October 15, 2019 11:40 PM

Gracie Ellison is a self-taught Portland based artist who focuses on canvassing portraits of grumpy and solemn faced women with use of patterns, textures and colour. She was drawn towards canvas. She used paper for years because it made her feel more free to experiment—there was less pressure for her paintings to turn out well. As her work began to sell, She switched because she preferred the final results on canvas.

She was drawn to signature and impactful work of portraits of women, and inspired this movement. She was drawn towards portraiture; stating early in pur conversation “I’ve been doodling faces on every piece of paper I’ve touched since I was a kid. It’s funny, I look back at pieces I made as a teen or even a kid and they’re always women’s faces, never smiling. It’s what I’m most attracted to as a viewer as well. My vision has slowly become more specific and refined but I’ve essentially been painting the same thing since I was a kid.”

Concluding and pinpointing on a single work- In all honesty, I always felt I was just painting faces until others pointed out to me that they were solemn or “grumpy.” Perhaps because my own resting expression is quite stern, I think of a frown as being almost neutral. I don’t want to feel as though the women I paint are smiling or frowning for the viewer, I want them to be intense yet completely unaffected.

In all, There is great use of patterns of colour in each series of your work, showing the contrast in the women, their ethnicity, their style. Tell us about the process of creating art, I would love to hear more! 


Gracie Ellison: Social media plays a huge role in my art. I’m constantly finding inspiration online. Sometimes I’ll see a picture on Instagram of like someone’s living room and then I just have to make a painting using some of those colors. I’m sure all the images I take in everyday affect my own vision. As for selling art, social media has been imperative. It’s how most people both find and purchase my work. Even the shows I’ve been involved in have only happened because of connections made on social media. 

Twelv: How important do you think social media Is now for a current artist to succeed? Do you think Instagram is becoming the new art gallery?

Gracie Ellison: I really couldn’t say. Based on my own experience, I would say it’s very important. All of the artists I know get most of their sales from Instagram (directly or indirectly). Even shows at art galleries are usually full of people who saw promotions for it on Instagram

Twelv: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in order to succeed in the art world?

Gracie Ellison:To value my own work. I definitely have imposter syndrome and have a hard time putting myself out there, pricing my pieces to reflect their worth, or believing any praise. I’ve received that advice many times and am working on it— but it’s true that others won’t value your work if you don’t.

Twelv: What is the biggest tip you would give to an artist coming into the industry now?

Gracie Ellison:I’m not sure I’m in the position yet to give advice! I would probably say to trust your intuition. Challenge yourself and take in advice but never change your vision to appease others. 

Twelv: I have a two part question- Do you have any artists that inspired you?and Do you have a fellow Artist that you currently love and follow?

Gracie Ellison: I am inspired by so many artists. Two big ones for me are Amrita Sher Gil and Alex Katz. I admire the texture and depth of Sher Gil’s work and the simplicity of Katz’.and I’ve recently fallen in love with the work of Naudline Pierre via Instagram.

Twelv: What are you working on now? What can we look forward to seeing in your upcoming work?

Gracie Ellison: I’m just wrapping up a show of large scale portraits. The curator, Immaculate Space, really pushed me to try painting on a much larger scale and that’s something I think I will be playing with in the future.

Twelv: Thank you so much for letting us know more about you Gracie! And I look forward to seeing what is next in your work.


Gracie Ellison's website 

Gracie Ellison's Instagram




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