Every piece of jewelry is a small scale work of art worn on the body. Each of the jewelry artists at Artistic Portland has a different vision, carefully crafted and unique. Jewelry from Susan Hunter features striking metalwork, while pieces of Beth Jones are delicate and romantic. June Martin’s signature mosaics are both geometric and subtly colored, while Petra Woodworth imaginatively combines found objects with metals and stones. My work in polymer clay is highly patterned and brightly pigmented, falling perhaps into the category of “statement” jewelry.
“Statement” jewelry necklaces are one-of-a-kind, attention-grabbing pieces which are often large, colorful and sometimes asymmetrical. Glittery or tribal, statement pieces transform that little black garment into a canvas. Polymer clay is especially well adapted to making statement jewelry because it is a great chameleon. Lightweight and inexpensive, it can be carved, twisted, painted or sculpted into infinite shapes, patterns and colors. Polymer jewelry artists have discovered a myriad of approaches.
My partner at our teaching studio, ViaArtistica , Maggie Maggio, is an architect, so perhaps it not surprising that she is known for exploring and expanding the structural possibilities of polymer clay. Maggie pinches and twists polymer to create sinuous neckpieces. The model shown here is from a series she has called “Octopi”. Maggie’s wow factor comes from complex swirls woven into a dramatic neck piece. One can fully imagine these pieces on the runway.
Another local Portland colleague, Wendy Wallin Malinow, has a completely different approach to making dazzling jewelry with polymer clay. A metalsmith, illustrator and sculptor, Wendy transforms polymer clay into mysterious fantasy pods, bones and imaginative unearthly creatures. Her imagination astounds! Wendy’s panache comes from vibrant colors and surprising shapes that range from naturalistic birds to gothic skulls. Her necklaces are eye-catching collectors’ pieces, which are also wearable
Kathleen Dustin’s calls her work “Wearable objets d’art” and her website showcases several collections of her polymer jewelry and handbags. Trained as a ceramicist, Kathleen has explored several properties of polymer, including translucency and the imitative potential of the clay. Here she pushes the boundaries of texture in her Tribal Bead series with lush mark-making, carving and the complex layers of pigment which create her distinctive palette, earning her a place in many galleries and museum collections.
My own work takes advantage of the lightweight nature and malleability of polymer. I love to form flat polymer into 3 dimensional petals, disks and pods. Most of all I love creating and juxtaposing patterns, a bit like a collage artist or a quilter. By mixing the primary colors of polymer clay I can create virtually any color I want. The complexity of millefiori cane work adds rich patterns to the mix. Nothing makes me happier than creating a palette, then making a pile of canes on my studio table ready to create veneers. I invite you to come see my polymer clay jewelry at Artistic Portland!
This week’s blog is written by Carl Sandeen of Kristi Usher Fine Art. Carl’s wife Kristi is a bronze sculptor of western themes as well as a two-dimensional artist with oil, pencil and ink. Kristi's work is known for realism and projects her intimate knowledge of horses, dogs and the cowboy way of life.
Attending an event at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Otis, Oregon I was enjoying the presentations of several artists. Sitka Center, as part of its mission, provides artist residencies; and this was the conclusion when artists talk about what they have accomplished during their stay on secluded Cascade Head. Kindra Crick was one of the presenters. Her last name intrigued me as she introduced herself as a molecular biologist, and artist, who loved science but was also inspired by her grandmother to pursue art. As Kindra began clicking through her PowerPoint slides, she soon mentioned that her grandfather, Francis Crick, was the Nobel winner who had worked on the structure of DNA. And his artist wife, Odile, first drew the DNA double helix. To this day, Odile Crick's artistic concept of DNA still visually represents DNA's molecular structure.
Smitten by Kindra's story, I listened intently as she concluded her presentation focusing on a neuroscience inspired artwork installation, in collaboration with U of O Health Sciences University, called Cerebral Wilderness. She, as was her grandmother, is using art to promote the understanding of science. Kindra is often quoted as saying, "Artwork gives visual expression to the wonder and process of scientific inquiry and discovery."
And it's not an isolated concept. Quoting Stanford University, "There is growing interest in the intersection of art and science, whether from artists adapting technology to suit their visions or from scientists and engineers seeking to explain various visual effects. To take advantage of possible creative sparks at the art/science interface, it is necessary for fuzzies and techies to have some knowledge of the language used by the other side. This interface will be explored through examining approaches used by an artist and an engineer in the context of the materials science of cultural objects."
