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An Interview with Ellen De Vylder

Explosively colorful and with striking dimension the abstract work of Ellen De Vylder is extremely compelling. Her approach to color application creates a surface with a collection of colors, textures, and sheens that pull your eye in and out of the space. Colors and textures merge throughout, building forms that interact with one another in the grand scheme of the space and it’s really beautiful. Color scheme obviously plays a huge role, as each work evokes certain emotions in the viewer. But more than just the colors, the way they’re applied and the way they interact creates such an experiential piece that goes so far beyond just the image. De Vylder throws herself at the mercy of the process but her ability to apply color deliberately and then go in to refine certain elements reflects a level of control that is uncommon in such abstract and chaotic forms. Her work draws you right in with its pop but the subtle narrative or emotion that’s created by the fields of color will create an experience that’s truly reflective of how amazing these works are.

I’ve always found that for abstract painting to be interesting the artist must let the process reveal itself and be a little crazy, but while still retaining a level of control or the ability to go in and amplify certain things. This is exactly what you get in De Vylder’s work and I was thrilled that she let me give her some questions to hear more about what she’s doing. She gave a really great interview that reveals a lot about how her paintings are made and what she’s reflecting in her work. Enjoy.

1. I always begin with background, so what got you into art? Any schooling? Big inspirations? What helped shape you into the artist that you are today?

As I am an only child with 2 working parents I spent quite some time alone at home. So, to keep busy I was always crafting and drawing. I spent a lot of time in craft shops and art supply stores growing up. I bought a lot of supplies and art books too. I always wanted to go to a school for art but my parents thought it was better that I became a teacher, so I did. Before I got married I took air brush classes for 2 years. And 2 years ago I just took out all of the paint and brushes I had stashed away for so long and gave it a go.

My biggest inspirations are great artists like Pollock and Joan Mitchell. I think my family and the support of my friends helped me shape myself into the artist I am today.

2. What got you into experimental or abstract art? Did you just start throwing paint at canvas one day or were you more strategic?

Yes, the anxiety of not being good enough at painting and wasting some expensive paint is the thing that held me back the most. But one day I just took a leap of faith as one might say. I am never strategic, I let the paint do it's thing.

3. How do you decide what colors are going to go into each work? Do certain colors and their relationships lend better to your work and style?

I don't have a specific colour scheme, as a lot of artists have, I just like how some colours look good together. I get my inspiration from magazines, nature and sometimes even fashion and take a lot of pictures of colour combos I see around me.

4. How does a work begin? Do you just dive right in and throw some color at the canvas or do you plan out how you're going to attack the work? Does it vary?

The colours I choose are often a reflection of the mood I am that day. Or when everything around me feels "black" I tend to use some happy colours to brighten my spirit. So my way of approaching my canvas has a similar touch to my mood of that day.

5. Do you lay in one color at a time or are you constantly revisiting colors, adding little bits at a time? Do you work wet on wet? Or do you lay in a color, let it dry and then revisit step by step? How do you refine a work or know when it's finished

I begin with one colour as a background and day by day I add some layers of colours. Sometimes I do let colours blend into each other. When I am at a point where I don't have a clue what I should be adding to it, I just hang the painting in my hallway for a couple of days and do nothing with it. After a few days I usually know if it is finished or not.

6. Further into refinement, gold seems to be a very important refining detail in your work. How do you decide when to go in with the gold? What does gold mean to your work? Is there a narrative meaning to the gold in your work?

I use a lot of gold or silver indeed. I just like how it looks in combination with other colours. And I love how it makes the painting look different when the light of the day hits the shimmer on different times.

7. How do you manage and control the texture of your work? Is texture a byproduct of your process or do you deliberately build it up?

I deliberately build up layers. It creates a depth in my work and I use it in almost all of my paintings.

8. Your process has to be somewhat chaotic, so how do you manage the chaos of your process? Do you take control of every element that you can or do you just throw yourself at the mercy of how the colors fall onto the surface?

As a person I am quite chaotic myself, that reflects the state of my studio when I am at work. After some practice I kinda figured out what happens when I throw a colour. I do get surprised a lot too when the paint has dried.

9. Is there a difference in approach in rectangular vs. circular work? Are there any other shapes that you'd try and tackle? Any other new avenues or experiments that you're planning for your work?

No, I usually pick the shape that I am into for that day. I love working with square and circular shapes tho. Sometimes I just have to go with the shape my clients wants me to. That is often a challenge but I love it.

My mind is constantly thinking about new things. It is the first thing I think about when I am awake and the last thing when I fall asleep, so now all I have to have is more time.

10. Finally, PLUGS! Where can people find your work? Any shows/events coming up? Anything and everything you'd like to share, fire away!

My main gallery is Instagram and my website for the world to see. I like the fact that you can reach out to more people around the globe.. I do have a show coming up next year in my hometown and I am glad to welcome people in my home gallery to have a look. But I just go with the flow and see where all this is taking me


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