MEET THE ARTIST: Grace Ellen
Contemporary landscape paintings, inspired by the diverse British countryside and coast. I work in acrylics and oils. Working from a photographic background, I put a great amount of thought into my compositions, I aim to create immersive scenes which draw in the viewer and put them in my shoes.
What is your background and where are you from?
Hi, I’m Grace Ellen. I grew up in beautiful Surrey and before becoming an artist I studied Animal Behaviour at The University of Exeter. Learning about many important conservation projects during my studies is what initially encouraged me to look more closely at the landscape around me and pick up my brushes!
How do you classify your paintings and what medium do you use?
My paintings are contemporary landscapes which explore the diverse British countryside and coastline. I mainly work in acrylics, combined with a range of texture mediums, inks and sprays to enrich each scene with depth and a tactile quality.
Where is your studio, what’s it like and do you have any rituals?
I work from my home studio, it has paint splattered walls and is a place of constant activity. For large pieces I mostly use my standing easel as I regularly step back to check in with the image as a whole. I also use my floor space to lie canvases flat when dripping and pouring paint in the early stages. This sometimes leads to ‘happy accidents’ which can shape the overall composition in new and exciting ways. Another important space is my drying wall, on which I display my smaller panels alongside one another as they evolve. I find it useful to see common themes emerging and create small collections of work from them.
What challenges have you faced in the art world?
When I first began my career I felt pressure to develop a signature style which would make my work instantly recognisable. Now, having been painting professionally for five years, I have realised that this is something which happens organically and almost without you noticing.
What is the main message of your work, what does it aim to say?
My paintings are a visual expression of my experiences in nature. I aim to both capture the geographical features of the landscape as well as my own emotional response to each place.
Is there a common reaction to your work?
Viewers have often commented that they enjoy the feeling of “being there” when looking at my work. I aim to paint from an eye-level perspective which is inviting to the viewer; numerous clients have chosen pieces which make them feel like they could “step into the painting”.
What are your inspirations and influences?
I am fascinated by the power of nature and the differing effects it has on us. I love the feeling of being tiny, stood on a blustery clifftop, as much as the soothing effect of walking beside a river. Spending time out in nature is very healing, especially in a world where we are surrounded by screens. I think it’s a bit of an escape for me and the people who enjoy my work!
Who would you say are your favourite contemporary artists?
I tend to most enjoy work which is a mystery to me in how it was created. I enjoy Olafu Eliasson’s work, which too finds its inspiration in nature. His ability to create an immersive experience is inspirational. I also greatly admire Kurt Jackson, whose paintings are highly expressive and yet still take a naturalistic approach. His background in zoology means his work is enriched with a knowledge of the plants and animals in the landscape and his note taking often becomes part of the artwork itself, such as the bird calls he hears or the precise weather conditions.
How have you developed since you first started exhibiting your paintings?
I am much more comfortable working on a larger scale than when I first began showing my work, perhaps because I now have the studio space to enable it but also because I am not so concerned about making mistakes! I believe that working outside of my comfort zone is the best way to develop and evolve as an artist.
What do you have planned for Sussex Art Fair?
I’m bringing a brand new collection of glittering and sometimes turbulent seascapes, some local and some from further afield, as well as colourful summer scenes, calming rivers and a meadow or two.
What are your plans for 2020 and beyond?
2019 has been an exciting year in which I have started exhibiting work in three lovely galleries and sent work as far as Los Angeles. I’m hopeful my work will get to travel even further in 2020! Painting-wise I’m planning trips to a host of new locations (well, new to me) including Pembrokeshire in Wales and the Isle of Skye in Scotland.