2021 Graduating Student Portfolio Exhibition
Sean Ellis Wells
(Click on the individual image to see each artist's portfolio)
My work consists mostly of drawings and paintings. I use a variety of materials ranging from charcoal to oil paint. I base my works in figure and fantasy concepts. The bulk of my work concentrates on emotional narratives.
Often there are fantastic elements or a sense of the surreal applied to my pieces. I like to embrace indulgent and sensual scenes and unpack the feelings behind them. Intimate interactions fascinate me and I enjoy capturing that energy in images.
The process is often a point of meditation. Lots of vigorous lines and masses built up until the images appear.I enjoy long sessions to work on them and let the strokes come together. Each piece becomes a ritual all on its own, long trances that are hard to come out of.
Growing up I always had a hard time associating with people. I always felt like an outsider and maybe I was. Which is why patterns have always been important to me. I used to draw patterns all over my arms as a coping mechanism when things got stressful in my life. Now that I am older, I still draw patterns but the meaning behind them has changed. For me, I love drawing the most complex patterns; the kind that draw people in for hours. I love making art that people want to touch. I think the artist El Anatsui states it best, “If you touch something you leave a charge on it, and anybody else touching it connects with you, in a way.”
Art has become a way for me to associate with people, to draw them into my world. A world that I don’t completely understand. I like making patterns and layering because I want people to bond with the work and, in an extension, they are connecting with me. For my art is an extension of me, it gets to do all the things I wish I could have the guts as a person to do. It gets to be loud, take many risks and connect with people in a way I still struggle with. Art has become a way of me living out the person I wish and want to be, almost becoming a diary. These patterns are a way for me to live and have become obsession of mine. Being able to use my patterns as a form to bond with people in a way that I could never have given me a whole new appreciation for life.
I’m inspired by the idea of capturing the vitality of a moment in time on a flat, painted surface. A visual representation of shape, color and texture all trapped to share its story. I relate to this because of my love for inner inquiry and how movement and stillness can often be the same thing. Painting is my favorite way to form a fingerprint of this relationship.
Acrylic paint is my favorite medium. Because of its fast drying property, it lends itself to supporting my loose and painterly style. Attaining this liveliness originates from my arm and wrist. I move the palette knife, like a moth fluttering around light, pushing paint over the canvas lending to multiple surface textures and the appearance of motion. I’ll then blend to create content or add brush strokes that relate to how I’m feeling. In an instant the composition is breathing, flourishing, and very much alive.
This body of work demonstrates my process. Some of the paintings started with an abstract underpainting utilizing thick areas of paint, different forms of texture, shape and a variety of color based on how I’m connecting with my feelings. Portions of these moments will remain visible as a functional part of the finished painting. I also use this process to deviate from what is representational. This syntheses of the unexpected nature of the color, shape and texture allows the possibility of vitality.
I have always loved portraiture. I love taking pictures of people and having humans as my main subject in a shot. But with the way things are today, it’s hard to rely on people to commit to a session. So that’s why I decided to make this series self-portraits.
I always am the one behind the camera, never in front of the camera. But to execute the images I wanted it was easiest to rely on myself to do so. I have an interest in editorial fashion portraits which are images that tell a story without text, or images that are in magazines or publications. I added the flowers in because flowers symbolize a lot of things, but for this series specifically, its new growth.
This body of work was for me to push past my creative comfort square and step into something more unique than what I would normally shoot, which is other people. It is nice to push past your limits and see what you are capable of creating, as this was a fun experience for me and seeing how being stuck in a bind I could come up with something so beautiful so quick.