Cow Art and More was honored to feature acrylic paintings and mixed media creations from Florida artist Jon Ellis in April 2009. Over the years, Ellis’ fanciful work has graced the cover of many popular books, advertisements and periodicals, including the cover of Time and National Geographic. His work has been exhibited at such prestigious galleries as the ‘Helander Gallery’ on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, as well as, maintained in permanent archival collections at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Such notable private collectors as Attorney Robert Shapiro have also enjoyed ownership of his work.
Why do you paint?
I paint because it pleases me. It pleases me to free something into this world that was once confined only to my imagination. I love putting out my palette and unleashing all those fresh pure colors from their tubes. I love running the tip of my brush through fifteen or more dollops of paint and mixing the perfect color of my choosing. From the beginning to the end of my creative process, I have complete control. Painting and creating art is the 'only' thing in life I am able to control. Whether it took a month, six months or a year to create, when it is done I step back and take a deep breath. With a tremendous sense of satisfaction I stare at what I have brought into the world and feel like I have achieved something wonderful, something which feels nearly 'perfect', even if it is just a feeling.
How did you get started?
When I was a child and my mother placed a crayon, a pencil, or a Bic pen in my hand I began to doodle. As time passed it became a compulsion,which I admit, probably even affecting my grades. While my first serious and failed attempt at painting didn't take place till I was a senior in high school, drawing was always a passion.
What is your technique?
So many people are looking for short-cuts these days to make it look good without all the hard work. My technique is slow and laborious. I developed my techniques on my own over a long period of time. While I have a bachelor of fine arts from the Philadelphia College of Art, and had many amazing teachers, no one actually taught me to paint the way I do. My friend in college did turn me on to the best brushes in the world, which I still use today, particularly the 'triple zero' Windsor NewtonI series '7'. It is the ultimate brush for control! I use acrylic paint and layer my work utilizing dry brushing, feathering, glazing, and sometimes a touch of airbrush, if it is called for. By the time a work is completed there are between twenty and thirty layers of paint. It is incredibly hard to describe my technique as I don't think about how I do it anymore...I just do it.
How do you decide what to paint?
I constantly have millions of cool ideas popping in and out of my brain/mind; Some not so cool. It is difficult to decide which ones to run with. I know I will be spending many nights and hundreds of hours with the painting, so I just make sure before we get started that we will be good friends for the duration and enjoy each others company.
How long does it take you do get an average painting?
As an illustrator for years I had horrific deadlines. Night after night I would burn my candles at both ends to get my work in on time. After twenty years I had only been late once. Now that I am not concerned with other peoples deadlines my paintings take much longer. Anywhere from two and three months to a year max. A year is way too long...sigh.
Where did you get your inspiration?
I originally got my inspiration when I was about ten years old after I opened a pack of gum with illustrated 'Wacky Stickers'. The gum was hard and inedible, but I bought pack after pack! I was immediately consumed and addicted to the colorful crazy 'sick' art.
What what you like to do more of in the future?
Besides writing Novels and making movies, I just want to keep painting. I plan to die some day when I am very very old with a very used up triple zero Windsor Newton in my hand. I wouldn't want to waste a perfectly good brush.
What else do you do besides painting?
I am a passionate writer and love to write, though unpublished as of yet! I love martial arts and Karate. I used to run my own school with my wife! I love playing my classical guitar, even though I only perform for my family! I love to Garden and grow things from seeds! I love taking care of my five doggies! I enjoy fish and coral and I maintain a 155 gallon reef tank in my living room! And I enjoy people, that's why I love doing the art shows!
Do you ever have goof ups or work you don't like?
What advice do you have for aspiring painters?
Be passionate with your art and with your life. Love both with all your heart. Have lots of experiences and adventures. Please yourself, paint for yourself...and have a back up job for money