My Modus Operandi


I’m so happy to be able to do what I love. Gratitude. I was working on my artist statement this morning and it got me thinking about my painting process. Seeing as this blogging is about sharing I thought that’s just what I’ll write about today. 

My painting usually begins with my two favorite colors. A squeeze of prussian blue and another of burnt sienna on a pristine palette. Add a big splash of odorless turpentine and I am good to go. Or at least get started. I take a small-ish brush and first mix the two colors together, then with the thinner. I use a brush to start the drawing on a pre colored canvas.  



As the composition develops I will indicate where the mid tones, darks and lights will be—essentially creating an underdeveloped tonal drawing. If the drawing is off, the whole painting does not work. Being relaxed and not in a rush to get something done will yield the best results at any stage. Also not being tied to, or having a clear idea of, a final look allows my creativity to flow.

Next, the colors that I use get organized and laid out on the palette. Rust in one section, the peeling paint separate but next to it. I mix a number of shades for both the rust and peeling paint.  Next the fun part comes: The painting. 

Sometimes it develops slowly, sometimes it happens fast. For some reason my first drawing teacher, Michael Fernandes’, words are forever present in my head, “Work the entire surface; let the whole drawing develop together so it works as a whole.” (Clearly not an exact quote seeing as it was almost two decades ago.) The colors get applied as much as possible all over the canvas, blues in the rust, reds in paint. I feel it works to hold it together, and I love paintings that are done with a free, easy intuitive response... but I was trained that way I guess. (Mine are not responsive enough for me—growth goals that will come with time.)

It is the textures that I love and so the heart of my painting is in the representation of flakey, worn, and stained erosion of the nails, wood and curling paint. Sometimes there is a mainly flat smooth white with a small bit of texture, which makes the texture stand out as a feature detail, and that makes me happy. Other times I use a pallet knife to thickly apply layers and layers of paint of varying tones and colors to create depth and interest. I use my brushes when I start to build the painting and often on the hardware to help create detail, and my pallet knife for the surrounding paint. It is this realism and the abstract together on one canvas that I like most in my hardware series. 

Last but not least is the signature. KES is etched along the bottom. I sign my paintings with my full initials of my maiden name. K is because I am named after my fathers’ mother Kathryn. I have always gone by Ellen after Kathryn’s mother, my great grandmother. She was 100 when I was born and died when I was six. I have always had an affinity for her. S is for my maiden name, Sears. This is an homage to my dad because any talent I have is a gift  from him. I want to acknowledge these beautiful souls that helped me be who I am today.

Personally I love all phases of the process. Let me know what phase of my creation resonates most with you and your work.