interiors & fashion printmaking

Vertical Solitude Goes Horizontal

“Vertical Solitude”, one of my abstract landscapes, has been hung horizontally by the interior designers. I’ve got no problem with that. However you’d like to see the art is the way it should be hung. The Smithe, 855 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC.

Artist’s Statement

When I first set out to create a new artwork, I sometimes spend a lot of time choosing the first image I’ll work with. Not so with this one. I knew right away I wanted to use some of the lake and shoreline images I’d captured on my trip to the Rocky Mountains. As I began to work up the image I started to use looser textures that I felt were like calligraphic brushwork in traditional Chinese paintings. I turned the composition vertically and continued to build the composition, thinking about the majesty of the vertical rock faces and how the natural world is also permeated by a delicate ecosystem, composed of many interdependent entities, powerful yet fragile.

Print in Limited Edition: Available at Art Works Gallery

digital texture of artwork
“Vertical Solitude”, texture detail
abstract landscape original art print titled "Vertical Solitude", 24x30 inches, aqueous pigmented inkjet by Ellen Scobie, Vancouver
“Vertical Solitude”, 24×30 inches, aqueous pigmented inkjet

49 at 74, Works on Paper Exhibit

Exhibited: “49 at 74, Works on Paper by Canadian Artists”, March 9-30, 2017 at Marbury NYC, an artist’s space in New York City.

Works shown from left:

  • The Bird of Prophecy
  • Territory for Thinking
  • The Dream Talker
  • Map for Adventure
digital painting printmaking

On Wednesday it Rained

On Wednesday it Rained, Photo-based Printmaking

Artist’s Statement:

It was an uncommonly wet and miserable April afternoon in the old part of the city. A soft rain began to fall creating a drizzly curtain of reflective light. The blurry wetness slowed the city’s pace and served as a reminder of the beautiful redemption of not always being able to see clearly.


Layer by Layer: Is it a painting, a print, or a photograph?

Interview reprinted from the Opus newsletter

Vancouver artist Ellen Scobie talks about blurring the lines between the stone age and the digital age

Experimenting with digital art and artistic mediums offer up new opportunities for creative expression. We met with artist Ellen Scobie to discuss her creative use of digital imagery and fine art materials such as acrylic paints, mediums and glazes. Ellen’s use of traditional and new media allows for considerable versatility and a rich viewer experience as the eye unwraps the many layers that make up her mixed media art.

Opus: Explain your process from taking the photo to printing to completion.

Ellen Scobie: My process starts with lots of photographs. The digital file is just something that I mine for texture or colour. Then I zero in on that photo and isolate something that I like in it, extract it, and use it to start building a new file. With my background as a printmaker, I’m already accustomed to building up my composition layer by layer. So I have taken that process and moved it digitally. Once I have printed it, I can make the choice as to whether I’d like to work on it afterwards or not.

O: Tell us about your background in printmaking and how it compares to how you work with digital media.

ES: Well, my printmaking background started with stone lithography, which has a number of stages. You [draw on the stone], etch into it to get the image you want then you can ink it up, put your paper onto it, run it through the press, and there you have your first image. Lithography is very time consuming and health-wise there are a lot of hazardous materials. Digitally I can create much faster and there is so much more room for experimentation. Digitally you can move forwards and backwards and you can try out a lot of ideas quickly. You would have to be an extremely accomplished lithographer if you’re working with 8 layers or even less. The pieces I work with now, easily have 75 or more layers, and with lithography that would be technically impossible.

Ellen Scobie mixing glaze
Mixing the Glaze | Photo credit C. M. Redmond

O: How do you decide which images you will work into after they have been printed?

ES: It’s completely intuitive. I have thousands of photos, and I just scan them, and see what strikes my fancy. Sometimes the print evolves into a painting that I glaze, and as that happens the composition can shift quite a bit depending on how much I paint into it. Those are works that I’d consider more painterly in nature. The work that I would consider to be more photographic, I typically wouldn’t paint on.

O: Does the feeling you have when you are taking the photographs translate onto your work in the studio?

ES: I’m more like a hunter when I’m out taking photos, because I’m out collecting data. I’m capturing a specific object, a moment, and that’s residing in the digital file that’s captured. Then when I create a new piece, I’m extracting these pixels [from previous photographs] and I like to think of them as sort of digital DNA because they carry with them a source from their origin. In that way it’s like DNA being passed down from one generation to another in the creation of something new. Logically there is something from the original pixel, but, when you’re looking at the piece, you may have no idea where the colour comes from or where I took the image. It’s a completely new embodiment of the digital material.

