CARSON ELLIS // la vista

On view February 10–March 13, 2018
Artist reception Sunday, February 11 (3–5 p.m.)

Following one’s heart, and harnessing and acknowledging one’s artistic strengths—in Carson Ellis’s case, that she is first and foremost an illustrator—is a maker’s most valuable resource. This strength Ellis embodies to the fullest with her upcoming solo show, La Vista, her fourth at Nationale. The pieces presented here are a combination of her versatile oeuvre, pulling on her skills as illustrator and artist alike. Done in ink, gouache, pencil, and ballpoint pen on paper over the past five years, this powerful amalgamation of sketches and drawings highlight the very essence of Ellis’s artistic process. 

Ellis vows to someday take a long break from her commitment as an illustrator (mostly of children books and as the band The Decemberists’ artist in residence) and make a series of massive landscape paintings. In the meantime, she makes it an effort to create little drawings and paintings that aren’t illustrations whenever she can. “Personal work”, if you will. Ellis draws on trains and in hotel rooms while on book tours—in fact, a large inspiration for the subject matter and presentation for this group of drawings is drawn from such train rides and a state of perpetual motion. And with kids, a mother will never stop moving. Ellis makes pictures with her family at the dining room table. She experiments with inks between other projects. She sketches en plein air. She claims, “If I didn’t somehow eke out time for this, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate how magical and lucky my main gigs are, and I’d never evolve as an artist”. This harmonizing between professional work and personal work is crucial and critical to what she does. And La Vista is precisely that, a small portion of a larger heap. Myriad media and subject matter might be represented here, but all the work chosen felt of a piece to the artist, intimate and sincere. Here’s to hoping it does to you, too. 

Carson Ellis is an illustrator, author, and artist living just outside of Portland, OR. She has illustrated numerous books, including The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket. She is the author of the bestselling books Home and Du Iz Tak? (a Caldecott Honor book and E.B. White Read-Aloud award winner). Ellis has also collaborated with her husband Colin Meloy on the award-winning Wildwood series and most recently on The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, as well as with her son Hank on a series about aliens for the People’s Biennial at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. She is a two-time recipient of the Silver Medal awarded by the Society of Illustrators. Throughout the past decade and a half, she has exhibited original artwork in Portland, OR, at PDX Contemporary Art, Basil Hallward Gallery, Motel, and Nationale, where she is represented.


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