Coffee with a Creative: Eva Ellie

I am very excited to introduce you to Eva Ellie today! She is an artist who I discovered early on and have been continually inspired by her sense of whimsical illustration. She resides in Norway- a dream country and also a land I'm sure would bring about imaginative inspiration. After learning more about her through our coffee conversation (virtual, of course), despite the distance between us, I feel that there is a connection that we share in our work practices and struggles. It makes me appreciate the beauty of her work all the more and I hope you will too.

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What's one of your first memories where art played an integral role in your life?

Art and creativity have always played a central role in my upbringing and life. Some of my earliest memories of being influenced by it originate from elementary school. I remember my 4th grade teacher always drawing beautiful illustrations on our classroom chalkboard using colorful chalks, often inspired by our monthly themes or the holidays. I remember I wanted to be like her and be as good in drawing as she was.

Art has somehow always been a way for me to escape reality and became a tool for me to create places where I would like to be instead. While reading books as a little girl I would start imagining what all these worlds and places would look like if they were real. 

In other ways I used art and creating as a reward for myself for finishing homework or tasks I didn’t really want to do. Sometimes I rushed them because I rather spend time on making a clay figure or cut and glue paper collages. I think it was easier for me to express myself through these creative activities, and a way for me to process all the theoretical subjects.

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Why do you create now?

Creating for me is still much like it was for me when I was little. I do it because I love illustrating places and situations that create a certain atmosphere and transport the observer into a different world. Illustration is a way for me to cope with the whole spectrum of emotions, both the good and the bad. I can often look back at old pictures and see what emotions I poured into them. Although it can be really tough to create when I feel down, once I start painting it can really help me get back in a better mood.

I also create because I simply cannot live without it. I tend to get ideas on the strangest locations and the most inconvenient hours, like when I’m supposed to go sleep. Most of the time there are so many ideas floating around in my head, that they can become too many. And so I illustrate them, or sketch since that’s a little quicker!

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What do you consider a successful day's work? 

I don’t have a specific answer to this, it can vary from day to day. Some days are successful because I managed to sketch for an hour. Other days I can feel accomplished because I worked for hours and hours and the time just went so fast that I wish there were more hours. But I guess a good day would consist at least of some painting and working out new ideas, whether that be writing down small stories or making tiny sketches. Most importantly, on a successful day I’m feeling inspired and excited about new ideas and what I’m doing.

How do you seek out opportunities in your work?

At the moment I’m focusing mostly on challenging myself and developing my style while building my portfolio. I haven’t been actively seeking out work opportunities, but the next step I want to take is opening up a small online shop where I can sell originals and prints of my work. I’m also working on some small stories that I would like to get ready for pitching.

What are some things that you struggle with in the creative life?

Oh there can be a lot of struggles some days. Some days I struggle with comparison. There are so many talented and hardworking artists out there that are so good at what they do. I guess the most important thing with this, in my opinion, is what we can learn from other artists and translate into our own work while staying authentic and true to ourselves.

I find my taste in art and illustration is very wide, and it can make it difficult to navigate and find my own voice because I like so many different styles. The past few months I have been trying to take time for myself and just sketch without looking at what others were doing. All of a sudden there appeared a rather different and genuine style than what I had been using for the past years. I guess it can be a good thing to take a little distance from social media when struggling with comparison and finding your own voice!

I also put the bar really high for myself. I constantly want to get better and try to challenge myself doing new things. I think it’s good to challenge your self and develop your methods and techniques, but for me this sometimes results in anxiety. When the bars are too high I can get so anxious that I can’t even start painting, it can feel like there is an invisible barrier that stops me from putting down that paintbrush and paint. A solution for me is to just simply start painting slowly and not expect too much of the result. Most of the time it’s enough just to get over that hump and start creating.

Working a fulltime job on the side is another challenge I’m facing. It’s hard to carve out time after a whole day of working. Luckily my job leaves me with plenty of energy, but there are many days where I just don’t manage to pull myself upstairs into the studio and work. I’m trying to learn to accept that not every day is going to be productive. Some days it might be more important to find inspiration and ideas, while other days might consist of using these ideas to create an actual illustration.

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Who are some other artists/makers that have inspired you along the way?

