December 23, 2007

"Light on the Lighthouse"
oil on canvas
9" x 12"

My recent trip to Vieques proved somewhat frustrating. An unusual weather pattern produced a post-season tropical storm and for days the wind and rain made painting outdoors difficult. Feeling thwarted, I wanted to throw in my paint rag for the duration.

Fortunately I have a persistent reminder (in the form of my husband) of what really matters to me. I guess because I get cranky when I don't paint, Roo encourages me to find a way even when I feel blocked. He is, among other things, an example of what I call a structure for accountability.

A structure for accountability is someone or something I've empowered to help me remember what really matters. When people starting making New Year's resolutions, I believe they're really looking for structures for accountability. Rather than expressing a willful demand that we improve ourselves, a structure for accountability expresses our willingness to nurture changes we desire.

I've come to view certain agreements I make with myself as structures for accountability. This blog is one such agreement -- I agree to maintain this blog on a more or less regular basis. The value of this to me is that it invites me to reflect on my artistic process and to show my recent work. Knowing you're reading this keeps me on track and, I hope, informs and entertains you.

Certain kinds of goals are also structures for accountability. For instance, Roo helped me acknowledge I really did want to produce paintings while I was in the Caribbean. So I set up my easel in the bedroom and painted looking out through the ventanas (Miami blinds) onto the palms and sea beyond. And when the sun finally shone, I hightailed it to the beach with my equipment and found the dazzling scene depicted here.

I ended up making 8 new paintings that week -- not bad for one suffering from thwarty circumstances! I took several to my Vieques gallery and received a call two days ago that 4 of my paintings sold in one morning.

Successful work habits don't grow on palms trees! They're the result of creating structures for accountability that work when you don't want to. If you want to learn more about how to get this sort of thing working for you, you might want to check out the workshop I'm offering on January 6 from 2-5 p.m. here in Norcross.

"Goal-Setting for Artists - Take Your Art to the Next Level" will give you ample opportunity to look at what will help you work in more fulfilling ways. (Maybe you don't think of yourself as an artist, but what is Life, after all, than a blank canvas awaiting your mark?) There's more info about this on my website: Let me know if you're interested.

In any case, Happy New Year to you! May what you create 2008 be truly great!

December 6, 2007

Autumn Glow #2
36" x 36"
oil on canvas


Holiday Trees at Sweetgrass Wellness Center

This afternoon I planted a whole forest of trees at the Sweetgrass Wellness Center (, 483 Moreland Ave. next to Sevananda in Little Five Points, Atlanta. I hope you'll get a chance to stop by in the next few weeks to see the series of Autumn Glow paintings. There are 3 large (36" x 36") and 3 small (12" x 12") paintings. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I really really really love those trees in the back of our home!

If you haven't been there yet, Sweetgrass Wellness Center is truly sweet!. Miriam Arensberg and her chiropractor husband, Dr. Tim Tschirhart, have created an enlivening and nurturing environment.
If you go to see the paintings, I'm sure you'll enjoy the warmth of this charming day spa (and might want to stay for a stress-reducing rub).

On Saturday I'm off to Vieques for ten days. It will be a time for making new Caribbean paintings as well as tending to the ones already in Siddhia Hutchinson's gallery there. I'll be missing (not!) Atlanta holiday traffic. I hope you'll stay sane and safe.
Love, Ellie
P.S. On January 6 I'll be offering Goal-Setting for Artists: Take Your Art to a New Level at the Kudzu Art Zone in Norcross. If you or anyone you know would like more info: Pre-registration is online at
P.P.S. View the entire Autumn Glow Series and the rest of the forest at Landscape 2 gallery.

November 28, 2007

oil on canvas 12" x 12"

Woodland Garden
oil on canvas 36" x 36"

Christmas Trees

I've become obsessed with the trees I see as I look out of my studio window. I wake up in the middle of the night and imagine all those vertical trunks reaching for the stars. In the morning, I'm at the easel working on the tree painting de jour.

