Friday, May 27, 2016

On Collecting Art

By Ken Elliott
Pierre Bonnard Le Bain, lithograph

I read a blog post this week about Starting an Art Collection by Invaluable, and it got me thinking about my own approach.

One of my earliest memories was a reproduction of a snow scene oil in my grandmothers living room when I was 3 years old.

I still remember two large, framed prints that my mother bought for my childhood home, one being a Corot.

In what was surely fated, years later I began working at a series of very good frame shops and became acquainted with very good works of art. Later I got into the gallery business with two other young guys, fully immersing me into the art business.

I began to buy art when I was working in the frame shops. The feeling I got from acquiring an appealing work of art was more rewarding than furniture or clothing purchases. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the artworks were adding something to the room and my well-being.

Budget was a big factor in my apartment days but art comes in a lot of forms and being resourceful, I stretched a printed fabric onto a 4’ square frame. It was the biggest work of ‘art’ on the wall at that point and it just made the room, all for $35.

Later I purchased my first oil painting. It was about 18 x 12, a vertical of delicate, tall grass. I was struck by how it was painted and just had to have it. The price was right - $85.

I recall my dad coming by and remarking on it. He asked what I paid for it and when I told him, he was pretty surprised at how expensive it was. I felt proud to have done something beyond the norm that day. Years later he asked me about the price of a large oil by a very well-known painter. I told him he really didn’t want to know and we had a good laugh about it.

Once I got into the gallery business in Houston with two colleagues, my collecting became more serious. I began to study prints by early masters and 20th century Americans. As young gallery dealers, we needed to be better informed about the works we were exhibiting so we could better inform and create knoweldegable collectors. We studied, purchased books for our clients and followed the auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. It was glamorous and fun as our research and collecting expanded, helping others do the same.

Years earlier, a marvelous collector began mentoring me and gave me an important piece of wisdom. He said there two kinds of art: decorative and historical.

It provided me a roadmap, a basis for collecting a variety of things. I also learned along the way to just buy what you like.

Having that historical / decorative reference has been very helpful to me throughout the years. I'm less likely to spend a lot of money on something that just catches the eye or appeals to me in a decorative way. I'll save serious money for something that really thrills me or for an important artwork.

When collected objects are gathered in a room or home, they naturally fit together because they reflect the collector’s interests while stimulating the mind and creating comfort. I also like that each piece has a story and place in time. Many times the acquisition is every bit as interesting as the artwork: how it was obtained or tied to a special event or place.

As an artist, I keep some of my own works along the way. These works have a value to me because they represent important breakthroughs. It represents the best I could do at the time and I like having those creative landmarks as a reference - they keep the bar high. I’m always aspiring to do better and these works urge me forward.

Acquiring the works of others also brings something new and precious into the home. Extraordinary objects amaze and thrill the collector as well as the viewers.

Pleasure comes not from the price but from the experience of something new, the acquisition of mystery, beauty or even outrage for your space. You can capture the moment of creation itself.

Living with works of art is enriching on many levels, one of my favorites being when the artwork reveals a secret of its creation. What a marvelous gift from the artist, a timeless joy for the viewer.

Art lasts. We know Degas, but not the Mayor of Paris at the time.
Gather a bit of creation, something timeless and bring it home with you.

Ken Elliott is an artist and writer living in Colorado.
Fine Art Website
His award winning book Manifesting 123 and you don't need #3 website

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Just Fun: Manhattan Office Workers Start a Post-it War, and Stick With It


Sticky-note displays in the windows of 200 Hudson Street in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, the result of a friendly back-and-forth between firms. CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times 

In a noisy and bustling stretch of Lower Manhattan, where cabdrivers blare their horns and pedestrians scurry by with laser focus, people have places to be, it seems, and are disinclined to waste any time getting there.
But every so often, someone walking along Canal Street glances upward and pauses. And then pulls out a phone to take a picture.
On Tuesday, the windows of the office buildings on both sides of the street, near the Holland Tunnel, were covered in sticky notes, recreating Marge and Maggie from “The Simpsons” and a Superman logo that stood as tall as an entire floor. There was a homage to Prince, his symbol depicted in purple Post-its. And there were cheekier messages and references to memes as well: “5pm yet?” and “Bye Felicia.”
The creations are the result of a friendly back and forth between the firms, mostly advertising and marketing companies, on opposite sides of Canal Street.
“Wow, that’s funny,” said Alexa Catania, 19, who stopped when a mosaic of a white ghost against a yellow background caught her eye; she thought she and her friend had stumbled across the offices of Snapchat on their way to lunch. “I was trying to figure out what it was.”
“Only in New York,” her friend Gerald J. Ruland said, as Ms. Catania snapped a picture.
The whole thing started last week, when “Hi” appeared in a window in the building at 75 Varick Street on the north side of Canal. Across the street, in the offices of the advertising company Havas Worldwide, at 200 Hudson Street, someone responded with “Sup.”


