Saturday, October 10, 2020

This blog has now moved to my redesigned website and new blog page.

This blog will remain and the over 300 entries are still fully reviewable and searchable. 

I hope you will sign up at the top of the new blog page and automatically get all the latest from the studio.

Thank you,


Monday, August 10, 2020

New Work: The Light in the World III


The Light in the World IV
Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches   Saks Galleries, Denver    $6650 framed

How to make a strip of land and clouds interesting? In my case, color is a first choice and it was used in abundance here. Alongside the color is an intent to bring light into every part of the painting as a continuation of this series. This is the fourth Light in the World oil and after living with them all on the easel for so many months, it has changed the way I view things to some degree. 

Looking up from the computer and out the window right now, I can easily imagine that what I am presently seeing could have more life and joy in it and I'm encouraged to make more oils to that end. What has emerged from the sometimes dark and fearful forces that surround us at this time is a peaceful and loving opposite. The phrase comes to mind, "There is light, in abundance everywhere and freely given to all, if we choose."

A worthy option and there will be more paintings to follow on that beam.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

New Work: The Light in the World IV

The Light in the World IV  oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches   Saks Galleries, Denver   $6650 framed  

With these Light in the World series works, my goal is to have the light permeate every part of the scene. In this sunset, the light is not a sun glaring through the clouds but instead, a luminous scene.

The painting went through a number of changes and as it progressed, I worked to add more radiance and interest. Many foreground changes were tried and rejected until I came upon the idea of a diagonal movement. It worked nicely with the horizontal cloud bands and gave the painting the added weight necessary and more depth at the bottom on the oil. It was a solution worth working for.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

New Work: Air through the Forest, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches

Air through the Forest, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches $6650 framed

For this painting I developed it in a different way, putting in the foliage first and with a lot of paint on the brush. The leaves set up a delicate, lacy effect and added movement.

The vertical trunk patterns create the horizontal and vertical aspects of this painting. As the tree trunks recede, they are surrounded by the yellow tones and it gives off the illusion of atmosphere. The placement of the tree trunks from left to right complete the composition, filling the space, adding more movement and interest.

The atmospheric effects weren't something I was striving for, but once I saw what the yellow tones were doing, I let the painting develop that way, continuing with thick strokes, layer after layer and it was fascinating to use so much paint and still give the illusion of tinted air. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Newsletter, May 2020

Oil on canvas, 36 X 36 inches $5100 unframed
Sorelle Gallery, New Canaan, CT
More about this oil on Ken's blog, For the Color

May News:

I like what the great American painter, Robert Motherwell said, "Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it." Life continues but for too short a time, so let's endeavor to make it a beautiful and meaningful one.

My essentially living in the art studio has its advantages because nine new oils are in progress. There are no creative limits and it does keep things interesting here!

Thankfully, I will be delivering a 5 foot oil commission this week for a Florida hospital and other commissions are currently in the works.
Thank you all for engaging me for your public and private spaces.

Keep in mind that galleries are just now reopening and have also stepped up their services for clients online and by phone. Feel free to browse either way and of course, you can contact me directly.

Due to virus concerns, I have cancelled the Denver Metro workshop for now. It may be that I will host another group workshop later this year but it depends on how safe it will be. I'll make announcements in this newsletter and on my website.

Meanwhile, artists are signing up for my private, in-person lessons and the online, 4-month Art Mentoring Sessions. There are a limited number of dates available each month, so please join in soon. Feel free to contact me and start a conversation about the possibilities.

Take your work to new heights. These workshops and private sessions will focus on strategies for making better paintings, colorist tools, going to new places in your work and making fine art. We will be going deeper into making better and more appealing artworks with a variety of strategies and in some sessions, Photoshop insights made easy. all workshop info

Here's a video about what happens in the Group and Private Workshops

My best wishes for your health, comfort and a life well-lived.

New Works:

Oil on canvas, 48 x 60   $10950 framed
Saks Galleries, Denver, CO
More about this oil on Ken's blog, For the Color

Oil on canvas, 36 X 36 inches     $5100 unframed
Sorelle Gallery, New Canaan, CT
More about this oil on Ken's blog, For the Color

Oil on canvas, 40  40   $6650 framed
More about this oil on Ken's blog, For the Color

Grateful Notices:

Oil on Panel, 24 X 24   Private collection, CO
More about this oil on Ken's blog, For the Color

In the Galleries:

Oil on canvas, 40 X 60      $9500 framed
Saks Galleries, Denver
More about this on Ken's blog, For the Color

Oil on canvas, 30 X 30 inches     $3700 unframed
Sorelle Gallery, New Canaan, CT
More about this oil on Ken's blog, For the Color

Oil on canvas, 36 X 60      $8450 framed
In the studio

More about this oil on Ken's blog, For the Color

Oil on canvas, 36 X 60      $7500 unframed
Sorelle Gallery, New Canaan, CT
More about this oil on Ken's blog, For the Color

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 iBook / 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 www.kenelliott.comThank you,

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Article: Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, April 2020 / Thrill: An Artist's Perspective on Painting Landscapes

Thrill: An Artist’s Perspective on Painting Landscapes. An interview with Ken Elliott

Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine
By Fine Art Today
April 29, 2020

"Gold Progressions" Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches  Private collection, Michigan

On Landscape Paintings / An interview with Ken Elliott

Over 40 years ago I got a job working in a frame shop and for most of the years since then, I’ve been involved in the art business. More frame shops followed and later, working in and managing art galleries. I had an aptitude for it and enjoyed every aspect of the business: finding the artists and acquiring good works to sell. I came up seeing the arts from a business side and I’m very fortunate for the experience.

