We recently welcomed a new artist, Ellen Rolli, to the gallery. Ellen’s clean and simply composed abstracts immediately caught our eye so we wasted no time inviting her to join the family. We’re so glad we did.
Take a few minutes to get to know this talented artist and take a peek at her gorgeous and edgy abstracts.
HHFA: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?
ER: I grew up in Revere, Massachusetts (fun fact: Revere is the home of America’s first public beach). I attended Revere public schools through high school and graduated college from Boston’s Massachusetts College of Art.
HHFA: When did you start to paint? Are you formally trained?
ER: I began drawing and painting in elementary school and through high school. I consider my self formally trained as I minored in painting at Mass College Art. Subsequently I took many painting workshops years later as I became committed to my art career.
HHFA: What was your inspiration to become an artist? Did you know from an early age or did it happen later in life?
ER: As a young child, my parents nurtured my interest in art. I was also fortunate to have high school art teachers who recognized my artistic abilities and encouraged me to pursue art school. My aunt was a painter, and she was a major inspiration to me. She became a true mentor and we painted together until she passed away at the age of 95. My interest in drawing and painting started at a young age, and I knew early on that art would be an important part of my life.
HHFA: Tell us a little bit about your technique and medium.
ER: I consider myself a contemporary abstract painter. I work in a direct and intuitive style using acrylic paint and a variety of dry media: charcoal, wax crayons, pastels, pencil, etc. I never have a plan when I begin to work, but rather trust the instinctive and reactive process of painting. (HHFA: that’s why your work always looks so organic and spontaneous!)
HHFA: Where do you find your inspiration?
ER: I find my inspiration from so many sources. For example, life experiences and travel play a big part. And, of course, feelings and emotions also play a role in my inspiration.
HHFA: How has your work evolved over time?
ER: Yes! My work has evolved through the years from a painterly, semi-abstract style to abstract or non-objective painting. I felt for sometime that I was working towards abstraction, but understood that shift must happen naturally. When I was awarded a month-long art residency at the Fine Arts Work Center of Provincetown in 2009, that was just the catalyst I needed. I took the leap of faith to move away from my comfort zone and move towards abstraction. I haven’t looked back, and have been an abstract painter since then.
HHFA: Describe your studio.
ER: I share a space with a local interior decorator. The studio is on street level, and just a short walk from my home. I have half of the space which has ample wall space for showcasing paintings, high ceilings, both natural and artificial lighting and a long and wide island perfect as a palette/work surface. I have a view through a large window and glass door of a small but lush park across the street. I no longer work on an easel but hang my canvas or paper on a wall adjacent to my work surface. I have painted hardwood floors in my work area and I let the paint fly! (HHFA: sounds like the perfect studio.)
HHFA: What is your paint day like? Do you listen to music as you paint? Are you on a schedule? Do you have a favorite time to paint? How do you get started every day?
ER: I most often start my studio day in the morning, around 9 or 10 am. I enjoy my walk to the studio, as the walk is pleasant and calming and helps me feel centered for the painting day ahead. Once I enter, I hang out my “Art Studio Open” banner and roll out my big Studio easel onto the sidewalk to let folks know I’m in! The studio is on a quieter side of town so not many interruptions, but I always enjoy having visitors.
I may start painting right away or sit for awhile and contemplate a work in process. When the mood strikes, I get started with my painting process by rolling out a large piece of palette paper onto my work surface and lay out some colors. I may choose to work on a piece still in process or start a new work by hanging a canvas or paper on the wall. I put on some music (Pandora), grab my fave beat-up brushes and begin working. I generally put in a 5- or 6-hour painting day with a break for the lunch I’ve brought.
HHFA: You get to invite three artists to dinner. Who are they and why did you invite them?
ER: Ah, what a dream it would be to spend time with some of my painting heroes!
I would invite Georgia O’Keefe. I admire her unique and innovative work but more importantly her independence and success as a female painter, her mystique. I would love to hear about her time spent living and working in New Mexico.
Another female artist I admire is Perle Fine. Perhaps one of the lesser known female abstract expressionist painters of New York in the 1940s and 50s. I love her work. I’d ask her about the struggles of being a woman abstract painter at a time when female painters did not get the recognition they deserved.
And finally, I would invite Claude Monet. Such a well-known painter. I had a whole new appreciation of his work after visiting his home and gardens in Giverny two years ago. To step “inside” his paintings was truly magical. I would ask Monet to tell me about the process of creating his home and his gardens for his art.
HHFA: tell us your favorite….
Art museum: MoMA
Art city: New York
Movie: The Wizard of Oz
Artist: Nicolas de Stael
Go-to room in your house: Living room
Happy mood song: Ventura Highway
Way to unwind: Reading
Quality in others: Kindness
Wish I were better at: Playing an instrument
Happiest when: I’m with my family
HHFA: thanks so much, Ellen. We found this quote on your site and just love how it captures the foundation of your work:
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way, things I had no words for” — Georgia O’Keefe
Hope you’ll stop by to see Ellen’s work in person at the gallery or take a browse right here on our site. Happy viewing!