Ellen Welch Granter, by Ric Kasini Kadour
Ellen Welch Granter’s paintings, on the surface, read as straightforward, representational renderings of birds, but on closer inspection, they are deeply poetic paintings.
Granter studied Chinese in Hong Kong and Beijing and earned a Master’s degree in Chinese History from the University of Vermont in 1988. A number of Granter’s compositions are reminiscent of 12th century Chinese Emperor Huizong, whose suprarealistic style portrayed bird movements in a manner that privileged the rendering of their spirit over their literal representation. The British Museum writes, “Huizong saw his paintings as the representation of a perfect and harmonious world. His careful rendering of each element and skillful balance of form and void are characteristics which influenced the academic style of the Song dynasty.” Granter takes a similar approach. The sandpipers in Beginning perch, poke, and prance around an ethereal shore that is rendered as a glossy pool of blues and stripes of shiny gold. This compositional play keeps her paintings fresh and the focus on the gestural movements of the birds.
“To brush dabs of oil on a surface, in a human effort to capture the sublime, is a challenge that has made me hyper-aware of the textures, shapes, and patterns of daily life,” writes Granter. “I believe that a beautiful painting is both a gift of vision and a testament of appreciation for our short lives here on this beautiful Earth.”
In a few paintings, Granter employs a different approach. In Edge, three sandpipers peck the sand for food. A gentle landscape rises in the top of the painting. A few paintings experiment with solid blocks of color. “I am searching for an elegant balance of spare compositions over large fields of luminous color,” wrote Granter. The white birds in Random highlight and bring to life the Rothkoesque red background. Every Fifth is a playful painting in which a series of chickadees occupy the bar of gold leaf that breaks up the blue field. The title refers to the fact that Granter portrays the chickadees from every possible viewpoint. Granter’s paintings show us a romance between the birds and the artist, how she invites them into her paintings, and how they are beautiful.
The entire show, BIRD, can be seen at 10 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk at the Maine Art Shows Gallery. You can also visit on-line at BIRD. To see Maine Art Painting and Sculpture’s complete collection of Ellen Granter’s work, click on her Artist Page or visit us at 14 Western Ave, Kennebunk, Maine.
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