This week Brighton Journal spoke to local mixed media artist, Ellie Hipkin. Ellie layers a combination of painting, mono printing and embroidery in order to create stunning artwork that explores nature’s tranquility. Having been a fashion designer for twelve years, Ellie discovered newfound comfort in painting. She describes her work as “a type of creative therapy.” Ellie told Brighton Journal about the new challenges she’s embracing in her artwork, as well as her upcoming shows and workshops. Take a look at Ellie’s inspiring work.
What are you doing today?
I am starting to plan and work on a new painting, my biggest yet! It’s a challenge I have set myself. I really want to try a larger scale but with my type of artwork it is technically challenging to get the canvas through the sewing machine. It will be interesting to see how it goes. You can watch the progress in the next few weeks on my Facebook and Instagram.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
I have a studio space in our house, which I love! It’s right at the front of the house so it has lots of south-facing sun, it’s small but mine!
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
I am working on new artworks the moment, specially a new large painting. It’s going to be challenging but I know I am going to love making it! I am also very excited about a new summer course I am offering at the Made and Making studios in Hassocks. It is a three day course over three weeks, where I will be teaching the three elements of my artwork: painting, mono printing and free motion embroidery.
What made you decide to become an artist?
I was a fashion designer for 12 years before I started painting. After the birth of our first child Freya and I took some time out, then just before her second Birthday she was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. I can’t tell you how life changing type 1 is, especially with such a small child. Constant finger prick testing to check blood sugar levels, injecting insulin every time she eats, treating hypos (low blood sugars which can be life threatening) and the hyperglycemia (high blood sugars which can cause long term complications) – it is content care day AND night! I started painting for just ‘me’, as a type of creative therapy. Over the years my style of painting has changed and developed, but the essence of my artwork is to create the sense of calm that producing the artwork gives to me.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on new paintings for the up and coming Spring shows. I have three shows in March. My first one is in Brighton on the 7th of March, The Maker’s Fair at St. Augustine’s in Fiveways. I am also thinking a head to the Artist Open Houses in May. I am showing One-Six-Nine in the Fiveways Art Trail, as well as the Surrey Contemporary Art Fair and the Sussex Art Fair at Goodwood.
What are the key themes in your work?
My artwork is my way to share how art and nature has had such a big impact in healing me. The use of colour, the layering of the paint work with the mono printing and embroidery, to create subtle depths, mood and atmosphere, but mostly conveying a sense of calm. I hope that every time you look at one of my paintings you see something new, yet giving you nature’s tranquillity in your home.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
The hidden depths of the paint work, the detail within the embroidery work, and the overall atmosphere of calm and tranquillity.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
I use mix media. I paint directly onto Cotton Canvas, I mono print using real grasses and seedheads, and then add the free motion embroidery. What attracts me this style of mix media art is the building up of the layers, creating atmosphere and depth of detail.
What equipment could you not do without?
My sewing machine!
Who or what inspires you?
Nature inspires me – as well as being creative, nature gives me that sense of calm and wellbeing. I try to get the kids out into nature and away from modern distractions as much as possible. I notice it lifts our mood and we play more. When we are out and about I do not look for inspiration, but it can just hit me in that moment, it can be the way the light is over the sea, the mist over the Downs. I then take photos and start colour mixing when I get home. I also love foraging for dry grasses, feathers and seedheads while on the walks, which I then use for the mono print or inspiration for the embroidery.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
A lot of my work is inspired by living by the sea. I love the natural wild flora that grows between the pebbles on the beaches outside of Brighton. There is something powerful about the Sea that inspires me and watching the weather and how it changes colours and texture of the view.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
I think we are very spoilt in Brighton with the lovely Laines, independent shops, café and restaurants. My husband I love trying the many great restaurants, but I love to get the kids out in nature, either walks on the beach or the South Downs.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
I love the V&A and whenever I get a chance to go back up to London I always enjoy going back to it. Locally, I love the exhibition at Charleston House.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I love his style of botanical drawing, and these have definitely influenced my style for free motion embroidery. I love how the pencil drawings are natural and free, yet with a sense of style.
What’s your favourite colour?
I love all colours but I am definitely attracted to calming colours, so would say blue is my favourite.
To find out more about Ellie and her work, check out her website, Facebook and Instagram. For more information on her upcoming workshops and summer course at the Made and Making studio in Hassocks, click here.