So now I look for opportunities to discover and contemplate these ideas and understand them better. Recently at a Fishtrap event exploring Native American, environmental and cultural topics at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon, the topic of art and science intersecting came up often. At Artistic Portland I look around at works on display, talk to folks browsing in the store; and have a growing sense that art, my friends creating artwork, can through their creative efforts help change the world.
Be sure to visit Artistic Portland to see Kristi Usher's beautiful fine art sculptures! We are open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday from noon until 5 pm.
Last week, we interviewed one of our fiber artists here at Artistic Portland. This week we're giving you the perspective of Jason Winslow of Cool to Me, who joined the Co-op in December 0f 2018. Jason is a local artist who creates imaginative sculptures out of various materials.
How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the Co-op?
I joined AP in December of last year. I am drawn to the idea of a group collaborating to make everyone's goals a reality. It follows that when I started looking for a way to market my sculptures, I specifically began looking for a Co-op. Artistic Portland was in particular appealing for the wide variety of artistic expression represented. I enjoy being influenced by the different styles and personalities that are represented. I also feel that the customers' experience is enhanced with that variety. Many members use the similar materials as I do- metal, glass, text, paper etc. - but we all produce wildly different results. The juxtaposition of those results enhances the appreciation for each artist's voice.
What is your background?
I have been a live entertainment technician since the mid -1980s. I predominately work in lighting and scenic construction for plays and dance. I began assembling sculptures in late 2017.
Where do you create?
I actually find this to be a complex question. The easy answer is in my home. I have creative assembly spaces in my basement and garage. The text is composed on my computer. But the inspiration/planning/creationeering happens inside my head wherever I am at the moment. Driving, showering, shopping, working, etc. Sometimes a creature will be inspired by a piece of junk I find in the corner of a deconstruction shop, or at IKEA. Sometimes I wake up with a solution to an assembly problem in my mind or see a piece of random Portland ingenuity that sparks new solutions. Other times a friend or colleague will make a suggestion that leads down a rabbit-hole of creation.
What motivates/inspires your work?
My creatures often spring out of my subconscious without my permission. Most of the time, I don't realize what emotional/intellectual nugget was inspiring the work until a fair bit into the process. Eventually, I realize "Oh! This was my back-brain gnawing on global warming or social policy or the phone bill."
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
It depends on which part of the process I'm in. I'm fortunate to have a life partner who will give honest feedback while I'm writing/creating the text portion. I like to do the wiring and soldering while watching Netflix. While assembling, I try to incorporate materials in a way I haven't before to avoid overusing any one process or solution. Shopping for materials is a sort of creative routine because the new materials make me contemplate new solutions or new projects.
What is your favorite piece you have ever created?
In truth, I tend to be most excited by whatever sculpture I'm currently working on. The act of creating brings a level of stimulation and engagement that doesn't exist after the piece is finished.
What do you like to do when you are not creating?
I have another career that keeps me busy. Other than that I'm a home body. I love having dinner with my partner or watching Netflix together. Depending on my mood, computer games and/or social media can give the brain a rest.
This week's blog is brought to you by fiber arts artist and soap maker, Karin Kaufmann of Nadelwerk. Karin interviewed fiber arts artist Alycia Allen Tolmach of Alyen Creations.
How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the
I joined Artistic Portland in March 2018, after Susan Hunter of Bodie Design Studio talked to me at the Southeast Area Art Walk and invited me to submit my work to the jury, which just happened to be the next evening! I jumped at the chance, because aside from one or two shows a year, my quilts were languishing in a closet. To have a place where my work would be seen every day of the year, and to get to work in the gallery and to gain an instant community of new artist friends and to be part of this group effort was an incredible gift. It was something I needed, but I wasn’t even aware it existed. To be invited was such an honor!
What’s your background?
I have a degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. I retired from journalism in 1992, leaving the copy desk at the Philadelphia Inquirer to marry Andrew and follow him to Portland.
Why do you do what you do?
When I was young, I wanted to take art lessons, like my older sister did. When I got old enough, we moved, and I never got the chance after that. The only thing I ever really drew was horses, and only in profile, and only the left side!
What would you say was your “ah ha” moment in going from thought to passion to actually starting your business?