I'm doing both smaller studies (12" x 12") as well as larger ones (36" x 36"). I'm particularly enjoying the large format. Surrounded by these big forested canvases, I feel like I'm in the woods even when it's drizzling and wet (bring it on!) outside.

I'm using a lot of jewel tones colors for these trees. The emerald greens, deep purples and transparent reds seem to convey the atmosphere of both rainy and sunlit days. Both the large and small paintings appear to glow, the way a real tree does if you stare at it long enough.

This holiday season we're hearing a lot about giving "green" gifts. I can't imagine one greener than the ones we've already been given -- those trees growing in our own parks or back yards. Even after their shade is no longer needed, even with branches bare of autumnal color, our arboreal friends stand watch over us.

What's not to love about such grace-filled presence?

November 12, 2007

Seagrass 1
20" x 20"

Seagrass 2
20" x 20"


This week I'm taking care of my mom. She wrenched her back last week and needs a nurse. As if being 95 wasn't enough to deal with! I am constantly amazed by her grace in such trying circumstances. Even when she's in pain, she always thanks whoever assists her and offers up a little joke or a smile. Last night as I fed her pudding with a spoon, I could not help but think of how many times she'd done the same for me.

Another of mom's great gifts to me has been the experience of Martha's Vineyard. After my dad died, she bought a small Victorian cottage in the town of Oak Bluffs and lived there independently for 20 years. I wintered over one year and worked in the hospital's ICU. I now go back once or twice a year to paint.

The images above are abstract landscapes inspired by the grasses on the edge of the Tisbury Great Pond. (Roo and I swam there on a sunny day in early October of this year.) I was intrigued by the shadows cast by the grassy mounds, and the way they contrasted with the bright sand and water.

Such contrasts abound in life, of course. Particularly at this time of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the gift of my long-lived mom and all she has made possible for me. In this shadowy time of her life, she continues to bring light to all who know her.

Happy Thanksgiving!

October 29, 2007

Big Marsh
oil on canvas
40" x 40"

Now on Display at Buckhead Plaza

Downtown Buckhead is under reconstruction! While it's a bit disconcerting watching another few blocks of Old Atlanta torn down, walking there is suddenly quite easy. I still find it fun to visit the area, remembering all the things that used to be there but which still exist in memory.

I stopped by the other day to see my art on display at the Buckhead Plaza office building. There's five large abstract landscape pieces done from studies I made on Martha's Vineyard. It's really exciting to see the paintings hung in a large public space.

Earlier this year, David Nielsen of the David Gallery (365 Peachtree Hills Avenue #103, 404 661 2145) suggested I experiment with larger work. Taking his advice opened new worlds for me. Working in a large format allows me a lot of room for expression. David also introduced me to the work of Wolf Kahn. Inspired by Kahn's use of exciting color combinations, I've discovered an outlet for my lifelong passion for strong color.

I hope you'll check out the show at Buckhead Plaza (lunch at Whole Foods or Nava for a splurge) and also stop by the David Gallery to see my other more modestly-sized paintings. Give me a call and we can plan to meet there!

August 27, 2007

Perceiving the Deep
oil on canvas
30" x 30"

Out the Door

Here's the fourth in the series of Cornwall paintings. I'm posting this image even though it doesn't quite capture the true color of the original. I've fiddled with it sufficiently to say, in the words of Sally Evans's "modern day muse" Good 'n Plenty, "it's good enough and plenty good."

This will be one of three submissions to a juried show sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women, Atlanta Branch. The title of the show is "Reflections." All four of the Cornwall series -- my most ambitious painting project to day -- were created with this theme in mind, more or less.

All summer long I've focused on communicating the phenomenon of "reflection." What have I learned? A large project requires more attention, time, commitment, energy, intelligence, perseverance and hard work than a smaller one.

