Daniel Ellis

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Daniel Ellis
Northglenn, Colorado - United States




Art is created by people. These people we call artists express emotions and make associations regarding their own lives and, by extension, their culture at large. From the most mundane advertising, through our most refined performance arts, literature, poetry, and painting, our art is a trailing indicator. Like tracks in the snow art shows where we have been as a culture and marks where we stand. My response to life is positive and hopeful. I choose my subjects from those experiences which anchor my optimism and feed my hope. My expository works divide into categories that flow from these different sources.

The landscapes emerged from an affinity I feel to the shape of the ground that characterizes the front range of Colorado, where I grew up. Subjects generally found in landscapes, such as trees, are often isolated from one another by considerable distance here. The combination of broken ground and dispersed objects draw my attention to large scale compound shapes, and make me aware of spatial relationships. On top of these, there are the subtle colors, dry air and unique light. I have always had a strong attraction to the landscape and have realized great refreshment by observing it. My immediate goal when painting a landscape is to capture my sense of refreshment and leave it on the canvas for the viewer to enjoy. There is a rich landscape tradition running through western culture that has been expanded upon with every generation and I am delighted to contribute to that tradition.

Abstraction emerged as a means for developing my visual responses apart from any conceptual or narrative content. These paintings have a synthetic beginning. They may start as a gestural element that developed while creating a landscape, or simply as an abstract gesture. No matter what the beginning, these pieces are at least one step removed from observation of nature. I put paint to the canvas and note my response. Then I modify the canvas somehow and note my fresh response. I repeat this process of painting, analyzing, and painting again until I reach a moment when a further modification would muddy rather than enhance my response. My abstractions have presence rather than meaning. The art will trigger an emotional response for those who open themselves to it.

The prayer book images emerge from those aspects of life which are not landscape and cannot be expressed abstractly. These are moments that require context. They deal with relationship, insight, and faith through sign and narrative. They are characterized by a symbolic hierarchy. Objects are presented in ways that enhance features important to the concept of the piece while omitting other aspects of the objects. Subject matter is used in an associative rather than a literal sense. The formal aspects of the works are used for emotional rather than descriptive purposes. I create these works in response to events and lessons in life. Like piled stones carried from the river bed, I sometimes use these images as memorials.

What we call culture is the accumulation of countless individual statements about life resonating from both the past and the present. Very few of us will be remembered for more than a moment after our deaths. Our influence is limited to what we have personally contributed into the lives of those younger than us, and to our surviving works. The artworks that I create are expressions of thanksgiving to God and of joy in his presence to the extent that I am able to live it. Art is a way to add my record to the culture. Art allows me to project empathy into future generations just as I have gained empathy from the art of the past.


My formal art education began with Judy Crowley at Northglenn Jr High. Judy is history’s greatest middle school art teacher! Back then we spent 6th through 9th grade in middle school. Judy’s class was centered on learning to recognize and use the basic elements of art and composition. Four years exposure to her strong communication skills and her willingness to customize instruction for a higher aptitude student, gave me an unshakeable foundation of observation, composition skills, and eye hand-coordination. At the High School level, I spent my entire senior year, every class I took, in the art department. My college years were spent at the Kansas City Art Institute where I accomplished a BFA in Painting/Printmaking. I also was privileged to meet and marry Brenda; a fellow art student. After collage we came to the Denver area. Here during the late ‘80s and 90s, I was represented by the News Gallery, and the Hassel/Hessler gallery. And I was an active member of the Genera artist’s cooperative, where I participated in a variety of group shows. Eventually the demands of life and family required that I step away from the art scene.

While away from the art market Brenda and I created the ARTistic Pursuits® art curriculum. This development, lead us into teaching. While teaching, I also developed an art history course and a digital photography course for high schoolers. During my extended hiatus from the art market, I continued to work in my studio teaching occasional students, developing my painting technique, and refining my personal direction mostly through the use of drawing processes. To date my bookshelf holds 67 drawing pads that chronical this development. At last I can refocus my attention to the studio and those artistic pursuits that I hold so dear.

So here I am, presenting a portfolio of works for you to enjoy! I hope that you will find my work refreshing. Thank you for looking me up.