Many of my friends on the copy desk at the Inquirer were quilters, but I resisted the urge, because of the mess, the time and the obsession with fabric. But when Andrew’s daddy was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, something just said, “Make him a quilt.” So I went home with one of my girlfriends after work, and she helped me design a block, and the next morning, I went to a fabric shop, where I heard someone exclaim, “I saw this fabric in a dream last night!” (Did I mention obsession?) Anyway, I showed her my quilt block and the colors I was using, and she told me to make sure to use different scales of patterns, so the fabrics wouldn’t blend into a muddy mess. (She probably saved me a year’s worth of bad quilts, with that one piece of advice.) When Andrew came back from his folks’ house, and I began to iron my first piece of fabric for his daddy’s quilt, I blurted out, “I think I just might be good at this.” I had to buy a machine and teach myself how to sew to make that quilt. I still can’t sew clothing! A couple of years later, when I retired from the paper, (at 30) I decided to start Alyen Creations, which is a name I came up with as a 9-year-old, from my name, ALYcia allEN. It’s pronounced Alien, like a Martian….
Where do you create?
I am fortunate to have a studio in my home, with 25 years of fabric and a pin-able wall to design my quilts on, a big cutting table and 2 Bernina 1090 sewing machines.
What motivates/inspires your work?
I make primarily landscape art quilts, based on photos from our travels, mostly in Europe and the Northwest. While I know I would be a lousy painter, somehow working with fabric allows me to convey the sense of places that I love. I also love it when people are drawn to touch my quilts. I know I have succeeded when someone wants to pet my work. That connection is such a thrill!
Who inspired you if anyone?
In 1992, I invested in a 200-pound bale of Vintage Japanese Kimonos with my best friend, and I was hooked. I have probably owned 1,500 kimonos since then. The fabric in each kimono is unique; the kimonos were hand-sewn and home-made in the 1940s-1960s. It takes an hour to take one apart. The fabrics often involve two or three design techniques, including jacquard weaving, kasuri dyeing, block printing, hand-dyeing, brocade, metallic and lacquered threads, shibori dyeing, resist painting, batik, roh weaves, gauze weaves – I could go on and on. The closer you look, the more you see in Japanese fabric design, and that inspires me to create art that pulls you in and rewards a closer look.
Tell us how you choose your supplies, material, you use in your Art?
For my collage quilts, Origami Kimono Ornaments, Origami Obi Cards, and some runners/hangings, I pull from my palette of several thousand yards of commercial cottons. However, for my landscape art quilts, I use almost exclusively Japanese kimono fabrics. My basement is full of kimonos, and I have taken apart more than a thousand. I sell to other fiber artists what I can’t use.
Did anyone ever tell you couldn’t do it?
No, but every time I walk into the studio, I ask myself if I still can! Some days the answer is yes, and some days it seems like no, but when I push past the doubt, the answer is a resounding YES, and that is when I remember how happy it makes me to create my quilts.
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
What is the most difficult thing about making your Art?
Starting. I am constantly starting, it seems, and I lose so much ground. I work in spurts, and sometimes they last for months, but then life gets in the way, and it can be months or sometimes years (like if we go on sabbatical to another country) and then when I restart, I have to relearn a lot of the techniques I devised, or re-solve design issues I forgot I had solved! It’s very frustrating, and sometimes it is easier not to start again! But that is one reason I was so eager to join Artistic Portland. Now, every day, art is a priority, in one form or another, be it the studio, working in the gallery, or taking on responsibilities to help run the cooperative, or brainstorming with other members about issues they have, that I have, or the gallery has. Thanks to Katrina, I am now having giclee prints made of my quilts. I never in a million years would have thought of doing that, but to her, it was obvious. Having others help me see what is outside my own little blinkered box, (to mix a metaphor) is incredible.
Do you have other staff, partners etc.?
Nope, just me.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever created?
A quilt of Saint Pere de Rodes in northern Catalunya on the Spanish Mediterranean. It is a ruined monastery, and the man who bought the quilt from me said that he was going to hang it right in front of his recliner, so that he could look at it all the time.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new artistic skill, what would it be?
The ability to master perspective!
What do you like to do when you're not creating?
I like to read real books I hold in my hand, especially old mysteries and novels from the 1920s that smell like my elementary school library in Florida!
This week's blog was written by mosaic jewelry artist June Martin of MOTH & TWIG.
I have worn many hats during my 50 (cough, cough) something years on this planet and I’ve enjoyed wearing them all. I feel humbled and happy that I’m able to make a living as an artist at this time in my life. As a young child I spent inordinate amounts of time drawing. For whatever reason, paper wasn’t readily available, most likely because we were quite poor after our father passed away suddenly, so I used to draw on the corners of the TV guide. My father was an artist and a toymaker so I guess my interest in art came from him since my mother, god rest her soul, didn’t have an artistic bone in her body!