O: What is it about the process of working into your image with art materials that you enjoy?

ES: Lithography and being in the printmaking studio is about working with your hands and your muscles. You get to grind down the stone, mix your own ink – it’s really a physical process. What I’m doing now is sitting in front of a computer; it’s very clean, it’s digital. I think that’s why I like to go back and paint on some of my prints; it gets me back into the tactility of the piece, working with paint and connecting once again in a manual way. Because the original resides on the computer, it’s like the art is existing in this kind of undefined place. Is it a print? Is it a file? Is it a painting or a photograph? So in some ways it feels important to make it into an object that you can hold.

O: What do you get from working in nature, photographing it, and making art from it?

ES: My work is landscape-based or abstract. Living here on the West Coast, where we are surrounded by so much natural beauty, is a huge influence. I love to go to the beach or into the mountains, and I carry my camera with my, snapping pictures whenever I can. Where I live is basically influencing what I’m doing. Everything is just a reflection of where you are and what you’re experiencing.

Vancouver artist Ellen Scobie applying acrylic glaze with palette knife to canvas | Ellen Scobie Fine Art Printmaking
Ellen Scobie applying acrylic glaze to canvas | Photo credit C. M. Redmond

O: How is the digital age important to you as an artist?

ES: Without digital technology, I would have no practice at all. Everything that I do is digital. I actually started working by picking up a digital camera and thinking about how I could use it in an artistic way. I didn’t have access to any printmaking studio at that time, so I started thinking like a printmaker would by taking photos and using them in Photoshop with the layering process to create prints. The way technology has progressed in the last few years has made computer processing power, memory storage and software all cheaper which has really allowed me to expand this process.

O: Do you think merging fine art skills with digital tools is something that artists should try?

ES: If you’re innovative or curious at all, it’s definitely an area to explore. Everyone has a camera now. You know, they say the best camera is the one you have with you, and most of us have a camera in our pocket now with our phones. I, personally, am starting to use my iPhone more and more, and incorporating those photos into my artwork. So it absolutely does not have to stop with just the photo that you are taking. Use it as a stepping-stone into a larger piece or just use it as an explorative device.

Interview courtesy Opus Art Supplies

Read more – Pixels to Paint: Mixing Photography and Painting Yields Beautiful Results


Process and Materials

A client recently asked me about my artistic process. This client is an avid collector of serigraphs, lithographs, pastel drawings and original acrylic paintings but my work is the first photo-based mixed media print work in their collection. I thought I would share some of our discussion.

First, a little background. I was trained in stone lithography which involves creating an image on a stone, etching and inking, and then pulling the print. These steps are followed for each color used. For multiple colors, typically the stone is either ground down or further etched to alter the image, then re-inked and printed. The image is slowly built up by laying down coloured shapes.

I have essentially taken this process and moved it digitally. Instead of ink, I use the color from photographs I have taken. I isolate pixelated shapes in my photographs that interest me and use them as compositional elements in making the artwork. Instead of successively etching stones to create layers, I use multiple computer files in layers. I use a digital version of layering colour upon colour, shape upon shape, just the way I used to work in traditional stone lithography.

The benefits to me from working this way are numerous. First of all, I can employ many more layers than would be practical in stone lithography. A hand-pulled litho with 8-10 colors would be a technical achievement; many lithos have fewer colors and are beautiful pieces of art (I’m referring to hand-pulled prints – not offset lithos, which are machine-printed). However, in my process, I can easily employ 30, 50 or even 75 layers to create my images.

After I have completed working on my image digitally, I print it onto a fine art paper or fine art canvas. At times I continue working the image by painting on top of the surface.

The immense improvements in archival inks and the affordability of computer equipment and printers in recent years have opened a vast arena in which artists can experiment. Whereas at one time inks from inkjet printers did not meet archival standards, pigmented archival inks are now available which are rated for 100 – 200 years permanence. Such well known institutions as the Museum of Modern Art in NYC has inkjet prints in its collections. Inkjet prints still should be handled as fine art prints and cared for as such.

Last summer, I was also back in the print-making studio creating prints that married my digital image-making with traditional stone lithography. I look forward to exploring more these hybrid processes.

I hope that helps clarify my artistic process and materials and provides some insight into my working methodology.

Further reading:

I recommend the International Fine Print Dealers Association for more information about inkjet and digital processes and fine art prints in general.