Workers have recreated Maggie and Marge Simpson, above, as well as logos and memes. There’s also a purple homage to Prince.CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times 

“That’s how simply things can start, with a little ‘Hi,’” said Toygar Bazarkaya, the chief creative officer for the Americas at Havas Worldwide.
It blossomed quickly from there, with workers sketching out designs and using scores and scores of the adhesive notes in a range of colors to create their displays, many of which have grown far more sophisticated than the initial text-message shorthand.
“It’s cool to see it evolve over six floors,” Jeremy Pagano, who works in account services for an ad company on the north-side building, said while taking a smoke break outside.
“It has really come to life,” his co-worker Angela Donza said.
The back and forth has generated lots of attention on social media, with hundreds of pictures posted on Twitter and Instagram, with hashtags like #CanalNotes and #PostItWar. Even the maker of Post-it notes caught wind of it and has sent the companies involved briefcases packed with a variety of notes in different colors.
Inside the offices, workers have found it exciting to watch everything unfold.
“It’s definitely surprising,” said Kristina Bostley, an editorial manager for Biolumina, a pharmaceutical advertising agency in the building on the north side. “We never really know what they’re planning, and they don’t know what we’re planning.”
It seems unclear where the competition is headed. It started organically, Mr. Bazarkaya said, and he hopes it continues that way. It has been a fun way for workers to have another outlet for their creativity — after work, during lunch or in the occasional lulls during the day, of course.
“We have a day job,” he said.

Monday, May 16, 2016

May Newsletter, 2016

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May News:

The new two months are filled with a number of exciting events with exhibits, workshops, private lessons and a lecture. In between I'll be working on new artworks and commissions. I hope to see you at one of these events soon.

May Exhibits:

Mirada Gallery one-man show through May 30

My one-person exhibition is currently showing at the Mirada Gallery, Denver Metro through May 30. If you can't get by to see the exhibit in person you can view it here.

I am also part of a group show opening this Thursday May 19 at the Cherry Creek Fine Art Gallery in Denver, 5-7pm.  view the exhibit

Lecture / Pastel Demonstration:
Saturday, May 21, I'll be doing a pastel demonstration for the Pastel Society of Colorado, Western Slope Chapter in Grand Junction, Colorado, 1-3 pm. Location: Bray Education Center, 637 Belford Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81505.

Exhibiting in June:

A A group show at the Art Gym Friday, June 3 with my fellow Expand Artists 5-8 pm. Our show is titled Expand / Experimental. Check out our exhibit and tour this amazing 17,000 sq. ft. of rentable, creative workspace for Denver artists. Location: 1460 Leyden St., (at Colfax) Denver CO 80220 map

Exhibiting in July:
I will be in Texas for a group show Saturday, July 23 at the Arden's Gallery, Houston. Join us in their redesigned space at 1631 West Alabama, Houston, Texas 77006  map

Take your work to new heights. These workshops will focus on strategies for making better paintings, going to new places in your work and making fine art.
Please inquire   all workshop info

Steamboat Springs, CO
Making it Fine Art Workshop / Advanced Strategies

Sat and Sun, June 25-26, 9-4pm. This class is almost full, so call the Center to secure your place. 
Flyer and complete info
Open to artists in all media desiring new tools and strategies for creating fine art. This is new, advanced version of Ken's Making it Fine Art Workshop. This is an indoor, two-day workshop limited to 12 participants. $390 per person payable to the Center for Visual Arts.
Call the Center to register: 970-846-7062

Castle Rock, CO (Denver metro)
Making it Fine Art Workshop
Sat and Sun, August 20-21  9:30 - 5pm  filled
Open to artists at all skill levels and media. An indoor, two-day workshop limited to 6 participants. $390 per person. Let me know if you need help with transportation and accomidations.
Flyer and complete info    register online here

Making it Fine Art 3-day Workshops in Marshfield, MA
Sept 9-11 and Falmouth, MA Sept 16-18

These groups are now taking registrations. It is an amazing time of the year to be on the East coast and I hope to see you there! 
complete info and registration

Great things happen in these Fine Art Classes with information that will last for a lifetime.