Throughout my childhood art was an avenue to express myself. I predominantly drew people and fashion though I was also attracted to drawing houses that had fallen into disrepair as I loved the textures and sense of history. I dabbled in water color as well and I remember my middle school art teacher framing one of my pieces and hanging it in the school commons for all to see. I dreamt of growing up and being a full-time artist but my step-father, armed with good intentions and a propensity towards the practical, suggested that I learn to type and take shorthand, just in case art didn’t work out.
In college I majored in art…for a while at least. I later switched my major which resulted in two undergraduate degrees; one in psychology and the other in biological anthropology. I continued to study and practice art including screen printing. I worked a few secretarial jobs in San Francisco until I landed a job working as a production manager for a small clothing manufacturer. With my interest in fashion design this job blossomed into a career.
Life happened along the way. I was married, had a child, then I wasn’t married and found myself in the unenviable position of being a single working parent. Though I had a creative job, other artistic endeavors were put on the back burner while I busied myself with supporting my son.
Years passed, and though I was happy working in fashion, I knew that the company I was working for was being sold to a couple in Chicago. The new owners asked if I would be interested in moving to Chicago to work for them but the thought of moving my son to a different state as well as having to endure long cold winters was not appealing. I found myself out of a job after 17 years but also found myself in the position of being able to choose to do something new if I desired. Before embarking on new work adventures, I decided to take a little time to travel. My son left home for college, I was “between jobs" so off to Barcelona Spain I went! I only spent a month in Spain but it was enough to fill my soul with the beauty the city provided in the form of art and architecture. In particular, I was enthralled by the works of Antoni Gaudi.
Upon returning to San Francisco, I found that there was an excellent mosaic instructor living in the warehouse space that I also lived in. I knew I had found my niche in art. During this time I also earned an MS in counseling psychology and started working in the mental health field but I kept doing mosaic for fun. I was also dabbling in jewelry design. It was during this time that I took a class in micro- mosaic with a focus on jewelry. I found I had a knack for working small scale. I knew micro-mosaic and jewelry design was for me. I continued to work as a therapist while keeping mosaic and jewelry as a hobby. Since I don’t wear a lot of jewelry myself, I wasn’t sure what to do with all of the mosaic jewelry pieces I was making. I discovered Etsy and decided to give it a go. To my surprise, people seemed to like my jewelry. How much fun is that?! Creating art you love and then getting paid for it!
A few years passed and we (my new husband and I) moved to Portland where my son also lives. Overall, Portland has been very kind to us and what started as a hobby and side job, has turned into a full-blown thriving business. I continue to work in mental health on the side but I create art full time. Though the path was non-linear, I am back to my roots of making art. I think both my father and step-father would be proud.
This week's blog was written by polymer clay artist Laurel Swetnam of Sequels.
January inspires many of us take stock of the past year’s accomplishments and challenges, honoring cultural rituals or making resolutions to pursue new goals or do better on old ones. Growing up, my best friend’s German family always invited me to make three wishes for the new year while breaking off a piece of warm Neujahrsbrezel, a delicious sweet pretzel which symbolizes good luck. My husband’s family was a bit more dour. Honoring an Appalachian tradition - think backwoods Kentucky - my father-in-law boiled a pig’s head on New Year’s day, because hog jowl and black-eyed peas keeps you humble for the next year. When we lived in Spain we capped off very late celebrations by stuffing grapes in our mouths - the idea was to chew twelve grapes at once!
Artists seem especially attracted to the idea of new beginnings, perhaps because we’re always searching for inspiration and relishing a reset. My studio partner Kirsten Carpentier invites friends to choose and embellish their word of the year, focusing energy into a single intention.
One of my favorite bloggers, artist and bookbinder Roz Stendahl, advocates doing a little bit of everything you love on the first day of the year, sort of priming the pump with joyful activities. This year I followed Roz’ advice, practicing a Bach cello suite I’m learning on classical guitar, drawing a couple of pears, taking a walk in nearby snowy woods with a couple of happy dogs, and working on some canes for a new bowl class I’m teaching.
