I am not generally taken by seascapes, mainly because it is such a common subject matter, and so rarely does one find an artist who interprets the seascapes in their own original way, adding soul. Ellen manages to do this, creating a quite different feel to most, with a sense of space and light and time.
When I visited her studio in Truro, she showed me the great variety of materials that she uses in order to achieve the desired texture. I love the dryness and surface of her work, it creates a very different feel.
Ellen writes so well about her working process, I thought it best to use here words…
‘When I am pondering on a painting, or a group of them, the ideas ebb and flow. It might start with something concrete; like the colour or form, but it just as easily might be a wispy thought. Joan Miro, the Spanish painter, wrote that, “one invents nothing, it is all there.” Is it?
Where to start – with paint alone and no predetermined form… I might randomly waft paint around in a Jackson Pollock style. He suggested that his paintings were supposed to paint themselves, without planning.
Sandwiched between periods of activity are the longish times of pondering. Occasionally I will streak ahead and paint something worthy and leave it at that. Slow progress is usual for me, with lots of revisions going on. Apparently, Cezanne was said to wait fifteen minutes between brushstrokes. Anne Redpath (Scottish painter 1895-1965) was said to have put more thought than activity in
I imagine for most people creativity is helped and hindered by so much – for everyone the starting mid and end points are different. I can surround myself with drawing, photographs and teeming ideas. Working enthusiastically, later finding I have to strip everything away and just let the painting evolve. At the end of the day I could just follow Van Gogh’s words, “You learn by working. You become a painter by painting”.
Ellen Watson trained at Edinburgh and Manchester Art Colleges. She exhibits regularly in the UK.