers on the Wall  12x16    acrylic on linen

Friday, February 28, 2020

Omwake and The Fine Art of Art

       Invites to early spring art shows are being fulfilled. The studio is beginning to feel like home. And a few paintings are completed. To get to this point meant a few rough times, the paintings just did not have a smooth natural flow. Smooth easy painting times are such a gift. When the effort to paint is difficult, we artists have our own methods to get back in the groove.

Wet Beach   20x24   oil on canvas
       When I am having difficulty, I go to my books the ones that have a pleasant feel about making art. A short visit usually gets the paint flowing easier. In my library I found a book previously purchased, but I had not given it the time to pursue. With three unfinished paintings, now was the time. As I began to read the first several pages I realized this author has a lot to give to those of us trying to produce satisfactory art. A little more into the book and I recognized that through content, research, but mostly through experience this author really knows the soul of the artists. In The Art of Fine Art, Essays, and Guiding Lights After 50 Years of Work the author, Eo Omwake, puts into words what the artist feels. He explains the complex world of those who create art in an approach that is insightful and humorous,  holding  the reader’s attention sometimes causing noisy outbursts of agreement and laughter.
       For me knowing when a painting is finished is more difficult than getting started. In one of Eo Omwake later sections of his book he presents a discussion titled Finishing. My university oil painting professor told me it takes two people to complete a painting, one to do the painting and one to tell you when to stop. When a painting feels like it is coming to conclusion I have to step back, take a deep breath, look away, get a sip of tea and slowly turn around for a quick sneak peek. If I don’t get a “hell yeah!”,  then the process has to be revisited until the effort has been completed and a welcome sense of satisfaction confirms - that was fun!
                   Post script – For artists The  Art of Fine Art….  is a book to treasure and revisit often. Check it out wherever and however you buy books.

Autumn Embrace   16x20   acrylic on canvas
Getting back to it now, with successful wishes for your making and enjoying art, Joel

Monday, January 6, 2020

Do What You Love!

       It has been a long and fun holiday season with all the cookies and loved ones visiting but it’s about time to get back to work. The new studio is almost functioning with just a few glitches that will be worked out by use.

Selected for the permanent collection in
Shiawassee Art Center
Blue Dune
       The holiday art shows will be coming down this first month of 2020 and new paintings delivered to start out the New Year. We are happy to announce that one of our new favorite shore paintings, Blue Dune, has been selected to be in the permanent collection of Shiawassee Art Center, Owosso Michigan. A big thanks to the hard working folks at SAC who continue to make art experiences possible in a beautiful setting for artists and art lovers in lower Michigan.

       We also send special thanks for all the support and encouragement throughout the very unusual 2019. May you all be safe and prosperous in the new year. Now back to work in the studio! As my wife’s mother often encouraged me, “Do what you love.”

Back to work! at Joel F. Ellis Art