Our inner worlds are the inspiration for Melbourne-based artist, Ellen Porteus. She explores the hidden thoughts and feelings we experience as humans, and brings them to life as vibrant, fun and energetic pieces of art.
Tell us a bit about yourself...
Hi! I'm Ellen Porteus. I was born in Newcastle, and am now based in Melbourne.
I bring my art to life through installation, animation and illustration. I paint large scale murals, I make animated looping gifs, I assemble woodcut sculptures, and so much more!
My style is bubbly, cartoony, colourful and detailed. I love using eye-vibrating colours and patterns. I also love playing with language, incorporating wordplay into much of my work.
What inspired this tutorial and activity you have created?
Creating something colourful and positive with a physical pencil and paper is something that makes me feel good—so I wanted to share that with other people too!
Were you always a creative person?
I was always a creative person and have made things for as long as I remember. Be it writing, music, or visual art, I have always felt most comfortable expressing myself in a creative way. I feel most at ease with the world when I'm making art.
How familiar are you with mindfulness?
Mindfulness is something I try to incorporate into my life as much as I can. Admittedly, it doesn't come easily—my mind is very loud and very busy. I'm most mindful when I am exercising or doing something like painting or drawing—a slow, manual process when my mind must be present on how I'm breathing and moving my body. So I try to incorporate this into my practice as much as I can.
Describe your creative process?
It all starts with a pencil and paper. Even though I'm a visual artist, my ideas come from words first. I might write the concept down, or a phrase that I want to explore, or do word associations.
Then I flesh out the words by sketching, and gradually refine it, first on paper and then digitally using a drawing tablet. There are many more steps depending on if it's going to be a mural or an animation, or something else entirely. But they'll all start out this way.
How do you get in ‘flow’ (aka in the zone)? What does it feel like?
I get into a state of flow when I'm loving what I'm creating. I can get out of my own head, it feels great. For me, the most important part of getting in the zone is not about arranging the physical space in a certain way—it's about arranging my time so I have the mental space to feel un-rushed.
Taking care of myself helps with this as well; getting enough sleep, eating enough, spending time away from work, and moving my body.
What inspires you and your art?
I'm obsessed with our inner worlds, and am inspired to take intangible and hidden thoughts and feelings and make them into bold, vibrant, fun and energetic works of art.
Visually, I've always been really inspired by cartoons, animated film and music videos.
How do you think people can start to use creativity to support their mind?
We can be so judgemental about our creative abilities. I always hear people say, "I can't draw." But being creative is about expressing yourself without judgement—essentially accepting yourself, as you are. And I think that is a fantastic way to support your mind.
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