I also talk about my process at the Cross-Pollination Art Exhibit in San Diego in my September, 2010 blog post.

Image: “Awash”, Ellen Scobie, pigmented inkjet print, 48×48 inches

Bid on Original Art at Timeraiser Vancouver

The Timeraiser is tonight! Timeraiser Vancouver is an inventive idea to put original art in the hands of people who are willing to volunteer for a charity. At the Timeraiser Vancouver event, prospective art bidders visit the booths of participating charities to find a match for themselves. Then they bid on artwork, displayed around the room, by stating how many hours they are willing to volunteer for it. The maximum bid is 100 hours! I think this is such a great formula for supporting artists (who are paid for their artwork through the Framework Foundation), for raising volunteerism and supporting charities. Come on out tonight for Timeraiser Vancouver or look for a Timeraiser in your city.

Timeraiser Interview with Ellen Scobie

Timeraiser: How did you hear about Timeraiser 2011?
Ellen: I’m very fortunate to have been involved with Timeraiser before. This is my third year.

Timeraiser: Why did you decided to name your artwork “Promises”?
Ellen: I’m always looking for new ways to express my experience of living. I explore the wonders of the everyday world around me, from mountains to mussels, skies to seaweed. My practice has taken on a more abstract approach, as I experiment with presenting the landscape as a metaphor for emotional and psychological states. This artwork is about the power of a promise.

Timeraiser: What do the dots which are overlaid on top of the scenic background represent?
Ellen: This mixed media artwork is a hybrid of photography, printmaking and painting. I start the composition by looking through photos I have taken (of which I have over 12,000) and start to pick out textures, shapes or colours that interest me. I don’t use the whole photo – just pieces of it that I combine with select pieces from other photos. As I combine these pieces together, overlaying them, scaling them, moving them around, the composition begins to emerge and I start to develop a feeling about the work. It may make me feel nervous or uptight, joyful or serene, fearful or exhilarated. I start to equate these feelings with experiences I’ve had in life. This leads to bringing the artwork to completion around a more defined idea. Every compositional piece of the artwork contributes to the overall feeling I’m trying to impart.

Timeraiser Vancouver 2011
Waldorf Hotel, 1489 East Hastings Street
September 22, 2011
Doors open at 7pm

About the Timeraiser

The Timeraiser is part volunteer fair, part silent art auction and part night on the town. Throughout the evening meet with different agencies and match your skills to their needs. Once you have made your matches, you are eligible to bid on artwork. The big twist is rather than bid money, you bid volunteer hours. If you have the winning bid you have 12 months to complete your pledge before bringing the artwork home as a reminder of your goodwill.

*cash bar and light catering
*dress is Evening Casual
*maximum art bid is 100 hours

Ellen Scobie is a visual artist melding the traditional art forms of painting, photography and printmaking. View her art at


Contemporary Printmaking: The Penang International Print Exhibition 2012

September 15 – October 15, 2010
Opening Ceremony September 28, 2010
Penang State Art Gallery, Malaysia
Guest Curator: Prof. A. Rahman

I will be exhibiting two prints at the Penang International Print Competition in Malaysia. In conjunction with the exhibition, there will be a talk on contemporary printmaking given by U.K. art writer Richard Noyce entitled, “Journeys to the Edge: Alternative Printmaking”, (see below) and an open printmaking workshop facilitated by four young artist printmakers as well as a number of solo shows by printmakers. A monograph of the exhibit will be published.

The two prints of mine accepted into the show are Softly Rushing (above) and Ancient Striation, seen below:

Ancient Striation - 24x28 in.
Ancient Striation – 24×28 in.

This exhibition is part of a wider event called “Sparkles in Penang” (SIP) sponsored by Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism, which features thirteen offerings of contemporary art in ten different venues throughout the month of September.

Excerpt from the talk on contemporary printmaking given by Richard Noyce on the occasion of the Penang International Print Exhibit 2010:


Richard Noyce   

Over the past decade or more I have explored contemporary printmaking and the international printmaking community through journeys to a number of very different countries and also through the medium of the Internet. My book titles both incorporate the word ‘edge’, and reading those books will reveal some of the complexities and paradoxes that this word entails. What is certain however is that contemporary printmaking is in very good health, that it continues to expand and diversify and, importantly, that it continues to defy exact and scientific definition. … I suggest that there is no other single visual arts form in which those who produce the work, write about it, or collect it, can have such a wide range of ways in which to get together, to look, to learn and, importantly, to share ideas. For all these reasons contemporary printmaking continues to exert a strong fascination in a growing number of people…. As the notion of the print and printmaking is unpacked a whole new set of questions arises. … Contemporary printmaking is no longer content with staying in the obscure corners into which some commentators pushed it in the past, and in which some printmakers were content to stay. It is a vibrant and continually evolving set of mediums that defies safe definition. Paradoxically, while much printmaking continues to take place at the edges, where there is a greater sense of risk and danger, it is also moving resolutely towards the centre of the contemporary visual arts….

