Looking back, and forwards….

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So, I hear it is a new year. I thought, seeing as I’m sitting in bed with the flu, I’d use the time to reflect on a few things that happened this last year, and where I’m going next….

Jagriti Yatra

This last year that has had me drawing on windows in high rise buildings, sketching at festivals, partaking in several exhibitions and starting new series’ and collaborations…. began, what feels like a long time ago, on a train.

I was traveling the width and breadth of India with the Jagriti Yatra, a charity for young social entrepreneurs. Working with with my colleague and good friend Temujen Gunewardena we captured the two week train ride in a 15 meter long illustration….

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and all the while I kept a personal sketchbook of our travels…

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Mythologies Series

In the late spring I made a call out for an author to create written illustrations for this series of over 40 drawings and their myriad cast of eccentric characters.

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Since then I have been working in collaboration with the Ines Ferreira a visual artist, maker of art-books and author of humorous, strange and serious, magic-realist worlds. I entrusted Inez with my Mythologies family and have loved reading the stories that have emerged. The concept, of creating a book or exhibition from this combined work, continues to develop in response to the work.

I cannot wait to read more and find the full shape of this series but I am also enjoying the slow pace. The project has a staying power,  I so often quickly abandon finished work for the next project, it a great practice to keep returning to pull more threads from the initial fibre.

Portraits At The Ashmolean

I spent a great evening in the spring at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford as ‘The Wandering Portrait Artist’, creating colourful portraits of the guests at the museum’s Andy Warhol inspired Portraits night.

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Black and White

My usual palette is fresh, bright and bold, full of citrus, sun and luminous shadows. The Ashmolean project pushed my colours to pop-art saturation… but, in the autumn, I had a brief period of black and white.

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This series was twice as unusual because I was not only working predominantly in black and white, I was working from photographs rather than from life, or from my mind. The effect was rather like collage, taking elements from my own photographs and other images and interweaving them to create cryptic narrative scenes. This series was exhibited at the Creative Connections studios in East London in November.

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Various Guises EP

November saw the launch of the Tide Take Him EP by the folk duo, Various Guises, myself and Maya McCourt. I was able to bring my art and music together in artwork for the EP and in song illustrations. I curated an exhibition at the launch and exhibited the EP artwork alongside the work of other artists on the theme.

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Etsy Shop

Having clambered onto the social media of Instagram the year before I forged even further into the world of zero’s and ones this year by opening an ETSY shop… currently it is stocked with prints and framed work and I look forward to putting more original work up.

Believe it or not – it seems to be working, I have so far sold prints in the UK, Austria, Australia and the USA !

Colourful Nudes

As December grew darker and greyer, I began a new series of delightfully colourful, naked ladies with extremely strange hair.

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 The Christmas Market

In December I also returned, almost by surprise, to Christmas Markets for the first time in 3 years, and had a fantastic time. It’s that lovely feeling of selling your work to someone personally, knowing where it is going to and what kind of home it may have…

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I sold a lot of original work including two members of the Strange Familiar’s, another series that mixes text and image in a short story, or mysterious narrative, style. The rest of the Strange Familiar family may be found in exhibition in 2017

and last but by no means least…

Crisis

I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Crisis this year as a volunteer, making portraits of the guests, giving drawing classes and helping in any other (totally unrelated) way I could. There is something in a portrait, that means you have been seen, and recognised. There is also a connection that is made by sitting face to face with someone for ten minutes, completely aware of one another without having to talk, only letting conversation come of its own accord. Many guests kept the portraits, others sent them to family, to their kids or mothers. I don’t think could use ink, paint or graphite in a better way. I’m very grateful for the experience.

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What next?

On Friday I leave for Barcelona for a period of self-directed study. Very little is decided except that my oil paints are coming with me and I plan to wrestle the caps off the tubes where they have gummed up and become stuck from lack of use. Drawing will continue, of course… and the rest, is all adventure. The main question is if there will be space for clothes in my suitcase, when all the art materials are in there.

And, of course, the eternal question of wether the gods-that-be will allow my banjo on as hand luggage.

¡Adios!

Ongoing CALL OUT to Authors and Poets – Textual Illustration for The Image.

In reverse of the usual order…illustrating drawings with text… to be combined into a book, and exhibition.

I’m still looking for contributors/collaborators for this project.

There are over 40 artworks to be illustrated and I’ll be publishing them gradually here and on my social media @BlancheEllisArt as the project progresses… so keep an eye out here. I may also be putting up snippets of the writing I’ve received… with permission of the authors.

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Changing shape…

Even since I posted about this last week the idea has developed, mostly because of the amazing responses I’ve had already from friends, strangers, other artists, an art-book maker and poets and authors from different backgrounds, and languages. And have found many secret authors in my acquaintances.

I’m so happy to be receiving this fount of creativity!   

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Words lead words… 

It’s even leading me to write myself, in an attempt to track what I am looking for. Other people draw out my words with their own wonderful phrases and I feel the pitch, the roll and magnetism of the word collaboration, a force all of it’s own… changing the shape of my intension as it unfolds. Perhaps a preface…

“Word-turns apt in riddle and rhythm to trip and roll the mind causing backtrack, retrace, and circled in so turning, the sentence sense embraced. The way a picture leads the eye, not forward to finality but, with concentric in-conclusions, as a dance that makes sense-of-a-step does so by leading you both too-and-fro and leaving you, not locked, but poised by punctuation.”

