Ellen Starr Lyon

commited to creating art while being a full-time working mom

Someone get me a pencil!

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Onion Reflection

Onion Reflection

Wow-it’s been awhile since my last post. I did manage to get my application that I mentioned (more about that below). I’ll know by May 25th if I need to get started a new work. I drew the above drawing for the show I was in this past February. I so enjoyed it; the stillness was such a balm to my mom-blizted mind. The process of reducing the noise and excess of the still life I set up was powerful and calming. Laying pencil on paper is magic. So simple, stark yet complex. There is no color to fall back on but there is the weight of each line, the blur created with a fingertip, and the power of the negative space. Anyone that has seen my work knows I am fascinated by ellipses- the roundness of objects, the shape of their rims, the curved space within. To me the most exciting image would be a large composition of just bowls! Weird, huh? Perhaps, I’ve narrowed down my next series? Bowls, bowls and more bowls. I mentioned my application for a show. The application asked three questions of me about my art and limited my answer to a certain number of words. After answering, I thought my responses may be of interest. Here are the questions and answers:

Exhibition Application 2012

  1. Briefly describe your life and how it relates to your art.

I feel as if my life is art and reflects the art that I produce. I wear many hats, as most of us do, but the significant “hats” are what inform the art I produce and are ways I express my creativity. At this stage in my life I need the security of a –day- job but I choose work experiences within the art world. I worked in custom picture framing for 12 years; it allowed me to interact with many local artists and to learn to professionally present my own paintings. For over three years, I have worked at the IU Art Museum in the Paintings Conservation Department. I am now learning the care of paintings and am inspired by the close contact with Master works on a daily basis.

Another hat I wear is motherhood. I, without apology, put great effort into my family. I’d like to say that my children are my greatest work of art but I recognize that they are their own individuals and I contribute but a little. However, I do think it is fair to say that parenting takes all the creativity I have and more! Plus, one cannot replace the experience of seeing the world and its beauty through the eyes of a child.

For me to sincerely encourage my kids to follow their dreams, I must continue to follow mine. Following that dream means weaving art into my everyday life. My canvas can be what and where I need it to be: whether an actual canvas in the studio, the clothes I choose to wear or my garden, with its living pigments and constantly changing compositions.

2. Briefly summarize the concepts explored in your art.

I want to bring an intimate, mysterious power to still life using the subtle moments that exist in and between everyday objects. I want to create portraits of these objects that tell a story. That story can be between the viewer and the specific objects or a response to the vibrant light and color. I love bold color and the energy of pattern, negative space and light flowing over a surface. I make images I can return to, that are warm and embracing, with both subtlety and bold beauty. My current work is about the lushness of the commonplace; a sliver of light, a reflection in a surface, the sensual curve of a shadow. This beauty is available to all who know how to look at the world around them and really see it.

3.Briefly explain the technique/s that your use.

I employ both stretched canvases and canvas board. I generally start with a colored ground and sketch my composition in with vine charcoal. I build thin layers of paint to allow more light to penetrate the paint film and reflect back. In some areas I use moderately applied impasto in order to highlight a certain passage or lend weight to an object. I do not strictly adhere to the initial drawing but will make changes as I work to answer demands that the painting itself makes. I enjoy the beginning stages with its broad, free strokes but also the end when I can alternately define edges and soften others to create more depth. I have also added a few drawings to my application. I find such beauty in a pencil line; a starkness and elegance so different from paintings. Without the use of color, I use the negative space to define the image and activate the objects presented.


Author: Ellen Starr Lyon

I am a Paintings Conservation Technician by day, free-spirit mother-of-two painter by night!

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