Steven Ellis: In Quarantine

July 3rd – July 18th

All of these paintings were started after we began quarantining due to Covid-19 and painted simultaneously. Each one started as an exploration of a single hue and eventually evolved through many layers of painting into their final form just as the Black Lives Matter protests were starting. Each piece is a reaction to a very specific and challenging period of time. The initial focus on a singular color for each painting was a search for a sense of meditative calm as we began self-isolating, but eventually the works were unable to hold the calm and demanded more. So I gave them more.

When I begin a painting, I rarely start with a specific intention or an idea about how the work will look when finished. Instead, each painting becomes a dialogue between my physical self, my sensory self and my emotional self. The topic of conversation usually centers around place and time and is inspired by the quiet observation of the fine details of my environment. As I paint I spend much more time staring at the work than I do actually painting the piece.

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life and have been on Vashon Island for the past 15 years. My first memory of being an artist was when I was in kindergarten in Walla Walla. I made an abstract drawing and the teacher asked me to teach my process to the rest of the class setting the pattern of my life. After a couple years playing in a punk/goth band, I started having children, got my degree (to the relief of my parents) and started teaching 5 and 6 year olds while I continued painting. I am still at it.