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Washington Voices

Journey woman

Sat., Feb. 9, 2013

Artist wants viewers to ‘travel’ her art

Ellen Paulson’s creations are more about the journey than the destination.

“I am forever experimenting, evolving, and finding new ways to create my pieces,” she said.

Paulson began her journey in Iowa, then California, then Wisconsin, where she owned an art gallery for five years. All along, she created art in many mediums and worked in a variety of artistic fields, including interior design and as a private art teacher.

She simply must create. “I have to get the ideas out of my head or I wouldn’t be able to sleep,” she said.

Her ideas begin with simple marks: lines, doodles or curves that, after many steps, become what they were meant to be.

“I rarely have an idea of what I’m going to paint as far as a subject,” she said. “I lay down paint either by a brush, pour method or palette knife. I then color block and find patterns or shapes and pull them out with ink or a different paint color, then I use ink to draw patterns on top of the paint.”

For a piece titled “Into the Maze,” she documented the steps she took to create it. It began with thin tape and watercolor crayons that she activated with water. She repeated the latter, then added circles and other shapes, more water, more color and then bold lines in ink, until the piece became a maze, a highway to the imagination.

Her work contains movement and balance. They are trance-like studies of patterns that seem to grow and breathe. “I’m obsessed with patterns,” Paulson said. Like oddly shaped mandalas, there’s a meditative quality to her work that allows a viewer to get lost in a mix of flowing, intricate details done in acrylic, watercolor and ink.

Paulson has shown her work in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Louisiana. Currently, her work is displayed in the lobby of the Blue Door Theater, 815 W. Garland Ave. It is her first exhibit in the Spokane area.

“There seems to be a very vibrant and active art community here,” she said.

She moved to Spokane two years ago from Wisconsin after her son headed to Chicago and her daughter to Phoenix. She had visited the area in the past and had a friend here, so she sold all her belongings and hit the road on yet another journey.

Paulson now spends two to four hours a day painting, journeying into color and shape.

“I want viewers, my customers, to ‘travel’ the painting, to follow the flow of the paint, and to feel the details from the ink.”

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