I am temperamentally more inclined to spontaneity and impulse, and prone to disappointment if my first efforts don't produce dazzling results. I am learning, however, that painting is as much a practice as it is a project.
Beautiful work is really wonderful, but duds also brings gifts when one's real goal is to go deeper than one has gone before. What doesn't work at first can be re-painted until it does (within the limits of my skill).

Now the work goes out the door be judged: the 30"x 30" canvases reduced in size to about 3" x 3." Will the jury see what I see in these condensed version of my labors of love? Can their opinion matter and not-matter at the same time? What if i don't get in the show? What if I do?

*Check out Sally Evans's muse-inspired fine art jewelry at
. And for more about the extraordinarily helpful Modern Day Muses, you can visit

August 22, 2007

Stone Fence Cornwall
oil on canvas
30" x 30"

Dream Painting

At last I can show you #3 in the Cornwall series. (#4 is drying on the back porch and will be featured soon!)

"Stone Fence Cornwall" went through many changes on its way to what you see here, a rock wall that separates the distant headland, sea and sky (painted in cooler colors) from the foreground path, grasses and those unusual bushes (much warmer pigments).

I wondered about the significance of this particular clover-covered stone fence which I'd captured in a photograph a couple of years ago. Did it reflect some internal defense of which I was unaware? Should I take it down, or put a gate through it? This might have allowed the viewer's eye to move more easily from the near spaces to the more remote ones. But the wall intrigued me and so I left it intact.

To me, the painting makes a statement to me about the nature of here and there, now and then. By staying on this side of the fence, in the "here and now" space, rather than traveling to a place more distant (past or future -- your choice), I get to enjoy the warmth and brilliance of what's on my path. I can also look out over the fence to see more distant realms. And, if I'm compelled to go to those others places -- it's not a prison wall after all -- it's not that hard to climb. (Oh my! have I just defended my wall?)

Some paintings are like dreams and this is one of those sort. I'd love to know what you see in "your" version of this painting. Drop a line or comment in the blogspace below.

August 6, 2007

Sunny Vista, La Hueca
16" x 20"
oil on canvas

Palomilla's Cuban Restaurant

Maybe you read Cliff Bostock's review in last week's Creative Loafing, but in case you missed it read what he had to say about the wonderful Cuban food there:

"....Palomilla's Cuban Grill House *6470 Spalding Drive, Norcross, 770-242-0078) may well ruin my taste for food at other Cuban restaurants. This inconspicuous suburban cafe opened less than a year ago in a strip shopping center. It serves the best Cuban food I have ever tasted. And believe me, that's saying a lot. Years ago, I was married to a Cuban woman whose mother was a spectacular cook, and I've spent a good bit of time in Miami."

Those who know Cliff's work as food critic for Creative Loafing know he is no pushover when it comes to the appreciation of the good things in life. That's why I was so pleased by the next paragraph in his review:

"Palomilla's is as plain inside as it is outside. Brown seems to be the predominant color. An exception to the monochromatic scheme is the art. I was pleased to see colorful landscape paintings by an old friend, Ellie Harold, who was pastor of Unity Midtown about 15 years ago."

If you're withing driving distance of Norcross, I hope you'll treat yourself to a great meal. And while you're there, check out some of my Caribbean paintings.

(When I first visited Palomilla's I too was struck by the brown-ness of it all. I contacted Elizardo -- the other Ellie -- to see if he'd like to show and sell my work on consignment. He was delighted. This arrangement makes certain I'll get some of their tasty food -- I like the hefty portions of black beans, rice and plantains that accompany the entrees -- and enjoy my own art while I eat.)

The other night I got a call from my first customer, a gentleman wishing to purchase "First Light Playa Esperanza" for his wife for their anniversary. I'd thought the only outlet for my Caribbean art was in Vieques. Who knew being wrong could feel so right!

