Ella Nilsson is a portrait and figurative artist. She was born to two artists and grew up mostly in northern New Jersey, and also in Tehran, Iran, where her father is from. Ella continued her artistic pursuits through college, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice/Pre-Law. Ella has lived and worked in Austin since 2007.
As a painter and illustrator, Ella is fascinated by people and the nuances of the human face that reveal the person behind the subject. She uses grayscale contrast as a way to define forms and expression. Often her work examines light and shadow as a way to reveal what is hidden versus what is shown to the world. Ella prefers to work on wood panels, not just for the texture, but also to add a natural element and incorporate the beauty of the wood grain into her compositions. Ella works mostly from photographs, but also takes artistic liberties to create a unique interpretation of her subjects.
Creating art in a series allows Ella to fully explore a concept, much like songs on an album. Her Shady Ladies series, explores the interaction between cast shadows and faces. She added to this body of work with an Extra Shady Edition, which adds another layer of shadows from hats. The latest iteration of the Shady Ladies includes the Convex Edition, which adds a window of color into an otherwise grayscale world; continuing with her theme of contrast, she uses a mix of media for the grayscale and color – acrylic and colored pencil.
Ella has had numerous group and solo exhibitions in Austin since 2009. She is also a member of the largest female and non-binary local art collective, ATXGals. When not working on artwork, Ella enjoys home improvement projects – hence the Handy Bitches moniker, commercial aviation, rooting for the NY Mets, documentaries, playing in a competitive skee-ball league, and cats.