New Works:

The Red Foothills
Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
Mirada Fine Arts, Indian Springs, CO (Denver metro)
Steamboat Springs, CO
$5250 framed

At the Denver International Airport

Should you find yourself at the Denver Airport, take the time to view my work and those of my gifted Expand artists / collogues reproduced in the Main Terminal. You will see the images between the baggage claim areas and behind the car rental counters. This “Here to There” themed display was curated by the DIA Art and Culture Program. The airport desired more color in the main terminal spaces and happily, we were allowed to use it as our playground. Many thanks to my fellow artists and everyone that made this possible!
Our EXPAND artist group is comprised of five artists from the Denver metro area: Victoria EubanksJanice McDonaldCarol Ann WaughMary Williams and myself.

Making it Fine Art Workshop in Boulder, CO March 2016


A Survey of Paintings and Prints at the PACE Center
with works in oils, pastels and monotypes. This exhibition catalog can be purchased online here.
30 color pages and text by the artist. $10 plus $4 postage.

Ken Elliott American Landscapes coffee table book:

Ken Elliott book, American Landscapes
This large coffee table book reprises 25 years of my works in oil, pastel, monotype, etching and collage.Large, coffee table hardback version, 11 x 13 inches, 94 color pages with essays. Book and a signed giclee print of the cover image: $150 or just order the book for $115.

Also available as an i-book / download on Apple devices for $9.99. You can preview the complete book and how to order your electronic or hardback versions from my website.
My Blog, For the Color

Want to follow along in my studio?
Come across some interesting art bits and intriguing posts from elsewhere? Check out my artist's blog: For the Color and on the right of the blog under Followers, click Join this Site. Right now you can view vintage videos of Renoir, Degas, a Piet Mondrian video montage, comments about my works and observations about museum artworks from some recent trips.

View my newest artworks:
This monthly newsletter is the best way to stay up to date with my new works and events. You can also follow me on Facebook and go more in depth with my blog, For the Color. To view the total of my works in all media and in all my galleries, go to

Thank you,
Contact Ken


Art Blog: For the Color

Sign up for this monthly

Image top:

Saccades III
Oil on canvas
36 x 60 inches
Photographed at the Mirada Gallery opening
(cropped here)
American Art Collector Magazine:
"Elliott's canvases display the strikingly vivid modern hues in which he chooses to render his contemporary landscapes." 

Southwest Art Magazine:
 Although his paintings loosely reference photographs and plein-air sketches, they refuse to exist within the confines of already-prescribed images. Rather, they stand independent of any specific place or time, the fulfilled pursuits of the artist’s visual and intellectual explorations. Elliott wields color boldly, creating sizzling, vibrant shapes that are at once kinetic and placid, grounded in unifying illumination, and focused compositions. He has a fascination with line structure as well, believing that “edges empower colors.” 

Private Lessons:

I have really enjoyed giving private lessons over the years. It is casual, focused and fun.

There will be a big result in your approach to making fine art and clarity on your career strategies. Give me a call and we'll discuss what works best for you. Lodging and transportation can be provided for the Castle Rock Workshops.

What they are Saying:

"I can't thank you enough for coming to Boulder! Thank you for your clear eye, your hard work, your beautiful color and your careful feedback. I'm now a different Painter...maybe a different person? I loved the weekend. And I can't wait until we get to soak up your love for the work, for Wolf Kahn, for COLOR -- yet again (note that I'm greedy). You are an amazing addition to our lives."

"Thank you so much for lighting up our lives and our paintings at this past weekend’s workshop! I loved hearing about your time with Wolf Kahn, your thoughts on painting, the beautiful demo, and of course the great feedback you provided us on our own paintings. You really reignited my desire to paint freely. Thanks also for your generosity in sharing the numerous links.  I hope to spend another weekend painting with you sometime soon."

