Creative Souls

Creative Soul: Ellen Greene

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One of my favorite ways to spend a morning is having coffee and conversation with other artists and creatives. Recently I had the great fortune of doing a photo shoot with the Chicago based artist, Ellen Greene.  I was first introduced to Ellen through a mutual friend a few years ago and was blown away by her natural beauty and free spirit. She literally wears her art on her sleeve and I was intrigued with her paintings and process from the moment I met her. A perfect mix of feminine mystique and the dark side, Ellen’s work encourages me to think more about my own emotional experiences and their relationship to my personal work.

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Ellen’s personal style and aesthetic is evident throughout her home and studio.  From vintage jewels and collars to handmade dresses dipped in wax, Ellen’s knack for mixing the old with the new makes her work interesting and complex.

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I am always inspired when I visit other artist’s spaces, as their personal process fascinates me.  The collars are a sneak peek of what is yet to come as Ellen embarks on a new project.

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Ellen truly has the unique ability to balance the bad ass with the feminine. I so wish I could do that.

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To view more of her work or to buy a pair of wearable gloves, visit her site.

Ellen’s free spirit and zest for life often leads to collaborations with other artists. You can see Ellen’s latest work and collaboration with tattoo artist, Mario Desa, in For Your Eyes Only,  at Sidetracked Studio in Evanston, IL. The opening is Saturday, July 25 6-9 pm.  More information is available here.

Where did you grow up ?

I grew up in a small town called Lawrence KS. Its just about 30 miles west of Kansas City

When did you become interested in art ?

I was born an artist. My earliest memories are of drawing-its all I did. My mom has pages of

drawings I did at 1 year old. A series of small circles over and over. I’m sure I was pretending

that they were much more than circles but thats all I could do at that time. Going to art

museums were some of my earliest and fondest memories. I remember looking at paintings and

having such intense feelings and thinking about the person who made them and how they were

able to evoke emotions in me through time and space. I thought that was magic.

How do your Midwestern roots influence your art?

My town is a freaky little place where many folk art types and independent thinkers live. Its a

college town full of professors, frat boys, right wing christians, cowboys and hippies. Its

conservative and yet completely wild.

What is the hardest part about your art?

The hardest part of any art making practice is balance. To keep one foot in the space of

creativity and one foot in reality. The head space of art making requires a bit of insanity- I have

to loose touch with the real world a bit to channel the ideas I want to tap into. Its a slippery slope

to go to that place mentally, but its a gift if I can return to the “real” world and then share my

story.

What is the best part about it?

I want my artwork to touch people. I want them to feel like they are not alone. I want to be for

someone else what other artists were for me. Someone that transmits complicated human

emotions and experiences into a visual language that hits us on a deep subconscious level. And

hopefully when people see what I make and relate to it, they are moved into a place of

acceptance or freedom from what they are going through.

Is there a project you’re most proud of?

My series “invisible mother’s milk” was a really deep hard series to do. It really dug into my

experiences with depression, mental illness, addiction, creativity and motherhood. It was both

the darkness and the light. I know it touched people and made difficult conversations around

mothering a little bit easier to those who were open to what I was experiencing.

Some of the things around your home allude to religious symbolism and iconography.. can you

tell me about that ?

I love religious iconography. I think it was those early years in art museums that developed my

love for that type of imagery, I was not raised in religion- the museums were my church. And

those images of jesus and mary were a language I understood. They talked about grace, mercy,

forgiveness, passion, love- so many intense human emotions in those paintings. So I can’t

collect early Northern renaissance paintings but I can collect folk art, and other found “oddities”

that speak the same spiritual language as the fine art. So my walls and many surfaces in my

house are a hodge podge of religious knick knacks.

Your painted gloves contain a bit of irony. What inspired you to blend tattoo like paintings with

such a lady like accessory ?

I love a mix of sacred and profane, the push and pull between the beautiful and grotesque is so

satisfying. Its how I feel as a woman- both lady like and at the same time crawling with snakes🙂

Your live and work in the same space, is it difficult to keep your personal and professional lives

separate? How do you adjust the rhythm together?

I don’t want any separation, I like being in the same place. That way I can always be making. Its

a small space and my studio is the dining room which is pretty focal to the whole layout. I see

my artwork when I wake up and see it before I go to bed. I have had many different studio

situations all with pros and cons. What is most important is that it is dedicated space, and that I

work consistently within it.

What inspires you spiritually ?

I love reading poems by Rumi and books on prayer and mystical devotion. I love myths and

anything that Joseph Campbell wrote.

Creatively ?

My peers, other artist still making work. Its a fellowship of makers that keeps me going.

Emotionally ?

My children. I have to be emotionally inspired to be a better artist. If I didn’t have to struggle and

grow emotionally as a parent I would not be as good an artist as I am today.

How do you stay inspired ?

