Artist Statement

or 'The Wonder in Us'
by Ellie Cashman

As they emerge out of the darkness and into the light, flowers provide us with powerful symbols of our common human longing for transcendence, for that brief experience of the divine, the moment we are closest to ‘God’, magic, enlightenment, nirvana … or whatever one might call it.

As did the still life painters of the Dutch Golden Age, I paint flowers in all their states, with an emphasis on those that break through this threshold from dark to light, from seed to stalk to bud to full, extravagant bloom.

The shadows, and the darker states, are part of, and support and indeed exaggerate, this triumphant flower in the peak of its glory.

While it’s not without foreboding, all in all the imagery provides the viewer with a sense of hope and inspiration, encouraging her on toward her moment, when a bud bursts into full bloom and her heart breaks … open, when that strongest of human longings is fulfilled, and she achieves - even if just for a brief moment - the best expression of herself.

The splendor of that moment is indeed that it is so hard fought, and won. And as fast as it comes, it is gone again.

This is why we’re here; this is what we're after - to love, to work, to do or make or give something that has meaning for another, and to participate in the endless cycle of birth, life, death and (re)birth, a cycle that connects us to all the living world.

This is our essential reason for being, and it is full of contradictions. It is known to our hearts but a mystery to our minds; it is deeply personal and yet utterly universal … We are, each and every one of us, in pursuit of it.

And because names for it are as elusive as the thing itself, I have come to call it ‘the wonder in us.’

© 2016 Ellie Cashman

“My designs are meant to serve as narratives of optimism and celebrations of beauty. It is this discussion that I want to introduce into my customers’ surroundings, daily lives and experiences.”

- Ellie Cashman

 

My Design Process

To create my large-scale floral prints, I use a combination of traditional and digital art media.

I start by creating a rough pencil sketch on a large piece of paper, or several pieces of paper taped together against a wall. I use this sketch as a means to pin down ‘the big picture’, standing as I draw, blocking out forms and determining the scale and proportion of elements, and how they relate to each other. Stepping back to have a look from a distance, I begin thinking about how a design will repeat, which is an art form in itself.

I then take a photograph of this sketch with my iPhone, import it into Photoshop, scale it up, and start filling in colors and details using custom-made Photoshop brushes that I’ve created to achieve different effects. I do this painting using a Wacom tablet and pen.

Just as one would do with traditional media, I start with large brushes and rough strokes, gradually layering up detail using increasingly smaller and more refined brushes.

Since October 2015, I’ve also been studying Old Master techniques in oil painting at Academie Renshof in Utrecht, NL with Gerd Renshof. This class has opened my eyes to 17th century insights and approaches to light, color and contrast as a means to create the illusion of space and depth, something that’s very important to my work and the concept behind it. It’s my hope to apply these ‘Golden Age’ insights and techniques using new technology, in a new context (the interior design and fashion industries), on a large scale, to create a truly unique style of floral print which doesn’t hang on a wall but is the wall, the mood, etc.

This process of going from a rough, blocked out pencil sketch to a detailed, finished design takes me about 6 months to a year. And once the design itself is finished, a whole new part of my process begins: testing it on different materials and applying it to different products.

I hang up the wallpaper, wear the scarves and generally live with the design in its different incarnations. I photograph the new products in different situations, at different times of day. When people come to my studio, I ask for their thoughts and feedback.

In this way, a design may continue to grow and evolve over a period of years. If nothing else, each design is an education in and of itself, informing my next piece, and my next step.

 

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