Is it possible to make representational paintings without sentimentality today? And why bother creating representational images from direct observation when you could take photographs instead? I spend a lot of time thinking about these and related questions. The first one's easy to answer: emphatically yes. The second question is potentially trickier, as you have to buy into the idea that painting can say things that other forms of visual expression simply can't...
As a painter, I'm enchanted by the illusion of representation, and believe that paintings--good ones--embody a physical presence that engages our fullest intelligence. Paintings are singular, and made with our hands, and as a result they necessarily convey an artist's sensibility in ways that transcend the explicit subject. Good paintings are also almost impossibly hard to make: they require patience, boldness, skill, humility, and a constant willingness to fail. And paintings reveal themselves over time, in ways that parallel the way they are made: slowly, with missteps and mistakes that are worked through, over and over, in search of a sense of rightness.
For me, the process of painting is a way of engaging with the world that surrounds me, reflecting it back in images that are both distilled and open ended. But it's impossible to paint without being aware of the historical freight that painting carries, particularly at this moment when new forms of media are moving the conversation about what art is (and isn't) in new directions. For example, when I work from the landscape, the paintings I make have as much to do with the way American landscapes have been represented by generations of painters before me as they do with questions I have about what our culture sees or fails to and traditional formal concerns such as form, color, and surface. The same holds true for still lives and figurative paintings, though the specific issues have differed as I've created different bodies of work.
I hold an MFA in painting from Indiana University, and a BA in philosophy and art history from Middlebury College. Currently, I am represented by Gallery 110 in Seattle. You can reach me via email at ellenwixted at gmail.com.