I am always searching, always looking and looking deeply at life. It can takes its toll all this

“seeking” and seeing and feeling but it the artists job in a functioning healthy society to be a bit

of a bringer of light. Its not always an appreciated job, or well paid job but its important on a very

human level. That keeps me going, knowing that it matters.

Style is…

How I wear my artistry on my body.

Home is…

Where I dream at night

On your mind right now…

Progress not perfection

You have yet to…

Find the next version of myself

Travel must….

Frida Khalo’s home and studio in mexico city. I want to go there SO badly.

Five Favorites:

WORD: Peace

PLACE: New Mexico

FLOWER: Peony

VIRTUE: Forgiveness

QUOTE: “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you

stumble, there lies your treasure” -Joseph Campbell

Happy and Healthy

East Meets West

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One of the things that keeps me healthy is regular physicals, mammograms, dental visits, chiropractic adjustments and full body skin checks.  It seems like a lot to maintain, but after all, some say that our bodies are our temples.  I feel strongly that regular maintenance goes a long way. As my kids complain about brushing their teeth or well visits to the doctor, I remind them that a little time out of their day to maintain their health and well being is much better than hours upon hours at a doctor’s office looking for answers to symptoms, illnesses or disease.  Continue reading

Happy and Healthy

Cassius Clay

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Today is a sad day– we must say good bye to our wonderful dog of 14 years, Cassius Clay.  You may wonder why I would include this under other posts about happiness, well-being, or healthy living, but I include it because Cassius has brought great joy to us and his presence will always remain a happy memory.  Before having a dog of my own, I never really understood what a dog could do for the human soul.  Cassius has been so much more than a furry friend.  He was a constant companion, always at the ready for a visit to the park, a sunrise walk around the block, or a snuggle on the couch.  His snoring will leave ringing in our ears and his love of sunshine and carrots will forever be planted in our garden. Continue reading

Inspiring Minds

Inspiring Mind: Emily Boling of The Floured Apron

For a while now, I have been dropping clues about a secret project I have been working on. Well, now it is time to reveal The Floured Apron !  I have been so inspired to see how this dream has become a reality and I fully admire the bakery’s founder, Emily Boling.

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 The Floured Apron has combined two of my favorite things, sweet treats and social entrepreneurship, and it has been such an honor to document this project from the get go.

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Continue reading

Happy and Healthy

Well-Being and the Natural World

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So much of my personal well-being depends on my connection with nature and the outside world.  As much as I hate the cold, it is of the utmost importance for me to get outside, walk around a bit, marvel at the beauty of a sometimes gray winter’s day, and reward myself with peace of mind and a deep connection to a power outside of myself.  As the weather changes and I have had the great fortune to get out of the cold from time to time this past winter, I find myself relishing in the delights of spring– the bluebells, Forsythia, baby birds, and Daffodils.

Last weekend I found myself in the desert of Arizona and was brought back to a land that has such deep meaning to me.  The flora and fauna in Arizona is so resilient and can withstand such dire conditions, yet at the same time, there is so much renewal and life-the blue skies, Magpies, and the plethora of Cacti will always have me at hello.  I am feeling revitalized and so aware of my surroundings, as it has done wonders for my patience and mindfulness.  I am looking forward to watching the natural world that surrounds me wake up again and begin a new cycle.

This image will serve as a constant reminder to look beyond the every day and contemplate the wonders of nature and the gifts it gives us.

Happy and Healthy

Looking Ahead

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Every day is a new beginning.  Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be.

-unknown

As Spring Break and Easter wrap up, I find myself thinking about how quickly the school year went by and how soon the summer months will be upon us.

In order to keep my  peace of mind and focus on the goals I have set for myself, I find it is best for me to keep my energy up by sleeping a minimum of 7 hours a night, mediate in the morning, connect with family and friends over a homemade meal and allow myself to take some time out and take a leisurely walk every day or so.

I look forward to watching the flowers breakthrough, the birds chirping and the seedlings in the vegetable garden flourish into a home made meal.  What are you looking forward to ?

Happy and Healthy

Beautycounter

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A few months ago I was turned on to Beautycounter by a good friend.  She urged me to watch a quick video and look at the website.  I was intrigued, not only with the products themselves, but the overall mission of the company, which is to get safe products into the hands of everyone.  As I learned more about Beautycounter I was surprised to learn about the lack of regulation for the cosmetic industry in the US and began to question the toxins I was applying to my skin.

And so it is, I am officially announcing my new business venture with Beautycounter.  I have been  passionate about art and photography for a long time, but I also have interest in many other things, especially  a devotion to living a clean and healthy lifestyle.   Now I am taking the next step and no longer ignoring my largest organ – my skin and of course, my family’s skin, too. Keeping my kids safe from unnecessary chemicals is a priority, and they are both now using Beautycounter products daily. I am excited to share our important message and offer chic, high performing body products that are not only great but also SAFE!