Shady Ladies

Latest work, Shadows Series (aka Shady Ladies)

The latest and current series I’ve been working on is my shadows series, affectionately nicknamed “shady ladies.”  There’s a new gallery page up, under the artwork drop down menu, where they can all be viewed.  As I add more to this series, I will continue to update.  I’m also fortunate to have sold some works from this series; the sold paintings will be denoted in the comments of each image.

This series was a fun challenge, to examine how the shadows from the hand distort across the face.  It was also an exercise in simplicity, how much detail do you give the viewer to understand the image, but without compromising simplicity.  Working on wood helps me to whittle (pun intended) the image down just to its most important parts; I know I want to leave some of the background exposed, so that enables me to make some key decisions ahead of time.  The most challenging part is trusting my hand and line work.  If I mess something up, there’s no painting it back to wood.  As fas as the concept behind the series, there are examinations of exposed parts and hidden parts, and also something about being overshadowed or kept in the shadows.

New series – the 3″ by 9″s

I was looking to start a new series and was inspired by comic books.  The concept was to work with wood panels to represent a single pane in a comic book page; my goal was to tell only a moment of the story, letting the viewer decide what happened before and after the image.  I found these 3″ x 9″ canvasses and their shape helped me choose what kinds of objects to incorporate with the women subjects.

For the first painting, I chose to work with a woman looking through blinds.  The challenge for me, as with the rest of the series, was to be able to tell enough of a story in such a small space.  I’ve entitled this painting, “She Peek.”  Thanks for looking.

Day Thirty-One – The Grand Finale!

Often, the toughest part of a mini-series is ending it.  I chose the wisdom of Obi-wan, who said, “In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.”  This is also why I entitled this one as “Buzzkill;”  way to take it there, Obi-Wan. Perhaps a better quote, from another fictional character, would be Batman’s Two Face who said, “Sometimes you make your own luck.”

This series was certainly a lot of fun to create and it was interesting to learn about good luck symbols from all over the world.  Regardless of how little or how much luck and superstition plays into your daily life, the history behind these notions is fascinating.  Thanks so much for looking.

Day Twenty-Seven – Break a Leg!

This is one of the weirder “good luck” expressions, as generally speaking, breaking any bone isn’t so lucky.  In my super limited research, this notion comes from the expression “lucky break,” meaning not a literal break, but more like an awesome opportunity.  Now onto the drawing bit.  The first thing I thought of for this drawing was C-3PO and his broken leg, especially because it is not so gruesome to illustrate.  Additionally, I was flying on a plane, en route to visit my pal, Val, in Oakland, and too cheap to pay for Wi-Fi…and like a dummy, I didn’t keep any reference images on my phone of our gilded friend.  I wound up drawing 90% of this from memory, and then making some adjustments once I could confirm what the droid actually looked like.  Thankfully, being a nerd and giant star wars fan, made this task not too awful.

Day Twenty-Five – Lucky…bird poop

Have you ever heard that it is lucky if it rains on someone’s wedding day? I think this notion of lucky bird poop is similar; it’s about trying to make a negative into a positive.  Sure a good attitude can go a long way, but I would prefer my luck without the excrement.  In today’s drawing, we see our favorite obnoxious beach bird delivering his luck to the unsuspecting.  Luck out, below!

 

Day Twenty-Four – Shooting Star!

The funny bit about shooting stars or falling stars is that they are not actually stars at all.  They are actually meteoroids falling into Earth’s atmosphere and burning up.  The trail of light is called a meteor, and if any space debris makes it to the ground without burning up, it is called a meteorite.  The reason they were probably thought to be a star is because when burning up, they emit a similar light level.

Day Twenty-Three – The luck of the keys

And no, I’m not talking about Florida.  I learned a lot about different lucky charms while working on this mini-series.  Prior to this, I had no idea keys were considered lucky, but given their symbolism , it certainly makes sense.  Keys open doors and give people access to otherwise restricted areas, including such notions as the key to one’s heart.  For these reasons, keys have been seen as lucky in various parts of the world.

