In Ellen’s words: Ellen takes you with her when she paints. Take one picture. It feels like you’ve just come around a bend, gravel path under your feet. Before you an ancient oak tree arches over the path, offering shade on this sunny day.
In another painting, you stand on the edge of a mountain pond. Trees shade the cove. Autumn frosts have turned the huckleberry bushes deep red and gold, and the tranquil water echoes their colors.
In Ellen’s paintings, you have cherished places to yourself. you feel both their quietness and yet the excitement of being the first person here. Breathtaking scenes feel cozy: if you could walk to them you’d go there time and again – and dream about them always. Maybe it’s because Ellen finds them that way.
“In my dreams, I try to find the right spot, the right place,” she says. “I’m always looking for it, and then I find it right under my nose. I’m thankful for what comes into my path, but I’m still looking for the next spot.” Sometimes the spot lies under an iris.
In the pastel “Inner Peace”, you lie in the spring grass hands cradling your head. Sunset tinges the edges of clouds left after a rainstorm. Above you, soaring towards the sky is an iris that’s collected the purples, golds, and greens of a thousand sunsets and filled it’s petals with them.
“Finding the low light of the morning and evening is the most important part of my painting journeys,” she says, “and the light lasts only a short time. But that interaction of color and low sun makes me cry with love.”
Ellen’s painting and pastel technique is self taught; she likes to come up with her own way of applying media. She attended Pacific College of Art, Portland, Oregon from 1981 to 1984. “When I paint, I generally paint fast,” she says, “just letting it flow out of me. It feels like I don’t know what I am doing most of the time.”
Apparently few people believe that.
Her work has been featured in Southwest Art Magazine; displayed the the Hood River 6th Street Bistro and Celilo restaurants; shown at Portland’s Real Mother Goose Gallery, Columbia Art Gallery, and Earthworks Gallery. It’s collected by fans throughout the country.
Each painting captures an emotion that flows from the artist’s heart. “When I paint I feel the God in me, not a religion, but a spiritual experience,” she says. She’s fearless in using emotion. “I see colors in my dreams, beautiful colors, colors communicating thought. I see landscapes as small molecules of color joined together-layer upon layer of color building up to create the paintings.”
Nature, too, puts layer upon layer. A tree grows ring by ring, a leaf cell by cell, a stream drop by drop. And in that we feel anchored to this world. In the painting “Billy”, you look down a river gorge through a tree that’s grown at the edge of a cliff. The tree and the sagebrush and rocks around it fit here, feel at home here. and maybe tha’s what we love about Ellen’s painting-they welcome us home.
We are sad to announce that Ellen Dittebrandt was struck by a truck and killed as she rode a bicycle Sunday morning, August 24, 2014 along Interstate 84 near the Viento State Park exit.
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