Another artist who has been gloriously brightening my feed has been the fantastic London based artist Ellie Tate @ellietateart
I am so attracted to the gorgeous bright colours Ellie employs (you know we love bright colour!). She yields such power in the mesmerising shapes, as well as her fractured and abstract compositions. Fiery reds, warm blues and saturated yellows.
In our exclusive interview recently, Ellie and I talked colour, the effects of the lockdown, dream dinners, studios and more.
“Visceral, Colourful, Shapey” - Three words Ellie used to describe her own work.
I’m sure you hear this a lot, but the first thing that jumped out to me was your fabulous use of intense colours. Tell me about your colour palette. Is colour important to you?
Yes, my work is very colour dependent. I use colour in a reactive way; it just has to feel right. Colour is a tool for expressing abstract thought and I really rely on instinct rather than reasoning or logic. When starting a painting I often stare at my paints and pick out a number of colours that I think would suit the work but I don’t make specific plans and often change around the colours whilst I’m working. Sometimes a specific colour will come into my head when I’m not at the studio, either when I’m thinking about painting or doing something completely unrelated and then I rush to write it down in order to reflect properly when I’m back at the studio.
Being in lockdown I have noticed my colour palette has changed quite dramatically, mainly in the variety of colours I have been using. I have been reflecting on this change of approach to colour and I have realised how much I rely on colour to fulfil the need to release and express myself. Before lockdown I was obsessed with using three particular colours; pyrole orange, cobalt blue and yellow light hansa. As a combination these colours produce a jarring, bold, visually shocking impact. I was at the studio very sporadically and sometimes just for a couple of hours e.g in the evening after work. I used intense colours to fill large canvases, responding to feelings of frustration and the need to leave the studio with visual evidence that I have accomplished something. However I have expanded my use of colour and explored different possibilities during lockdown which was unplanned and I believe is due to having the luxury of time. I am always assessing how colours interact and communicate with each other.
Ellie, what questions drive your practice?
I question how it is possible to make the abstract and non-visual visual. I am interested in representing an inner, authentic world and a new reality rather than attempting to copy the physical world. I use painting to explore my personal psychology and what my experiences mean but also how this relates to others and the nature of human beings. I make sure to question my practice outside of the actual action of painting. Whilst painting I try to lose my mind in order to connect with my senses and get closer to my subconscious
Can you tell us a bit about your process, and how each of your artwork comes to be?
My paintings originate from quick automatic drawings. I respond to a moment in time immediately through drawing and then attempt to immortalise the moment through painting. I like linking the two approaches; using a pen to record a quick fleeting thought, feeling or moment and then working slowly through it, investigating it with paint. I pay special attention to colour and shape, following intuitions in order to realise possibilities and make choices.
Who or what are your biggest influences, and how do you find them? How do these come out in your work?
I love reading art books and visiting exhibitions. There are particular artists who I regularly look to for inspiration including Joan Miro, Kandinsky, Hilma AF Klint, Georgia O’Keeffe, Picasso, Carmen Herrera, Jean Arp, Ellsworth Kelly, David Hockney. As well as observing their paintings I like to delve in to their writings surrounding their practice. For example Kandinsky’s ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’ was a groundbreaking text which confirmed for me that art is indicative of the soul, an experience which serves both the artist and the audience.
"Visceral, Colourful, Shapey"
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’ve never painted with oils, I will eventually but I’m too happy painting with acrylics at the moment!
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with?
Hilma AF Klint as I love her work and she sounds like a fascinating woman but there is so little written about her - which is annoying as I love to do my research! We would do a seance and have traditional Swedish food, maybe a fish dish.
Can you tell me a bit about your studio space? Where do you like to work best?
I’ve set up a home studio in the lounge during lockdown but I am planning to go back to my studio very soon. I moved to a new space a couple of days before lockdown so I haven’t been able to use it yet. It’s a lot bigger than my previous studio and also has a window (!) so I am very excited to get to work. I have been painting smaller canvases at home and I am definitely feeling the need now to work larger. I have to work alone otherwise my mind gets a bit foggy and it’s hard to get into the zone.
What are your artist essentials Ellie?
I always make sure to carry sketchbooks and pens in my bag so I can grab them when the moment comes. Paint-wise I mainly use Liquitex acrylics. Snacks and tea are also studio essentials!
What do you listen to when working?
I move between listening to podcasts and audiobooks, music and just silence. Usually it depends on my mood or how the work is going. My absolute favourite days are when the music is loud, I’m dancing around the studio and are in the flow of a painting - it is the best feeling ever! I find music can be very conducive to painting when I am in the right state of mind.
Do you ever feel nervous about parting with your work? Do you see your work as autobiographical? As separate entities…?
When a painting is finished I like to keep it in the studio for a bit. It's all-consuming making the work so it’s like a settling period afterwards, just having it in the environment even if I’m not really looking at it. But I move on to new work quite quickly so I don’t feel too nervous about parting with them. I get what I need by painting so hopefully someone else will get what they need by looking and having the work in their home. Even if a group of paintings are similar in style, e.g the blue orange yellow paintings, I do see them as separate entities because they are taken from separate experiences. It’s about immortalising a moment whilst also recognising its impermanence in terms of existence and memory…if that makes sense??
What 3 words would you use to describe your artwork?
Visceral, Colourful, Shapey (I know it technically isn’t a word but it's always where my mind goes when I’m asked this question!)
Favourite historical female artist?
So many but I have a big soft spot for Georgia O’Keeffe. Frida Khalo is also just the most inspiring woman and artist.
Favourite current practicing female artist?
Has to be Yayoi Kusama, I am slightly obsessed with her. I also think Rose Wylie is great, her approach to making art is so free.
Who should She Curates interview next?
Kate Dolan, Flora Bradwell, Florence Mytum
Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Thank you and girl power!!