Day 18 – A Kiss for Luck!

As an avid Star Wars fan, I had to make sure this image snuck in the Buena Suerte Series.  In this scene, Luke has just freed Princess Leia from her cell, and they are trying to escape the Death Star.  En route to their ship, they need to swing across a giant crevasse to the other side, with Stormtroopers in hot pursuit.  Right before they make the leap, Leia kisses Luke on the cheek and says “For Luck!”

Spoiler alert: It worked!

Day Fourteen – Lucky Penny

“Find a penny, pick it up.  All day long you’ll have good luck!”

Not all good luck charms have their own little rhyme, so I suppose the penny is extra lucky.  That, and my sister loves Abraham Lincoln.  From what I have read on the subject, the luck of picking up coins comes long before the penny’s existence.  In ancient times when coins were used as currency, finding loose change on the ground was considered a gift from the gods!  The extra layer of superstition with the penny depends on whether the coin is found heads up or heads down.  Apparently, you can also turn a heads down penny over, to let the next finder collect the luck – it is only considered bad luck if you take it with you.  You know, if you believe that sort of stuff.

Day Thirteen – Black Cat

When I started this series, my Irish stepmother was quick to point out that black cats are considered lucky in Ireland.  When I was plotting out what I would draw for each day, Friday the 13th seemed like the best choice – a mix of good and bad luck!  This black cat is extra special; it is of the Manx breed, originally hailing from the Isle of Mann.  The Manx cats come in two main types: Rumpy and Stumpy, which signifies how short their tail is.  Here the Manx is shown with the coat of arms from the Isle of Man, featuring the triskelion (3 legs) with the quote in latin that translates to “Whichever way you throw it, it will stand.”

Day Twelve-Lucky Bamboo & Goldfish

Lucky Bamboo is kind of a misnomer; it doesn’t actually belong to the bamboo family. However, it is considered good luck and believed to bring happiness and prosperity.  As the legend goes, placing the “bamboo” stalks in groupings of 3, 5 or 7, will bring about the most luck.

Goldfish have been considered lucky all the way back to the time of ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks. In both cultures, goldfish were seen as lucky omens and kept as pets in homes.

She Shattered

For this piece, I liked the contrast of the woman really happy, with shards of glass in her mind.  When things deconstruct in life, it is seldom pleasant.  However, the good thing is that you can rebuild on your own terms, and perhaps that’s something to smile about :)

She Timed

A girl so nice, I painted her twice.  Both my parents are artists and I’ve been encouraged to draw and create from a really young age.  While I was always a patient kid (a hobby of mine was building card houses?!), when it came to drawing hair, I usually rushed through it.  In more recent years, and perhaps because a friend of mine is a hairdresser, I’ve come to appreciate hair more and more.  With that being said, I loved the hair so much on the prior model, that I’ve used her again for this work, and I feel it pairs well with the other painting.  This version shows a lady, deep in contemplation and reflection, as the cracked hourglass pours out the sands of time.

She Burned

Oh, she burned.  Expressions stick around because generally they offer some sound advice.  One of my favorites, and a reoccurring theme of late is “Don’t burn bridges.”  This phrase loosely means when relationship ends, it is wise to not end it in a sour way or “burn a bridge.”

I grew up in New Jersey, a mere 20 minutes from New York City, land of bridges and tunnels.  As a nod to this, I chose to use the Hell’s Gate Bridge that crosses the East River as my reference for this painting.  Enjoy!

She Crazy

This piece is dedicated to all the women out there who seem like they have it all together on the outside, but internally feel very, very different.  Also, I dedicate this artwork to women who love fine jewelry and cuckoo clocks.

