“Why so small?” Does art have to be big to be
acceptable? I have found comfort in this small size, this square
format... and yet most of my work does not qualify as “miniaturism.”
Early on I did try quarter sheets, but it's just not how I see
things. When I look at other artists' paintings I am always drawn to
the small ones– the ones that just capture one moment, one item, one
instant all in front of you to absorb. Then the artist's ability
can be appreciated: not the hugeness of the composition but the
brushwork and use of color. I feel that an image doesn't gain
importance when rendered on a large scale– it's the quality of the
“Why strive so hard for realism?” Actually, I
look for the abstract quality in the realism - the way the warm
sundrenched pinks contrast with the purples and blues of the shadows
in a close-up view of snow covered branches. I push these colors
beyond what my eye sees and yet when I’m done the effect of the
pushing is just to have really grabbed the subject.
People ask me, "Where did you study?" I study
art by looking at art, all art. I'm the one who trips the
buzzers by getting my nose too close to the surfaces of the Monets
and Degas’ in the museums. I did not go to fine art school, (my
parents thought it impractical... “You can’t make a living as an
artist...”) but as a student of art history I am well versed in
what makes art enduring as opposed to popular, and hopefully am able
to apply some of that criticism and razor edge editing to my own
images. I also look very carefully at the images I'm trying to
capture. Keeping the focus simple, looking for color contrasts,
finding the really darks... these make compositions pop for
me. I never make up a scene; all my images are real places, real
moments. How could one improve on what God has placed here in front
of us? I say, "I paint from life," but rarely do I paint on-site
because life doesn't hold still long enough to enable me to render
the amount of detail it takes to convey the instantaneity of my
images. I take photographs endlessly and then use these as
references to create finished paintings. The visual beauty of the
earth that God has given us astounds me everyday–
People say, "Wow, these look like photographs!"
and then, embarrassed, say, "I bet you hate it when people say
that." But I realize it's a layman's way of saying the pieces
capture reality: convey depth, light and form. This is my goal, so
I don't mind the comment. I am not about photographic
realism, however, and although my paintings are very small, if you
look closely you can see the brush work– the scribbles and swirls
that added together make up that bank of trees, or field, or ripples
on the water. I want the viewer to see the brush at work; that's
what I like when I look at art – to see the hand of the
- we have lots of winter in Rangeley. I try to capture the crispness
in the air, the minutely different grays, the brilliant blues. I
love it when someone with their nose right up against one of my
paintings turns away with a shiver.
Children - I do children because they are gifts
from God. I capture them just playing, just being, busy inside
themselves... but I reach for the late afternoon sun to warm their
bodies. I push the contrasts: warm skin/cool shadows, looking for
the abstract shapes of the shadows within the confines of the
Landscapes - It stretches out all around my home
inspiring me to the west, the south, across the field to the east,
the sun playing across the win’rows of hay at the end of the day...
Why not paint what’s breathtaking but also so simple? I paint the
same scenes over and over, but it’s always new to me, (and people
rarely notice it’s that same scene; I enjoy pointing that out to
them.) I never get tired of looking out my windows and of watching
the variations that weather, time of day, and sunlight can do to the
same buildings and hillsides I pass everyday. God creates the earth
anew with each sunrise. I want to paint it.
Ellis received her degree in Art History concentrating in Fine Art
from Colby College in Waterville, Maine. She has gleaned stylistic
elements from the depth of English landscapes, the immediacy of
Homer and the simplicity of Japanese compositions. Her small scale
watercolors are tiny gems that convey a huge scale through a loving
rendering of atmosphere and light. She captures the essence of a
scene by keeping the focus tight and the details precise, drawing
you into her world.
We live in the Garden of Eden...
one only has to look.
Pam’s studio is open by appointment.
It is located at 2091 Main Street in Rangeley: on Route 4 one mile
south of Rangeley Village. Please call 207-592-7427 to view her new
works and works in progress.
She is represented by:
Fore Street Gallery in Portland,
Small Wonder Gallery in Camden,
Birds of a Feather Gallery in Rangeley,
Gallery at Stony Batter in Oquossoc.
Pam offers ongoing small group and private lessons for adults in
watercolor technique throughout the year. Contact her for more
details and scheduling. All levels are welcome!