July 17, 2007

Seaside Village
oil on canvas
30" x 30"

Big Love

Just as Bill Hendrickson is learning in his HBO Big Love experiment, I've discovered it's one thing to make a painting that works well and another thing entirely to follow it up with another (and another) that relates to it. "Seaside Village" is an attempt to create a companion to "Cornwall Harbour" which I posted on the blog several weeks ago. I've since begun a third in the series which depicts a snakey stone fence that looks at the headland in "Harbour" from a somewhat different vantage point.

To work in a series like this means creating the paintings to "converse" with one another. As I'm composing them, I'm wondering what the subjects have in common and how they are also different. Then it's up to the viewer -- you -- to figure out what they're communicating and if it makes sense.

In this series, both works are the intentionally the same size, painted with the same palette and with a similar aim of showing the effect of light on the landscape.
"Cornwall Harbour," however, gives an early morning seaward view while "Seaside Village" looks inland on a sunny afternoon. And, the locale of both subjects comprises only a few hundred yards -- even though they look in different directions, they are related by the proximity in which I find them. Sound like any relationships you know?

How will #3 fit in with the other two? Stay tuned! I'll show you as soon as I've found out.

July 3, 2007

Five O'Clock Shadows
oil on canvas
24"x 30"

Bright Light, Dark Shadows

This painting is based on a smaller study I did in Vieques in April. It was an extraordinarily bright and sunny afternoon. I certainly wanted to capture the light as it danced on the twisted branches of this sea grape, but even more interesting to me were the shadows they cast in the sand.

The passing this weekend of my mom's twin (called Chrissie-nun by her numerous nieces and nephews), has brought me into some painful, dark spaces of grief. As in the painting, however, I'm rediscovering how light and shade balance one another. They provide a much-needed contrast in life.

Opposites are a match made in heaven. Whether it's a physical phenomenon or an emotional one, when it comes to light and dark, you can't have one without the other -- though not for want of trying! It's clear, as I can hear Richard Moss so clearly say, "consciousness loves contrast." And so do paintings!

And fireworks, too! Happy 4th of July! May this painting take you to the beach if you aren't there already.

June 25, 2007

Cornwall Harbour
oil on canvas
30" x 30"

Looking to See

This painting, completed last week, was inspired by the view from the flagpole, which is where you get to if you climb up behind our family cottage in Boscastle, Cornwall. Roo came here on summer holidays when he was a child, and this is now a favorite spot of mine as well. Eventually, we'd like to live part of the year in this wild and wonderful part of the world.

I've painted the landscape abstractly, especially the colors, and the result is quite dramatic. I'm starting to understand that when I really see something, it often looks different than my mind tells me it should. This aspect of painting amazes me. The image I've painted as an abstract actually looks more real than the photograph I used for a reference.

When Roo and I had breakfast this morning in the room where the painting is hanging, it felt like we were really there. It was good to be there. The air in Boscastle is fresh, cool and clean. We have a new nephew, born there on the Solstice, bringing a sense of renewal to us all. Until we can actually visit next, that painting will be our window on that delightful world.

I trust you'll see something wondrous when you look at something you already think you know.

June 19, 2007

Atlanta Spring
12" x 16"
oil on canvas

Encouragement from Helen Keller

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."

June 18, 2007

Pond Color
30" x 30"
oil on canvas

A Perfect Painting?

When I brought "Pond Color" to show my dealer last week, David pronounced it a "perfect painting." I don't know about that, but I do like it a lot. In this painting I took a visual idea that had been developing in several other images of Martha's Vineyard ponds to a new level. Who knew it was possible to use such brilliant colors in a landscape?!

I find it liberating to give myself permission to depart from what I believe are "realistic" colors. The result, in my view, is something that actually looks super-real, or surreal. I couldn't take my eyes off this baby for days. Something about that strip of lemony-green marsh, and that juicy light-filled evergreen, and the lavender cloud bank that keeps drawing me back to look again and again.

Now the painting has a new, albeit temporary home at The David Gallery. If you're in the neighborhood (365 Peachtree Hills Ave., Atlanta), stop by and take a look for yourself. I'd love to know what happens to you when you view it.

