I’ve been painting as far back as I can remember. What has motivated me for most of my adult years is a strong desire to share things that bring joy, whether special moments, visions that come in answer to prayer or simply the way light dances around a beautiful scene. A Helen Steiner Rice poem (no relation) influenced my early career and has stayed with me. She wrote that while we can’t all be “big celebrities” or be listed in Who’s Who, we can each brighten “the spot where we are standing,” and if each of us would do this “by deeds small and large, this dark old world would very soon eclipse the evening star….” I believe that. With these words in mind, the response to my work from a young age has been more than I could have imagined. As an adult, purchases of my paintings and prints enabled me to found a long-running, successful art gallery and support myself (and my rescue dogs) solely with my art for more than 29 years. I am still trying new things with my work, studying, learning about and trying new as well as ancient techniques and tools, but as much as I improve skill, I try to keep in mind that it’s the spirit with which a work of art that is the most important.
Ellen began painting in early childhood entirely for fun, never imagining becoming an “artist.” She won a Maryland state award in the sixth grade for a safety poster that she created but says she didn’t consider she had talent. “I just loved drawing and painting and studying fine old masters oil paintings.”
At age 13, she sold her first oil painting to a fellow art class student and began working as an artist professionally in the 1970s, painting landscapes and seascapes, commissioned oil portraits of children, dogs, cats and horses, illustrating local magazine covers, creating paintings for fund-raising projects and illustrating religious articles for a weekly Delaware newspaper – work which soon lead to a successful career in journalism and publishing.
“Each piece I wrote, each photograph I took or illustration I created was a new learning experience as I strove to get better at it.” As with her art, numerous awards and accolades followed.
This self-taught Delaware artist’s paintings and prints can now be found in private and corporate collections in 18 countries on four continents. There is more to the story of how a female artist in this small, mostly rural state managed to make a living from her art. It can be read on her website, www.ellenrice.gallery.
“I remember praying as a young girl that my life would be a blessing. A long time ago I asked that God use me, my work, in whatever way was needed.
“My hope remains that whatever I do, in whatever corners of the world my work is found, it brightens and uplifts.”