Five questions to Ellen Levine Dodd

Five questions to Ellen Levine Dodd

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Ellen Levine Dodd, (born 1950 in Newton, Massachusetts) grew up near Boston in the small New England beach town of Winthrop. She studied painting, photography and papermaking at Clark University, Massachusetts College of Art, and graduated with honors from Sonoma State University in Northern California. Currently she lives in Novato with her husband, and works full time in her studio in Downtown Novato, in Marin County, California, painting, printing, teaching art workshops and mentoring art students.How did you get into art?

Art has always been a large part of my world. I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. As a child if I was given a stack of paper and pencils or paint, I would sit and draw or paint until my stack of paper ran out. I started doing photography at 10 with inspiration and encouragement from family members who loved cameras, taking photos and developing images in the darkroom. During junior high and high school, I had after school lessons from a local artist, was awarded an art scholarship to college, and graduated with a double major in painting and photography.

How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?

My work is boldly colored and richly textured, with multiple layers, scratched, sanded, carved into and drawn onto. My vision is emotional, expressionistic, and positive, with brightly colored gestural brushwork and mark making, a strong sense of story and symbolism, and a passionate reference to the preservation of the landscape. My work is about the modern landscape and how we coexist within it, physically and emotionally

What makes my work special is its ability to promote healing, both for ourselves and for our environment. ‘Making the most of what we have’ and ‘finding the silver lining amongst the clouds’ is strongly embedded in the narrative of my art.How do you go about developing your work?

I often do small color and compositional studies that direct my thought process to a specific starting color palette or general composition, but I rarely paint directly from my studies. They only inform my thought process. My paintings are spontaneous and reactional. I start by making marks, painting bold and colorfully suggestive shapes, and react by building up layers until the direction of the painting starts to unfold. Although my earlier work used to be painted from my mind’s eye, my more abstract and abstract landscapes are more emotionally reactive to the initial accidental directions that increasingly become more purposeful, until the painting is complete.Who or what influences you?

My extensive travels throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East photographing the landscape and nature has had a strong influence on my art. Trips to museums, galleries and my addiction to art books, made me aware of the artists that inspire my work. The color field paintings of Emily Mason, Richard Diebenkorn’s abstract and emotional landscapes, and the early views of the Impressionists, Expressionists, and Fauves have directed my path toward a love of color and visually expressing more than is normally seen.

Make us curious. What are you planning to do next?

My new work is getting larger, bolder, and more 3-dimensional. I am working on a series of sculptural paintings that explores the theme of how we interact with and within the landscape.Learn more about the artist: