A MODERN MASTER
“If Hieronymus Bosch, Norman Rockwell and Salvador Dali bore a child, it would paint like Ellis.”
A broad spattering of ‘whimsical’, a healthy dollop of ‘bizarre’, all blended with a classical stroke of ‘sarcastic genius’, it is a simple fact that experiencing Ellis’ highly detailed and colorful work has a strange effect on soul. At once both entertaining and thought provoking, the onlooker is sure to walk away with a lightened spirit, a childlike grin and the feeling that there were deeper levels of understanding lurking in this work, flittering just beyond one’s ability to consciously grasp.
It is difficult to define a person or his art in words, far more difficult to define the life of a person in a sentence. If such a thing were possible, it would be said that ‘Ellis loves life and life loves Ellis’. Father, grandfather, husband, award winning illustrator, Time Magazine Cover artist, spiritual advisor, martial arts master and instructor, award winning gardener, bonsai practitioner, adjunct assistant art professor, bridge tender, soul traveler, author, film director, skier, scuba diver, motorcycle and marine aquarium enthusiast, and oddly, a corporate operations manager overseeing 50 movable drawbridges for the State of Florida. Ellis’ life is as diverse and faceted as the colors and subjects he paints.
While Ellis wears many hats, Ellis insists that deep down he is just an artist, a humble servant and vehicle of creative spirit. Ellis espouses that we are all ‘Soul’ having a ‘Human Experience’. Ellis makes a clear distinction that we, as in you and I, don’t ‘have’ a Soul, but that we ‘are’ soul. In Ellis world beauty is found in all beings and things, even in the hideous, the bizarre and the mundane.
“From my earliest memories, I have always had an intense love of art! Creating art, in any form, has always been and remains a spiritually liberating experience. Art is an infinite boundless universe without judgment, rules or limitations imposed by the everyday oppressive mundane physical world.”
After Graduating in 1982 as an Illustration Major with a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art, I relocated to New York City to peruse my art career. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s I developed my skills as a freelance illustrator working in all areas of the publishing industry. From the cover of Time Magazine to advertisements and book covers, I have had the opportunity to paint every conceivable subject. Serving many years as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I had the privilege of mentoring hundreds of aspiring young artists. Retiring from teaching and commercial illustration in 1998, I was able to focus all my energy into creating paintings which truly satisfied my creative nature.
From the time of 5 years old, I have always used acrylic paint and I still love it. Employing a layering technique which I have developed over the decades, I lay down layer upon layer of shades often building in as many as 30 layers over a single area. The upper surfaces I complete using a dry brush feathering technique. I garnish the top with several seal coats of Gel medium glaze. Most people are surprised and confused when they find out my pieces were not painted in oil. The brushes I primarily employ are Windsor newton Series 7 red sables. The finishing touches are completed with a triple zero brush. I love the control the brush affords.
I paint only on 100 % cold press rag boards from England and Italy vintage 1940 Whatman and 1950 Fabriano boards. The fine tooth texture of these antique rare boards are like no other available today. My lifetime stock of art boards were purchased from an elderly man named Vinny at an art supply house in Philadelphia, which went out of business and from the estate of the late Louis Kappe (a famous watercolorist from the 50’s)
JON ELLIS'S CLIENTS INCLUDE
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Field & Steam
Heart Association of America