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ARTIST Q&A

Jo Ellis

London, UK

Type of artwork you're most likely to produce?

Mixed media semi abstract artwork of old cities, towns and landscapes.

What is your favourite piece of art you have created?

A mixed media painting titled "Song Birds". The inspiration came from watching a few birds chirping away in a congested city. At the beginning I had difficulty making an abstract image of the concept, but slowly and bit by bit an idea came about and I really love the end result.

If you weren't an artist what other career would you be in?

A yoga teacher. I am fortunate to have both careers running side by side, but 75% as an artist and 35% teaching yoga.

If you could buy one piece of artwork what would it be?

Any one piece of Chinese brush painting by the Chinese master painter Qi Baishi.

What inspires you?

As I spent most of my life travelling and living overseas, experiencing different cultures and diversity, I found old towns and cities are the most fascinating subjects for my artwork.

Delving a little deeper

Why do you do what you do?

As an introvert and I always find it hard to express myself in words yet, when I am working in a painting I am able to express feelings and messages easily. If I could afford to be a full-time artist and be able to paint and draw every day that would be perfect.

Can you tell us about your artistic background/education

I have studied traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting in Hong Kong and in Korea. Later, while living in London, I did an art & design course at a local college.

Do you work in silence or do you prefer a distraction?

I prefer working on my own but not in silence. I always have music around in my studio and plenty of cups of tea. Working outdoors on location is totally a different experience.

I usually have my ears plugged in to music and quite often I am in my own bubble, completely self-absorbed. I love sketching old cities when I am traveling when there are always be people around me.

Sometimes stopping what I was doing to talk to people can be refreshing.

How do you choose the subject matter for your works?

I work on a wide range of subject matters as I learned all kinds of techniques and mediums while in college.

I do think as an artist I should broaden my experience and not be afraid of trying out new methods.

However, because of my love of old cities and rural landscapes I have tended to work on those two subjects more and more recently.

Has your practice changed over time?

Yes, definitely. I used to draw and paint in a traditional way; precise and accurate, but over the years my style has become looser and more suggestive, turning more semi-abstract.

Who are your favourite contemporary or historical artists and why?

I love the works of the Chinese painter Qi Baishi (1864-1957) He was the greatest modern painter in China.

His Chinese paintings are so simple and contemporary. One can see the meaning of his paintings in a few brush strokes.

His works often combined poetry and calligraphy into one.

I also love the Austrian visual artist Hundertwasser. His architectural designs are in harmony with nature and his colourful drawings are fun to look at yet deep in thought.

If you could describe your work in less than 5 words, what would they be?

Diverse, quirky, original, fun

What is the best advice given to you as an artist?

Enjoy doing what you are good at. Be creative, be diverse.