Personally, though, I love most of all to spend part of each new January 1 by diving into color, mixing hues and making Skinner blends, polymer clay gradients which are the basic building blocks of many of my pieces. Mixing colors is a lovely antidote to gray skies, as relaxing as meditation and a functional activity which helps me in my work. Since my polymer clay art is all about color, it’s a great way to get in the groove of new palettes and new designs. Sometimes I check out color trends like the Pantone color predictions for 2019, peruse delicious Design Seeds photos with their composite photos or take a trip though my Palettes Pinterest board. Mostly, though, I just merrily fiddle around. Here’s a pair of blends I made on January 1, 2019. These colors could be jungle leaves, Carmen Miranda flowers, or eye-popping polka dots.
Stop by Artistic Portland in a few weeks to see what they become!
This week's blog was written by visual artist Jennie O'Connor.
I first joined Artistic Portland in June over five years ago; it was the first month the co-op initially opened in the Hollywood neighborhood. I was very excited to belong to a group where I could meet like-minded friends and have a brick-and-mortar home for my paintings. I was there a year and then rejoined the store a few months after it moved to the current location on SW Taylor downtown. In total, I’ve been a member a little over 4 years.
I have been painting and drawing on and off most of my life, but became more serious after I moved from Seattle to Portland 18 years ago. I began by working in watercolor and after several years began to experiment with acrylics and collage. While I loved watercolor, making beautiful hues by mixing water with paint it began to feel a bit tedious, acrylics gave me a kind of freedom that I enjoy.
When in my creative modeI I tend toward messy whether it be in the kitchen, garden or in the studio. I have the most fun when I am slinging paint around, hopefully, getting more of it on the paper or canvas than myself, walls, and floor.
I currently work in a very small studio that I have created in my home, the size of which can be a problem given my tendency to be messy.
Inspiration comes to me in various ways, sometimes a reference photo is helpful or a scene out-side my window but most of the time I am simply inspired by the process of adding color, shape and texture to the painting surface.
I like to listen a book on tape, or podcast when painting. I find that it helps to keep my brain busy so that I can be more creative. I actually do like to start out in a somewhat ordered fashion. It’s nice to have cleared my workspace, lay out chosen paint colors, brushes, texture making tools, and perhaps collage papers, etc. However, that often changes rather rapidly when I get inspired in the process and there I am again, messy!
When I first started working in acrylics, quite by accident, I was introduced to collage. I put together my very first collage piece which has always been my favorite, it is an abstraction of my brother’s home which sits on the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Keys. I love the scene, the colors and feeling that I was able to create.
If I could magically be a different artist, I would like to be a sculptor. It would be awesome to play with and mold clay.
When I am not creating art, I can often be found in the kitchen stirring up a stew or some other equally yummy savory dish.
It’s that time of the year again. A brand new shiny year means brand new shiny New Year’s resolutions. A blank slate! I once took a poll of my friends to see who partook in this yearly ritual. To my surprise, not many of friends like to create yearly resolutions. The reasons vary from “I can’t be bothered” to “Why would I set myself up for disappointment if I don’t follow through on my resolutions?” I read somewhere that less than 10% of resolutions are kept by year’s end and there is a failure rate of 25% by the end of January. Yikes! Even though I’m equipped with this information, I still enjoy creating resolutions.
This year I thought I would create New Year’s resolutions related to my art. My 2019 mantra is to work smarter, not harder. In order to do this, I need a plan which is where resolutions come into play. Also, by putting my resolutions out there to the world so to speak, perhaps I’ll be more likely to stick to them.
In no particular order…
I created small actionable steps for each resolution to help me get and stay on track as this is the only way I will be able to achieve my goals. It’s all about knowing myself and knowing how I work (play). I’m excited to get started! I love blank slates, especially ones that are 365 days long! Are you an artist? Have you created resolutions? Feel free to share them in the comments section!
Happy New Year!
This week's blog was written by jewelry artist Marty Hogan of Marty Hogan Jewelry.
Having a space to work is critical for an artist. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. Each artist’s needs will vary depending on what they do, but it seems to me the space needs to be big enough to accommodate whatever tools and equipment the artist uses to create art, and it needs to be a space where the artist can have quiet time to think and create. The space needs to be their space. Every artist I know has a personal story about how they created space to work on their art. Here’s mine.
I’ve been making jewelry for several years and my workplace has changed and evolved with my jewelry. I started out on the kitchen table, which was a challenge. My husband gently vetoed my presence there and suggested he help me set up a little work station in the basement. We acquired some old boards which we placed on sawhorses and bed risers. This worked for tasks like designing, cutting and sanding metal, but hammering was often disastrous and ended with the table and its contents on the floor. I solved this problem when found a sturdy chopping block at a yard sale and it became my delegated hammering station. A portable table served as my bead and stone area, with all the stones organized in fishing tackle trays. They were now visible and readily available to whatever project I was working on.