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Drink Me –

The Story-World…

The initial idea was that each piece of text be another ‘moment’ from the images story-world, a suggestion or clue that opens up the narrative to further interpretation rather than attempting to complete, or explain the picture itself. Instead of finished stories I’m looking for writing that echoes or extends the sense of mystery and magical-realism, and may do so without obvious reference to the image itself. It could be specific, detailed, atmospheric or impressionistic. All and any ideas appreciated!

As the project opens up I think the writing could be in anthropological, an impossible recipe, a critique of a non-existant novel (think J. L. Borges), a short letter, a completely brazen critique of a character, or of the picture itself .

Ideas abound

Please share any ideas here or by email at blancheellis@gmail.com

See more of the images on Instagram and in the previous post and call out

Thank you for stopping by!

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CALL OUT to Authors and Poets – Textual Illustration for The Image.

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‘Cubs’ Another from the series – Mythologies.

CALL OUT: I have plans for a book and am looking for a writer.

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This series has over 40 pieces and most of them emerge as if from some old myth, folk tale or strange internal narrative. This is why I call them ‘Mythologies’.

But… the tales they tell have never been written. 

In the reverse to the usual relationship of text and image I am looking to collaborate with someone (or several people) to write text to accompany each picture, to illustrate the images, if you will.  The idea is to combine these into a book. This writing, be it a paragraph of prose or a few lines of poetry, will sit opposite the artwork on each page and make a pair to be ‘read’ together. 

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The Story-World…

The idea is that each piece of text be another ‘moment’ from the images story-world, a suggestion or clue that opens up the narrative to further interpretation rather than attempting to complete, or explain the picture itself. Instead of finished stories I’m looking for writing that echoes or extends the sense of mystery and magical-realism, and may do so without obvious reference to the image itself. It could be specific, detailed, atmospheric or impressionistic. 

I’m very excited to see what emerges from the birth of this project…..

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If you are interested….

I’d love to see any snatches of writing inspired by this as starting points and inspiration for the project which is just beginning and is a brand new idea, so do share this with anyone who might be interested, and email blancheellis@gmail.com for more images if you’d like to try writing something, or to discuss ideas for the project.

More images from the work can be seen on my Instagram @BlancheEllisArt

I also plan to have an exhibition of these artworks with the text in the future.

Thanks for stopping by!

Blanche

New Etsy Shop Open @BlancheEllisArt !

Finally…

after years of techno-phobia, I have got around to opening my Etsy shop with prints and original artwork from the last few years, as well as freshly created work that I will soon be adding. Although I prefer face-to-face sales, not everyone is that close by so it’s nice to open up shop to a wider range of people…

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All the frames in the shop are hand-made by me to suit the artwork.

Something that I take great joy in getting just-right.

Listings will be going up over the coming weeks so keep an eye out for new work. 

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Find the shop at BlancheEllisArt

Lots of work from my Instagram account will be going up

so if you see anything you like there… let me know.

Thanks for stopping by !

Blanche

New work… Strange Friends….

A new body of work has been growing… always bodies, always metamorphosing, always emerging from I’m not sure where, and becoming strangely familiar by the time they’re finished, as if I’d seen them a long time ago, and only just remembered them.

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As usual I don’t know their story before hand, but after I’ve seen them I can guess, and these guesses go into the titles.

The series is growing quite fast, the question really, is whether the pages of this sketchbook, or this particular 8B pencil, will run out first and mark the limit.

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I would like to exhibit them all together, as a community, but for now the community is still growing… you can see them emerging here

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There is a narrative stream working its way through these figures, like a collection of short stories, myths or folktales. I’m not sure of the theme, but the work reveals itself, and answers are dead ends.

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So, many minds, the crown hands, tea, and more to come.

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Jagriti Yatra Artwork In Full

At last I have managed to turn the 15 meter concertina sketchbook that recorded the last Jagriti Yatra journey around India into a digital format!

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“Jagriti Yatra is an ambitious train journey of discovery and transformation that takes hundreds of India’s highly motivated youth, especially those who are from small towns and villages of India on a 15 day, 8000 km national odyssey to meet the role models – social and business entrepreneurs – of the country.

The vision of the Jagriti is ‘Building India Through Enterprise'”

Such an intense journey, living on a train with amazing people and experiences and transformed into this artwork by myself and Temujen Gunawardena

working in all sort of places and situations over a mad 15 days..

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You can see the epic size of our art odessy here…

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So, to make it visible in the world of on-screen formatting I’ve divided it up in the gallery below for you to browse in detail… or…

Click here to see a video of the artwork in motion under the hands of myself and Temujen Gunawardena…

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Click the pictures to browse through the gallery…

Exhibition of the full artwork coming soon….

see previous posts for more drawings from my personal travel sketchbook

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Portraits: Live Friday at the Ashmolean Museum

Last Friday night I took a suitcase of hats and picture frames to the

LIVE FRIDAY: FRAMED at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford…

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The event was themed around Andy Warhol and having equipped myself with appropriate colours, and dressed up for the museums historical element…

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I settled down beneath some 15th Century Dutch paintings (including a rather scary portrait of Rembrandt’s mother), put out my hats for public perusal and invited the evenings visitors to sit for their portrait wearing the headdress of their choice…

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Photo credit to Ian Wallman / IWPhotographic & The Ashmolean

All together they create a multi-coloured portrait patchwork..

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I was even lucky enough to have my own portrait done at the end of the evening by the wonderful Dot and Maya….

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It was a really great night so thanks to the Ashmolean, the Live Friday team and to all the excellent models that passed my way on Friday! Especially 10 year old Max who stood in as both model and critic…

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If you would like the original of your portrait from the event please email me at blancheelllis@gmail.com

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Photo credit to Jessica Harvey

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