Oh, I almost forgot .... You might also want to check out Bark for Art this Saturday evening at Timothy Tew's gallery from 7-9pm. Bark for Art is a benefit event for Atlanta Lab Rescue and Golden Retriever Rescue. $25 at the door gets you both great food and great art. I've donated a painting for the silent auction so I hope you'll stop by and support a good cause. The David Gallery will also be open during the event so you can double your viewing pleasure. For more info, visit

June 10, 2007

Pine Lake Bench
oil on canvas
16" x 20"

To Value Art is To Live With It

Once I've finished a painting, it sometimes seems to sit there asking to be seen by someone other than me. After I've shown what I've done to my husband (who usually can suggest a few improvements) and my mother (who marvels at everything she sees), I naturally look for ways for others to enjoy the work.

The audience, after all, is the reason to paint, isn't it? I'm not the only artist who wrestles with how to get their paintings into the public eye and, ideally, into the marketplace. If someone will buy the work, we reason, it must have been worth painting.

Unfortunately, if the painting isn't gobbled up by an eager collector, some will conclude that it must not have been worth the effort to begin with. If they are prolific painters, they may resent the growing body of work that sits stacked in a dark corner, and, in extreme cases, stop making new art. Some actually avoid the discomfort of unsold work by burning their paintings in huge purpose-built bonfires. (Note: I almost burned the canvas that "Pine Lake Bench" above was painted on -- what a waste!)

As I am one of those painters who often makes several paintings in a week, I've also had to reckon with the disposition of an accumulating stack of painted canvas. In part, this blog is one way of solving the problem. If you're reading this, you've probably seen the image of one of my paintings I've posted alongside. If so, I've perhaps accomplished part of my aim -- to serve the impulse that inspired me to paint in the first place. If not, there must have been some other value to the work than that you behold it!

In the past week, I've been one of millions who view the work of other artists online. For the most part I've spent less than 30 seconds looking at any given image. Sadly, I can hardly call this activity art "appreciation." The valuing of art (or anything else for that matter!) requires more than a quick glance (or even the recommendation of an "expert")-- true appreciation takes a committed relationship, more like a marriage, than a cheap thrill or one-night stand.

For example, a painting I bought in Vieques several years ago cost me $1400. That's the price for which the artist, Alec Moseley, had decided he'd be willing to let it go for, the one that assured him his efforts would be valued. Because I'd fallen in love with his image of a sunny Vieques hillside, I was willing to pay the price to bring it home forever.

I'm so glad I did -- it's been worth every cent! I find something to enjoy about it every time I look at it, often something I haven't seen before. And, each time I look at Alec's work, I get a great energetic hit of his great passion for painting -- all of this without having to travel to Puerto Rico.

I receive something from every piece of art, including my own, that I sit with over time. From the beauty of the colors and composition to the pleasure of seeing through the painting into another time and place, I'm find I'm actually quite content to enjoy my paintings for as long they are with me. Then, when someone else falls in love and commits to, i.e. pays for, a live-in relationship with it, I'm really ready to let it go to a new home, where it will be cherished by others in months and years to come.

Art dealers often let prospective buyers take a painting home on approval. While not always practical, when it is, it's a great way to take the step of courting a new piece of art before making a purchase. In that spirit, if you see an image ofthat you're drawn to, I'd be glad to make arrangements with you to bring one of my paintings into your home. Just let me know by replying to this post. If you're not ready for a deeper commitment (yet), please feel free to flirt with whatever catches your eye in the moment!

June 4, 2007

Blue Ridge Vista
oil on linen
12" x 16"

A few weeks ago I felt a strong urge to paint from a high place so I could see distant places. (There are times, once the trees have leafed, when where I live feels like a prison of green!) Unable to think of any reason not to go -- how I can avoid my bliss -- I threw my painting gear in the back of my car and headed to North Carolina.

