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FFAT Ellen Heath
Artist: Maddie Bailey
Ellen Heath
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Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

My inspiration comes from things that make me smile. If an image makes me feel good, I’ll take on the challenge of recreating it and trying to share the special wonder that I see.

We live just above Dixie in the Blue Mountain foothills. I’m inspired just by stepping out our door and taking a look around. I see the bright orange Gloriosa Daisy glowing in the spring sunshine, the wide-eyed fawn staring from the bushes, or the clutch of quail scurrying under the Douglas Fir.

I want to see if I can get that special sparkle down on paper. This makes it very difficult for me to paint abstractly. I tend toward realism. I have many snapshots of local images that are just begging to be painted – the view from the top of Biscuit Ridge, the Dixie Grocery, a wild kitten.

It’s an exciting challenge to paint from other people’s photos, too - a cougar from a friend’s wildlife cam, a local favorite fishing spot, a well-loved pet. In some ways this is more difficult because I need to find out what catches that person’s eye. Each person sees the world very differently.

How has this quarantine period affected your art making?
Since my husband and I are retired, the time I spend painting has not changed much. However, I like to show my work around town and meet with other watercolor artists. That’s what has been affected.
How long have you been making art?

I’ve always felt artistic and loved creating things. As a child we drew and colored, made ribbon flowers and folded origami. I took art in high school and at Whitman. I dabbled in pottery, macramé and stained glass as our three daughters were growing up.

I actually made a decision just over 15 years ago to try to stick with something until I got good at it. That’s when I started taking watercolor classes from Joyce Anderson, and… I’m still taking them. I’ve also taken classes from nationally-known painters, entered a few contests, and shown work at local galleries. I love watercolor painting because there is always something new to learn.

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