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The art of depicting skilled, pretty and delicate items

My approach to painting has been irrevocably influenced by my former career as a fashion designer. I now create stylish paintings with my sartorial vision. Designing a collection often starts with a mood board – a mash up of inspiration and things you love, that are then put together to come up with something new. In the same way my art is inspired by a mix of my tastes: the dark drama of chiaroscuro, Dutch still life, fashion illustration, advertising photography, fashion, jewellery, perfume, magazines, colour and branding.

I paint things that I like and that interest me. I adore perfume, and many of my artworks are based around the bottles. As well as admiring their design - the symmetry of the classic Chanel flacon or the imagination of the Jean Paul Gaultier torso, their reflective qualities appeal to me. The challenge of painting glass never fades, the attempt to depict in paint something translucent, to use your brush to capture in strokes what is essentially clear! It is like trying to paint nothing, and that is the approach I find works best – to put very few marks on the canvas and let your brain fill in the information.

The wealth of heritage in historic brands such as Hermes and Tiffany & Co are always a source of ideas that I return to consistently. My ‘Hermés Orange’ series is a playful contemporary take on the traditional still life genre where the dramatic use of light and dark draws on the art I have long admired from the Dutch Masters. The artworks explore the concept of ‘Hermés Orange’ – the brand’s use of the colour as a house signature – the oranges are painted with care to capture the beauty I see in the glistening ribbon like peel, and these are subtly placed against Hermes logo ribbon and packaging.

Quality packaging is a passion of mine – I admire the beauty of a Tiffany box with its textured thick cardboard, in that iconic blue colour that people have lusted after since 1837, or the elegance of the rope logo that Prada has used since its inception in 1919. The reason that so many of these brands logos and colours haven’t altered over the years is a testament to their original genius and I respect this greatly and want to celebrate it. I have sold many framed box lid artworks – meticulously painting diamond tears on tiffany boxes or scarf icons onto Hermes boxes, or scenes from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ onto their bags – to me these packaging’s should be celebrated as artworks; as canvases for creation, rather than thrown away.

Having spent so much of my life choosing fabric it is natural to want to capture their textures and pay homage to the craftmanship needed to create a beautiful silk or lace. As I understand how the textile is constructed, I try to replicate that weave in my meticulous brushwork. My lingerie paintings are meant to rejoice in the beauty of the everyday – to bring to your attention just how pretty and how skilled the delicate items are. The first painting I ever exhibited in the Mall Galleries London in 2017 was of a bra, this was sold at the private view that was opened by HRH Princess Michael of Kent! Since then I have exhibited yearly with the SWA.

Colour is another area that fascinates me: the history & psychology of association, how the exact shade of a seasonal colour can be the difference between designer clothing and high street, and the fact that some brands can be recognized solely by their colour. I have made a series of artworks based on this idea, using the format of colour matching ‘paint chips’ that include Tiffany Blue, as well as NHS blue, which I used to raise funds for the NHS during the first lockdown in the UK. (Photo is off my NHS Blue painting lit up on Oxford Street)

Anne-Marie Ellis

IG/FB @ellisartworks

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