As an art dealer I was often asked the question, “What should I be painting?”

I remember the answer that popped in my mind and stayed with me ever since: Thrill yourself.

I’ve been working as an artist for over 25 years now and it’s easy to succumb to the confusion of what to do, market forces, etc. It’s a difficult path, learning how to make art and simultaneously run a small business.

What is it that businesses basically provide? This is an oversimplification but businesses either provide a service or sell something we have been persuaded to want. Art is not something we have to have, but for many of us we like the feeling of artwork in the home or public spaces. I would offer that we create a need in the viewer’s mind by making compelling artworks and ideas that go beyond the commercial clich├ęs.

“Saccades I,” Oil on panel, 24 x 24 inches  Private collection, Denver

In my works I’m not trying to project emotions, tell stories, or represent a scene. Certainly I’ve done these things in the past and they are valuable tools to have, but it wasn’t fulfilling for me. Then I remembered my advice: “thrill yourself.” If the artist is thrilled then many viewers will feel the same.

Some time ago I had a brief conversation with the great landscape artist Forrest Moses. He asked me how my work was going. I replied, “I’m sick of the tyranny of making landscapes.” He wanted to know what I meant by that. I added that I was not happy making pictures of places.

“What do you want to do?” He asked. A phrase quickly came to mind and I told him, “I want to make art objects."

So now I am a painter who wants to make thrilling art objects. Think of those impressionist paintings in their decorative frames. Those works are more like art objects than pictures of things. Okay, that’s a simple goal but when I stepped up to that next blank canvas, it made me realize that the bar for making Art had just gone way up.

When I first started to draw, I put together four reasonably good pastels and showed them to a good friend, a respectable artist and art teacher. He gave me the usual positive comments and complimented me on how quickly I was learning. Then he asked me if I wanted a real art critique. I was certainly ready for that because I thought I was doing very well at the time as a newly minted artist.

He said, “Just because you can draw doesn’t mean you can make fine art.”

There’s truth. I got the tattoo and kept going. Looking back, I could have pushed myself harder but that’s okay, that’s the path I took. However, I often criticized myself for a lack of courage. I felt that if I were attempting braver ideas I would get further quicker. That may be so but I learned much later that it wasn’t courage I needed.

“Soft Blue Progression,” Pastel on sanded paper, 14 x 14 inches  Private collection, South Carolina

On Creating Landscape Paintings

Today I don’t have concerns about doing large-scale works and trying out new ideas. Sometimes I appear pretty daring but that’s not what’s going on. I simply have more experience in solving problems. I’m not shy about getting into difficult positions anymore because I have more solutions.

I’m struggling less now but I find that I’m pushing myself harder than ever before to make those fine art objects.

Although I love all types of subject matter it is the landscape that pulls me the most. I’m not working outdoors so photography plays a role. Typically there is something in the landscape that interests me so I’ll get a shot of it and bring it into the studio. I don’t bother trying to represent the scene but rather explore the composition and other elements that intrigued me.

That initial painting is often the beginning of many more on that theme. My real passion is color, so that initial scene becomes a means to try out more color experiments later. I’m reasonably separated from the photograph so another universe opens up with unlimited potential, and so it goes as I continue through more paintings with those motifs of sky, trees, and land.

“Gathering Light II,” Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches  Private collection

In the oil “Gathering Light II” (above), I took a scene that I see every day, all greens and browns, and I pushed it hard. The strategy was to create a powerful, high-color scene. The stronger colors are not diluted, but magnified because they were not repeated elsewhere. It all comes together in a bright, luminous landscape where all of the elements accentuate the others, setting up the glowing red-orange background as a focal point.

The pastel “Wood at the Lake” (below) was a workshop demonstration on painting landscapes. I wanted to get the basics of this scene down and free myself to try out some color combinations. I got into trouble right away with it (how nice to have an audience when you’re scrambling), but it worked out to be a good lesson for all of us. With time running out, solutions had to come quickly. This pastel needed a lot of clarity so I added the aqua and surprisingly, that was a move that helped on a lot of levels. I had been too focused on the colors elsewhere. Once I added the darks and the complexity of those branches the rest was simple and I finished it out with a series of small chromatic moves. The composition was solid enough that the colors hardly mattered at that point—there were so many color options.