She Snapped

Ever have a memory so vivid you could recall it in your mind, the same way you look at a photograph?  That’s what this piece is about.   My mom and I joke with one another about the things “your brain takes a picture of.”  Those moments, regardless of how long ago, are stuck with you – both good and bad.  Even while you’re doing something as mundane as brushing your hair ;)

She Overhead

I happen to be a big fan of antiquated things.  I like looking at things that used to be the latest and greatest, but are now basically reduced to objects, no longer serving their original function.  Case in point, the overhead projector, which has since been replaced by sleeker, smaller, ceiling-mounted projectors that connect to computers.  When I was a kid, I was fascinated how you could photocopy onto a clear piece of paper and enlarge that image so that the whole classroom could see it all at once.   The light bulb was so strong that it would illuminate every spec of dust that blew by, which was both cool and gross at the same time.   So here’s to you, Overhead projector, forever honored in this piece.

She Dig

Ever hear Peter Gabriel’s “Digging in the Dirt?”  That is the same concept I explored in this piece, and is a reoccurring theme in this series.  We all have things locked away in our minds; memories, experiences, things we want to remember, or things we’d rather forget are all buried deep in our minds.  Regardless what is going on with her superficially, she’s doing some digging – the kind that requires an excavator.  Fun Fact: I was originally calling the construction equipment a “backhoe,” but was promptly corrected by friends with kids that love trucks that it is in fact an excavator.   Always nice when 3 year olds can correct you and keep you on point. ;)

 

She sunk.

When I started this painting, I said to my husband,”Is there something wrong with me?  Lots of people paint happy things, like landscapes or a still life.”  He assured me that there wasn’t.  I suppose there are lot of different emotions thatmake up the human experience, and I suppose I find the melancholy ones the most interesting to paint.

Anyway, this little painting comes in at 8″ square and is entitled “She sunk.”

 

She twisted.

The latest in my “Perspectives” Series, this little 6″x12″ painting is entitled “She twisted.”  Suffering from either an intentional or unintentional blindness, this little lady shows us what’s going on inside her stomach.

I heard a story on the radio that there are specific chemicals that live only two places in your body: your brain and your guts.  Interesting to think that your intestines may have something inexplicable in words to do with your conscious thoughts. Is this why we use the expressions “gut reaction,” or “what does your gut say?”

She upstairs.

Here is the latest painting from my “Perspectives” series.  This one is entitled “She upstairs.”  A solemn, poised girl shows the viewer that she is opening up the attic in her mind.

The idea for this painting came when I was up in my attic for the first time, quite literally. Our HVAC was not working, which August in Austin is a terrible time to be without air-conditioning. Being the handy bitch that I am, I wanted to take a look at what was wrong and see if I could fix it in the future.  Aside from learning a lot about condenser lines, I also considered the metaphor of what going up into the attic could look like in terms of a painting.  This painting is pretty small; it’s only 6″ by 12″.

Please enjoy/reflect/ponder the result below.

sheupstairs

She sinks…

 

I finished up this painting about a month ago, but I forgot to post it.  Usually I finish a piece before moving on to the next one, however this one took well over a year to finish.  Between start and completion, I got engaged and married and went on a trip to Peru, so at least I have some great excuses.

She sinks really puzzled me for a while too; it took a long time looking at it to figure out what I wanted the end result to be. I knew the general idea I wanted to convey, but really struggled with getting there.  What’s nice about painting is that you don’t see my earlier renderings of the water, you can only see what’s on top.  Which is great for the both of us.

What’s also funny about this painting was that I unintentionally made it look kinda like my friend, Maki.  She was born on April 15th, which was the same day the Titanic sank.  I knew all of this when I started the painting, so did my brain just decide to make it look like her?  Was my subconscious filling in those blanks when I came up with the subject of a girl nonchalantly drinking tea whilst a ship is sinking inside of her noggin?  Or is it all just a coincidence…

Hey thanks, Skyline!

Just wanted to give a huge thanks to the fine folks at SkylineArtEditions.com for featuring me as their “Artist of the Month” for June!  Pictures are up on their site of my studio & home and they interviewed me as well. In addition, for the entire month, all my fine art prints are 20% off with the code, EllaJune.