Too many to write down! I grew up with illustrators like Fiep Westendorp, Beatrix Potter and Leonard Roggeveen, and they still inspire me today. Right now I’m devouring all the works by Theodor Kittelsen, Anton Pieck and Ilon Wikland.

What do you listen to while you work? 

This varies daily. Sometimes I need to work in total silence. Other days I love some upbeat music from the 60s and 70s. Most of the time I have some kind of movie or series running in the background that I have seen many times before. I think it makes it a little bit cozier around me, like there are others around me in the room. Occasionally I listen to podcasts, but I find it hard to concentrate on it while painting so I only hear half of the content being played and end up needing to play it all over again.

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What are you enjoying in your down-time currently?

Well, most of my down time I use illustrating. When I’m not doing that you can find me trying a weird new recipe that I found through Instagram, and ends up looking a lot worse than in the actual photograph. Or you would find me going for a walk or run in the local forest, especially in the summer after a big rain shower, the smells... Also love devouring series on Netflix when everything else gets a bit too much.

Where can I find your work online?

You can find me here:
Website: www.evaellieo.com
Instagram: evaellie_illustration

Thank you Eva, for sharing your heart with me and my readers today! Your honesty is inspiring and beautiful. Now, please go and give her a follow and some love on social media! 

Spring Equinox Inspiration

I came across these images recently of a flower shop in France and I fell in love immediately. (They are screenshots from a commercial that I don't have a source to, so if anyone can provide that, I'd be most grateful!) Don't they just seep with Romance and imagination and dreamy atmosphere?? I can't stop staring at them and I'm transported to a perfect environment for the spring season. I think I'd be content to go here to just sit and sketch for a while while taking in the sunshine. What a dream! Do you have any far away spaces that you find yourself traveling to in your mind? I'd love to hear about them!

Inspiration for a Moody Monday

Winter Blues are in full force around here lately with cold winter weather, a battle against a bodily cold and a tiring of the hibernation mode. I've been needing some escape, and the other day I happened to see the images that I'd been pinning lined up together on Pinterest- they seemed to fit perfectly, so I thought I'd create a small grid here to show you what's been catching my eye. Perhaps I'll just get lost in these images to escape the humdrum... 

Sources:
1. Nicole Franzen
2. Cashemere & Plaid
3. Style Lovely
4. Local Milk

Spring Things

I had meant to post these earlier, but as always, life got in the way. I've been trying to capture more small moments of life on my camera, trying to stop and see the beauty in amongst the daily tasks. These are a few of those moments that I found in Spring- a good few from a trip to the prairies where I always seem to find the inspiration I need. 

"We stopped when we saw horses. You were frightened of making them run, and you stayed in the car. They were the colours of pecans and walnuts. Their heads were raised, attentive. I padded through the long grass, listening to my breathing, listening to theirs, inhaling the green field smells and the horses' scent, like paprika and clover."
-Sean Michaels, Us Conductors

100 Days of Paintings by Jenni

In case you have missed it, I just thought I would share a little project I'm working on (if you follow me on instagram or facebook, you might already know this!) There's a challenge put on by The Great Discontent to do something creative for 100 days and post about it. I had heard about it through another instagram account I follow about a month ago and was intrigued, but didn't think much on it until a week ago or so. I'll share what I wrote for my intro post on instagram as an way to introduce you to my project:

I've been feeling a lot of pressure the past two weeks... Pressure to perform, to create for others, and if I'm honest, to create for money. But the funny thing is, no one is expecting that from me- I'm putting that pressure on. I'm hearing voices that don't exist, telling me to do better, make more, succeed. 
So. I've decided to take part in#the100dayproject despite being over halfway late. But this won't be for any purpose except to simply create- to challenge myself to make something everyday simply because I want to and enjoy the process. Also, an act of worship, because this gift is not my own. 

So far, it's been such a freeing experience and I'm finding that creating with no pressure at all is giving me more passion about what I'm making! It's a little daunting to think about making 100 paintings in 100 days, but I'm giving myself some leeway because for me this isn't just about the challenge, but the removal of pressure in my creative life! If you would like to follow along, follow me on Instagram and to see all of the paintings together at any point, just follow the hashtag, #100daysofpaintingsbyJenni