I'd thought to go to a spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway near a backpacking trail I'd used a long time ago. When I arrived, however, the place was shrouded in dark cloud cover. Still, I painted, happy to be in the cool, fresh air.

The next day was much brighter. I set out for the Parkway once again as I would for the next three days. As I drove up and down looking for painting places, I stopped repeatedly at one particular overlook. There was a budding tree that grabbed my attention as well as purple mountains rolling off to the horizon. I wasn't until I was headed home that I submitted to my desire to paint the scene, the one depicted above in Blue Ridge Vista. I felt complete.

The impulse to paint in high places derives perhaps from an intuition that, from time to time, it is good to get above it all. Some find transcendence an escape. For me it's a touchstone with Reality, a place to know that in the Big Picture, it's all already alright. Before I was a painter, meditation served a similar purpose. Now, I am able to produce an image from that space of Being and bring it back down to where things seem more easily obscured. As you can see, I've got a great job!

June 3, 2007

Juicy Fruit
oil on canvas
8" x 10"
$420 unframed

This morning I visited my tomato patch for the first time in two weeks. When I left for a recent painting trip to Martha's Vineyard, the plants were barely a foot tall. Now they're three or more times that size with bunches of flowers and baby tomatoes.

Things grow even in my absence -- a good thing since I'm away a lot. Last June, sorry to be leaving home just as the tomatoes were coming in, I tucked a couple in my suitcase and let them ripen in the Puerto Rican sun. Then, I painted the biggest one (seen above in "Juicy Fruit") and ate it.

I realize, though, that even when I'm "here," I'm prone to stressful thoughts of hyper-responsibility that remove me from present reality. It's true that I must do my part in any endeavor. But, no matter how hard I try, I cannot make something grow. Everything, it seems, has a life and timing of its own.

What's true for garden vegetables seems to apply to any creative process. It's okay to take a break and simply watch what you've planted bear its juicy fruit. And, then, if you're so inclined, paint its picture.

June 2, 2007

Springtime Grays
oil on canvas
9" x 12"
$560 unframed

A friend commented recently that I'm not much fun anymore -- all I want to do is paint. Not true, I replied, there's nothing more fun to me than painting. And, really, painting is more than simple fun. This is no hobby. Art is a way of life.

In the four years I've been painting my way of being in the world has changed significantly. I see things differently. Well, not just differently. I actually see more now than I used to. No longer content to simply go someplace, I find myself composing a picture wherever I go. I struggle to identify the shade of blue-green-gray I'd use to render distant tree-covered hills, not as before when my angst would be to figure out the meaning of life.

I'd rather be painting than reading or meditating or discussing the way of things. Painting is like pigment itself -- the thick of Life. Give me a brush and I'll show you how the present moment looks to me.
My husband remarks that living with me has allowed him to witness the evolution of an artist firsthand. He married a Unity minister and now he's got someone who goes a bit nutty if away from her easel for more than a day.

I know there are a lot of people who consider painting to be a hobby, and view me as another middle-aging woman filling up the hours of a vacant early retirement. But few today have the luxury (or, honestly, the desire) for merely dabbling in "the arts." Certainly, I don't. I want not only to make art for my own enjoyment but also for for my work to seen by others, subjected to their critical eye, and valued in the marketplace. In other words, even though I'm 55, I am not a hobbyist but a budding professional, what's called in the art world an "emerging artist."

If you're someone who's always thought artists were another breed of humanity, you might find it interesting to realize that ordinary people who didn't draw a lot when they were little, or show a particular aptitude for art, do in fact turn out to be artists. (I was an R.N. for many years before my ordination.) You might discover that you who love watching other people make art, may also long to do art yourself. Maybe you'll be inspired by my words to splash some paint on a canvas one day. In any case, I feel called to share my experience of waking up mid-life to a new vocation, and to show you the fruits of my labor.

This writing by George Bernard Shaw sums up quite nicely my passion for Life and seems like a good way to inaugurate this round of blogging:

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I wan to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

George Bernard Shaw