Click on the banner below or on this link, http://skylinearteditions.com/ellanilsson/ to check it out!

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She wrecked.

I’ve completed a new painting for your viewing pleasure.  Here we have a seemingly sweet girl with a soft smile, with something far less innocuous going on.  I really appreciate how different people can look at art and think/feel different things.  My favorite two responses from friends have been “The bridge and tunnel crew!” and “Sometimes, you just run out of track.”

She cold.

The series continues!  In “She cold” we’re looking at a poised and cool (pun intended) lady.  Since we’re allowed to see inside her noggin, we see an old-time ice block which is causing her frigid exhale.

For my fellow ladies out there, who have been called such words “cold” or an “ice princess,” I dedicate this to you.  No one knows what’s inside our heads, but people, even complete strangers, feel they need to apply these labels. Out loud. To us.

 Apparently for men it’s called “stoic” but for us gals, we just cold.  ;)

kitty (and pup) pals

I’ve known Shelby, my friend and neighbor, for almost 7 years.  We’ve watched each others’ pets while the other is on vacation.  That’s trust right there.  She has been such a good friend to me, and helped me with the deaths of two of my kitty pals over the years.  To express my thanks, I wanted to surprise her with portraits of her furry family.  One of her friends conspired with me; she snapped pictures of her gang and sent them my way to work from.  See the finished project below.  The canvases are small; four inches square and an inch an a half deep.  The surprise unveiling was a success!

 

only child valid until…

My friend & co-worker Pamela asked me to help out with her pregnancy announcement.  She and her husband already have a son, so they figured he should have an active role in delivering the good news!  Great idea! Pamela asked me to make a sign for their son to hold, saying that his time as the only child would only be valid until their due date.  I was happy and honored to partake :)  I chose a chalkboard style of hand lettering as I wanted it to flow with and compliment the shape of the masonite board. Hope you enjoy the final result!

Just the three of us (for now…)

My buddy Seth from high school reached out to me to help him with a birthday surprise for his wife.  He asked me to draw a portrait of him, with his wife and kiddo.  Getting three people just right in a single photograph can be kind of difficult, so I used four separate photos to compile them in all one shot.  Also, congrats to Seth and company, as they are expecting another baby!

 

Now with kung-fu grip!

It’s not all that often that I work in color.  I was a little intimidated when I was asked by a fellow skee-ball player to draw portraits of his team members, the Skee-I Joes, in color.  The illustrations would be assembled and photoshopped on to vintage GI Joe boxes and then used for the team and individual roller trading cards.  Regardless of my initial concern, I was pleased with the outcome! See the portraits below,  as well as the final result.

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For the love of the lane!

My beloved brewskee-ball league, asked me to do some paintings/murals in the new home of the league!  I was honored! The bar is called Full Circle Bar, named after a full circle in skee-ball, which is all 40s in one roll.  Some simple math: 40×9= 360, as in 360 degrees or a full circle.  Get it?

Here is one of the murals in progress, with me doing some progressing.  “I believe in yourself” is a quote from a roller in the city of Wilmington, NC.  Good advice for sure!

 

Back in Business!

I feel like a slacker, but with *kind of* the best reason.  I’ve been in a lull when it comes to creating artwork, but that is because I got engaged and married!

My husband proposed on August 11th, 2014 and we were married on April 26th, 2015.  We had a very lovely and very DIY wedding (more on that later), and I made the difficult decision to pull the plug on a tentative show I had planned for November 2014.

However! I’m back in business working on completing my new series, soon to be formally named, and this is the first installment in it.

 

tis the skeeson!

Fact: I play in a competitive skee-ball league.  I’m stoked that they are having the fifth annual national championships (BBNC Brew skee-Ball National Championships) again in Austin!  Not only was it fun attend, but also to compete!  I’m even more stoked that I was asked to do some artwork for the flyers for the event!  I drew a portrait of the top roller from every city, and I’m pretty pumped about the results!  See below!

traskeesnakes on a lanejoey the cat

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