Louise Ellerington: The Discreet Geometry of Form
1 August - 16 September 2017
Cank Street Gallery, Leicester

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"I am very much an instinctual painter working with my gut feelings," says Louise Ellerington.  "How I feel about each mark I make is paramount to what stays and what goes."

Louise Ellerington working on a painting


Tell us about what you do

As a painter I am trying to portray emotion through colour, subject matter, line and texture. If the end result means something to someone then I’m happy and feel I have done my job.

What does a typical day as a painter look like for you?

I’m often up in during the night making notes or sketches from an idea which has popped into my head and woken me up. Having such a vivid imagination can be tiring, my dreams are so real that I often wake up thinking I’ve just had a full day already! So, a typical day for me is to get into my studio as soon as possible with the intention of starting at 7am but in reality it’s about 9.30 am. 

Louise Ellerington in her studio

The first thing I do is to put out a full set of colours on my palette then decide which picture to work on first, there are always at least 7 in progress at once. How much painting I do depends on who comes into my workspace/gallery. There are lots of visitors and students who come along either for advice or to work on their own pictures alongside me. The whole day is focused on painting and dealing with certain aspects of the gallery.

How did you choose your current theme, if you have one?

Painting by Louis Ellerington

Louise Ellerington, 'A Mother's Love', oil on canvas

One of my most recent completed paintings is ‘Mothers’ Love’, which is based on a spiral shape and depicts an abstracted mare with embryonic foal. Just over two years ago I had no idea I would be so engrossed in painting horses.

Previously themes for my work have been symbolist or figurative but now semi-abstract colourful horses have become a great part of my new work. 

Painting by Louise Ellerington

Louise Ellerington, 'Back to Front', oil and pencil on linen

The more abstracted shapes of my most recent works are formed from spirals and curves. This horse can be viewed both from the back and the front at the same time. I would like to pursue this theme

This picture feels both feminine and masculine to me and has brought out oriental and Celtic influences which have occasionally appeared in previous works. 

Painting by Louise Ellerington

Louise Ellerington, 'Lone Warrior', oil on linen

Inspired by heavy horse breeds, I have tried to interpret the idea of a load bearing figure/ horse weighed down and moving at snail’s pace but trudging onwards. The horse head on the left is protected with armour thus not concealing how it truly feels. Its blue body curves into another horse head which is winding into itself similar to the way animals and birds tuck their heads in while asleep.

This represents the unprotected 'real' self which is more delicate and fragile.

What media do you usually work in?

Oil paint on linen is my preferred medium and I usually stretch and prepare my own canvas. The strength, durability and fine quality of linen canvas gives me the opportunity to make as many initial pencil marks as I want without fear of denting the surface. A painting often starts with many lines, curves and abstract shapes in pencil, charcoal or chalk. Often I will then start to apply thin layers of oil paint to secure the lines which I can still see underneath.

Photograph of Louise Ellerington painting

As I build up more paint a lot of the drawing underneath becomes more simplified as I begin to make decisions about the composition.

Detail of painting by Louise Ellerington

Louise Ellerington, 'Water Horse', (detail)

I am very much an instinctual painter working with my gut feelings. How I feel about each mark I make is paramount to what stays and what goes. There are some works which I have been totally at one with, an empathic flow of energy between the subject I’m painting and myself. These are usually the most successful works.


Drawing by Louise Ellerington

Louise Ellerington, 'Head of a Horse', drawing, private collection

Not every piece can be so emotionally driven and there are other ways of communication through mark making.

I am a great believer in strength of form through drawing with emphasis on good anatomical construction which I believe to be the basis of a good painting whether it is  abstract or representative.


How did you get to where you are now?

I never stopped trying and took various part time jobs to financially support myself so I could continue with painting.

What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?

The main challenge was learning how to paint and of course that never stops. I didn’t feel fully confident with paint until I became 50.

What's the proudest moment of your artistic career so far?

Painting by Louise Ellerington

Louise Ellerington, 'Water Horse', oil on canvas, 2016

My proudest moment so far is when the Cank Street gallery in Leicester exhibited and sold ‘Water Horse’. This meant a lot to me as it was a very large oil painting on show in  such a beautiful gallery.

Do you have any regrets?


What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

Prepare yourself for a roller coaster ride for the next 25 years, you are simply gaining knowledge

Louise Ellerington, 'Are you going with Me?', oil on linen


Coffee or tea?

Coffee, don't like tea much

Michelangelo or Picasso?

Michelangelo because he was a genius

Mac or PC?

PC, because it's all I know

Morning or night?

Somewhere in the middle


Painting by Louise Ellerington

Louise Ellerington, 'Angel Warrior', oil and pencil crayon on linen


Ash Mammal,  because they have all studied art at the gallery


‘Into my arms’  Nick Cave      It successfully describes love


‘The five people you meet in Heaven’ by Mitch Albom, and ‘One’ by Richard Bach because they both explore alternative dimensions.

Three artists

Franz von Stuck , Gustav Klimt and Damien Hirst . All three  artists show symbolic images in a provocative way.

Things to do on a Friday night 

Get ready for tomorrow.

Painting by Louise Ellerington

Louise Ellerington, 'Prehistoric Little Horse', oil on linen

Holiday spot

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere with beautiful scenery, water, wildlife and hopefully a few horses.

Piece of advice you’ve been given

Years ago someone told me that I had a gift and that I had turned my back on it. I took this to heart and have worked hard ever since.

Louise Ellerington in her gallery

 Louise Ellerington at Ellerington Fine Art