“Wood at the Lake,” Pastel on sanded paper, 15 x 14 inches  Private collection, North Carolina

I do far more oil landscape paintings than pastels these days but the pastel Soft Blue Progression is worth mentioning because it was also done under time constraints. My gallery requested something for a small show and since I had a studio full of larger projects on canvas, I had put this off. Now I was down to the day of the deadline, so I quickly sketched in a pattern of treetops, connecting them to a gently arching bit of land. As I began to fill it in, my concern was how to make it compelling. What I had on the paper was a “soft” start so I continued with that poetic vein. I held everything back and focused on making that background glow. That became the prime idea and from there everything else fell into place. I followed that pastel up with new a color combination in the oil painting “Gold Progression.” I’m very happy the gallery pushed me into doing that small pastel.

Earlier I alluded to creative destruction, and offered two examples of this: “Winter’s Morning” and “View to the Foothills, High Contrasts” (both landscape paintings shown below). These oils are the result of my painting over earlier, completed oils that had been in the studio for too long and it showed. I passed by those oils every day and at some point critical mass was reached and they went up on the easel. I had nothing to lose so I went on a fast attack and began to cover up the original oil creatively, letting some of the older work show through.

“Winter’s Morning,” Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches Private collection, Texas

“View to the Foothills, High Contrasts,” Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches Private collection, Colorado

Things were happening quickly and I didn’t stop for a break. I was determined to make a really good start with new color combinations and I would figure out the rest later. To my surprise, each canvas was finished in less than two hours and required just a few minor tweaks the next day.

A Series of Landscape Paintings

OK, there is a trend unspooling here and it doesn’t require endless studio sessions. I decided to pull out a French word I had been saving: saccades. I wanted a new motif where I could endlessly abstract the forest, keep it fresh and produce thoughtful works (art objects) that would thrill me. A French title would be just the right touch, oui?

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 quickly 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 without coming to rest in an obvious place.

About the word saccades: 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, New York Times, April 10, 2008)

I’ve had some nice successes with the two and five foot Saccades and the freedom they brought me. They made me want to try more of the tree forms I like doing but I wanted to keep that fresh look, something the plein air painters do so well. The result was the oil painting “Trees in Half Shade.”

“Trees in Half Shade,” Oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches Private collection, Castle Rock, CO

That painting was another demo from a workshop. The entire idea was to make a good start and that was the case here. When I came back to the canvas about a month later, I could clearly see a number of good options going forward and happily, I wasn’t bogged down, trying to undo too many problems. That good start gave me the clarity to proceed. I decided to keep it loose and more color was added very directly with open strokes. There wasn’t enough contrast and the painting looked a bit weak so I grabbed a dark blue-green, adding it to the foliage and where the shapes made contact to the ground. The painting came alive with the new darks and now it required some stronger colors to keep up. Adding the brighter color was pure fun and I was a bit disappointed when the oil declared itself finished.

In the studio there are always a number of landscape paintings in progress — that way I never have to worry about being inspired to work. Plenty of puzzles are presenting themselves and I simply work on what seems solvable at the time. It’s all about making compelling, fine art objects by any means possible.

So back to the commerce side, I asked a businessman what was the secret to his obvious success. He said, “If you do something really well, making money is a side effect.”

Let’s go thrill 'em!

About Ken Elliott

Ken is a colorist with landscape paintings as the focus of that interest. His works are not portraits of places but scenes that are subjected to abstraction – still recognizable but infused with colors and values beyond the normal. For over 25 years he has explored his landscape themes, subjecting them to dramatic extremes of light and color combinations that are richly stimulating and at times poetic. His works are direct, showing the lessons of the Impressionist as well as Modern schools. For the past 25 years, he has worked primarily in oils and pastels.

“I am continually drawn to the landscape and its infinite variations. The compositions are a starting point for unexpected things to happen. By pushing what is possible in the scene, new potentials are presented and I’m intrigued to follow. The works never follow a straight or efficient path because I am looking for what is not known and to bring it into form. I am trying to thrill myself and offer something new and precious to the viewer.”

View more landscape paintings by the artist:

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

New Work: Saccade XII, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches

Saccade XII, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches $10950 framed
Saks Galleries, Denver, CO
It's good to have a number of paintings going in the studio to work with. In this 12th Saccade, a very textural painting developed because I worked over another oil from 4-5 years ago. The heavy impasto that resulted took me back to those Monet works. It was a joy to create a forest with all of that ready-made texture.

The purpose of the Saccades is to create a painting without a singular point of interest. Doing so presents a number of problems, first being that all the areas on the canvas are equally interesting. This is a good practice for most paintings anyway, so this oil puts that idea to task.

There is the additional game in play here and that is depth. The viewer gets the impression of being in the darker part of the forest looking out. The light is there, but nothing much is revealed. 

There is a considerable forest pattern effect across the 4 x 5 foot space. It has an abundance of complexity and just enough depth to be an intriguing presence on the wall.

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