"Thank you for the workshop! It was a great two days. You are an amazing host and instructor, (two things that don’t always work together). You pulled something from each of us and it was wonderful to be a part of it. Thanks to the moon and back,"

"Thank you Ken. It was a wonderment! I learned so much."

"I so enjoyed meeting you and being part of the workshop. You got me on fire!!!!!"
"Wow! My weekend of private lessons was fabulous! While I was there I stepped into a whole new world that my soul was calling for. Wonderful conversations, a beautiful time with great art everywhere and artistic success!"

"It was a fabulous workshop! I know we all had a lot of fun and really enjoyed having you here. We would love to have you come back again next year!"

"Just wanted to thank you again for a very inspiring, informative, and fun workshop. I worked LARGE today!"
"Thank you for all your inspiration!"

"Thanks SO VERY MUCH, Ken, for such a fun, informative, and energetic workshop. Your enthusiasm is contagious. What a wonderful weekend!!"
Christine"When I signed up for a painting workshop, who knew that it would be so much more. Thank you Ken. For your kindness, generosity of spirit, and sharing your knowledge and skill of painting with us. And thank you to everyone for making our time together a magical weekend which will be cherished. Fortunately the universe provided me with what I needed, whether I knew it or not."

"Love the class, you are a great teacher!"
"I feel so enriched and on fire to paint big and glowing colors. If you ever get a chance to study with Ken Elliott, I highly recommend him. If you need help getting to his workshops just read his book Manifesting 123"
Francine "



Sunday, May 8, 2016

New Works: Haze in the Distance II oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches

Haze in the Distance II oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches

In this painting the sun is intensifying everything in the landscape but it is hidden. All is heightened and the colors border on the extreme. Even so, everything is in balance, allowing the bright colors to appear normal. The painting started with my insisting on the bright foothill colors and that in turn pushed the color of every other element in the landscape. Much was added and subtracted - all with the goal of simplifying the landscape and balancing the radiant lime fields against the blue-purple backgrounds.

Currently exhibiting at Mirada Fine Art
One-man show, Ken Elliott / COLOR
Through May 30, 2016
view the exhibit

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New Works: The Saccades Series oils

Saccades I  oil on panel, 24 x 24 inches
Sold by Saks Galleries, Denver   private collection
I've been doing trees for years and they continue to inspire me in a variety of ways with no end in sight. With this Saccades series, much is abstracted and the forest motif becomes a place of patterns, color and light effects. These works take on a life of their own and they make a lot of demands: more shadow, color, light, mass, brights, blacks - in an endless dialog until they are finally in balance with all of their complexity. The Saccades works are designed without a singular focal point. This leads the eye to explore the equally engaging parts of the artwork.

About the Saccades Series shown here:
"Since the late 19th century, researchers have been aware of the phenomenon of saccades, the rapid movement of the eye as we shift our attention from one thing to another. As a result, vision itself is discontinuous. We construct a “map of reality” from saccades much as a film editor puts together a scene from individual camera takes."  From an article by the film maker Errol Morris, NY Times

These works are now exhibiting at Mirada Fine Art, Colorado
One-man show: Ken Elliott / COLOR view the exhibit
Opening reception, Friday, May 6, 6-9 pm and continuing through May 30

About Saccades I (above)
The idea was to develop a new way of seeing the forest. There are layers of forest material, tree trunks primarily, but the types of trees or even the time of day is secondary to the patterns and colors in this series of oils. There is something to see everywhere and we are compelled to move around the image, enjoying all the delicious elements that create the forest.

Saccades III  oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches  $8450 framed

Another view in saccade fashion of a forest that at first glance seems very two-dimensional but quickly reveals a variety of patterns receding into the background.
My intention was to create a green forest but not in a common or expected way. To do that, I added a variety of unusual and unnatural colors without knowing what would happen from minute to minute. It was a bit like hearing an orchestra tune up with various notes and volumes to create a recognizable sound. In this case, it became a random forest view where every note is individualized and inclusive to a green forest captured at that moment.

Saccades II  oil on panel, 24 x 24 inches  $2150 unframed

Yellows surround the blues and the blues recede into the lights.
The pinks add to the atmospherics while the reds hide in plain sight. Every color supports and intensives the other in a patient and timeless way. There seems to be a slight movement in the trees but without a breeze. The lights and the darks are quietly alive and moving.