As my work progressed, I bought a torch, some propane and oxygen, and I learned to solder. I soon realized that soldering in this enclosed area was dangerous and not good for my health, so I set up a table outside. This worked fine in the summer, but the cold Ashland winters bring snow, wind and freezing temperatures, so this was an uncomfortable option in the winter. I really needed a roof over my head for soldering, so I moved this area to a little shed attached to our garage. The only problem was that I had to trek through the yard, carry my work up 6 steps and walk about 100 yards down the driveway to the shed. After about a year of dealing with this inconvenience, I made the decision to move my studio to our garage.
Although I now had more space, sturdy tables and the soldering station just outside, this arrangement had a few drawbacks. The garage was some distance from our house and we lived in a forested area in the mountains above Ashland that is inhabited by a large population of black bears. We often saw them on our property and I noticed they had a nightly habit of wandering past our garage in search of an open garbage can or a carelessly tossed apple core. I bought a bear bell, bear spray and a good flashlight for my walk back and forth to the garage at night. I took precautions, made a lot of noise and looked over my shoulder a good bit when making the walk.
When I relocated to Portland about 18 months ago, I moved my work area into the garage attached to our house. My space here isn’t fancy. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter and I share it with our washer and dryer, lawn tools, wheelbarrow, stored boxes and everything else garages seem to accumulate. There is no room for cars. My husband observed these issues this summer and proposed a solution; “Let’s build a studio for you behind the house!” What? A designated jewelry studio, just for me? Unbelievable! The prospect of not having to share my space with anything or anyone else was delicious! We would design and build a 140 square foot studio in our backyard with electricity, windows, an inside soldering station, a vent to exhaust fumes, sturdy tables, enough light to see what I’m working on and ample space for my tools! Oh my!
Too good to believe? Stay tuned for the progress of Marty’s backyard studio!
This week's blog features an interview of illustrator Ellen Cranch, written by Carl Sandeen of Kristi Usher Fine Art.
Ellen Cranch will say that working with artists older than her and that have spent many years perfecting their craft inspire her. But as Artistic Portland's youngest artist, Co-op members will say they are the ones inspired by Ellen's obvious talent and the desire to spend her life creating art.
Ellen travelled back to Oregon from Calgary with a BFA focused on Character Design and Illustration from the Alberta College of Art and Design. She carried with her a wonderful body of work which includes Bear & Bunny, a children's book she wrote, illustrated and published.
Along with that, she brought to her display area at the store delightful illustrations, prints and framed pieces that customers love to linger over.
Ellen started making art at a very young age and was encouraged by her family to draw and create. She says, "I was the pre-pre-schooler who would answer questions like, ‘What color is this?' with ‘Green, you make it by mixing yellow and blue.’ "
She grew up regularly taking various art classes and was able to explore all sorts of media, though most of her work these days is either in ink or is digitally produced. The watercolor shown here was her first attempt at a children's fairytale that she wrote and illustrated many years ago.
Ellen, a Canadian, chose Alberta College of Art and Design for its excellent reputation and for its affordability to Canadian citizens. It also offered a Character Design major which was exactly what she wished to study. Ellen will comment, "It has a studio class focus and a drilling of the basics that most art schools let slide. And it's small, easily navigable and invested in incredible teachers rather than dorms or sports facilities or after school activities."
Good Grief was created early in her schooling. Ellen notes that "ACAD was fantastic at making sure we understood art and design in order to create the best and most professional work possible. The first year was 100% traditional art and drawing skill including perspective, shading, and shape design. Second year added new mediums and color focusing on graphic design, illustration, and so on. Third and fourth year was when the streams branched off. Illustration and Character Design broke away from Advertising and Graphic Design. Our projects focused on our majors and brought us to where we are today."
Currently, Ellen is finishing a coloring/doodle book which is a collaboration with her youngest sister, and has started a comic project with a friend. On top of other smaller art projects and drawings, she has worked on two larger commissions that she says, "Were really fun and turned out really well." One was a series of Selkie illustrations for a return customer and the other was illustrating a book The Discovery of Mi-A-Kon-Da for an all-girl’s camp.'"
About the future, Ellen says, "My skillset is at once narrow and impossibly wide. My drawing skill buys me more leeway than most graphic designers, but what I truly look forward to are illustration and character design projects. If I was able to join a studio to create stories and characters for any media, I would be ecstatic!"