For the complete paper, please visit the website of Richard Noyce.


San Diego Art Exhibit: 14 Contemporary Artists in Digital Media

Exhibition Catalog Excerpts

Curatorial Comments by Will Gibson

Throughout the history of man, technological advances start in one discipline and ripple through other fields of endeavor and over time can completely change societies. We are in the midst of such a revolution. The advent of what has been called the Digital Age is currently reshaping all aspects of our lives. The art world is no exception. The title Cross-Pollination refers to this aspect of interconnection and fertilization of our culture and art. As the tools become more and more available and powerful, we are constantly seeing the formation of new and exciting combinations of visual ideas and forms.

What we have gathered here are short portfolios of fourteen different artists of varying backgrounds and styles whose common thread is their adoption of digital tools. They are all members of the Digital Arts Guild selected from a larger pool of interested artists. As you will see, there is a broad range of styles and techniques embraced in this exhibit.

Ellen Scobie (also) starts with photographs but has become a master at layering different images into an impressionistic whole that harkens to memories both individual and archetypical.

Artist Statement, Ellen Scobie

The smallest unit of life is a cell, the building block of all living things. Each cell contains the cell genome, or DNA, which stores information. In reproduction, DNA is replicated and passed on to offspring so linking generations: each subsequent generation carries the DNA of its forebears.

My digital paintings are the offspring of my photography. I capture the world in digital photographs and scans, recording images in pixels. Each pixel is a capsule of information analogous to a cell containing DNA. I used these cells of information to make paintings, digitally recombining pixels from a myriad of images to create something new.

I then print the composition onto canvas bringing forth the virtual painting in the material world. My practice involves the convergence of three art forms: photography, painting and printmaking.

Intended to be experienced on an emotive level, these interior landscapes may evoke past remembrances or an undefined sense of the familiar or a new, yet somehow appealing, expression. I work hard at developing a visually rich surface, using image fragments plucked from time’s continuum, reinvented to suggest the possibilities of a new narrative.

About the Exhibit

Members of the Digital Art Guild from as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia were selected by curator Will Gibson to show a short portfolio of current work in this exhibit. Curator Gibson explains, “The idea was to find and show a specific body of work by these contemporary artists in such a way as to create an overall picture of the state of digital two dimensional art today. The digital revolution has come to most fields of our society and the art world is no exception. Many of these artists have strong backgrounds in traditional media and have chosen to explore these new tools. ‘Cross-pollination’ refers not only to the mix of traditional experience and digital tools, but also to the communication among artists in the Digital Art Guild. The range of how they approach their work gives the visitor an experience of what is possible and hopefully a glimpse of how things will continue to change in the future.”

The Digital Art Guild
The Digital Art Guild was founded in 2003 as a place for explorers in this new mode of expression, a fertile place to exchange ideas and help each other understand and use these new digital tools. This is the first of many of their exhibits to concentrate on a broader picture of fewer artists.


Evolution of an Artwork

I usually work on more than one piece of art at a time and, like many artists, am often hard pressed to determine when the art is actually finished. Sometimes I’ll commit to a certain composition as being the finished one, only to come back to the art several days – or even hours – later to being totally dissatisfied with it.

I started out making editions of my work (making multiple prints of the same image) to a small maximum number, usually up to 25, but often only 5 or 10. But I find I can’t leave some of the art alone after I print it. The longer I look at it, the more ideas I have for it.

So I have started incorporating acrylic glazes and mediums on top of the print to further develop the composition. Here I have started with my image, Night Fears, and painted on top of it to create a new work. I’ve included the original print I started with and some detail photos so you can see the finished — well, for now 😉 — artwork.

photo collage and digital painting, title Night Fears
The original “Night Fears” print before I started painting on it.
mixed media artwork (pigmented inkjet print with acrylic painting) by ellen scobie
After glazing and adding to the composition with acrylics
mixed media art
Detail of surface texture
mixed media painting by abstract artist Ellen Scobie
Detail of surface texture and marks made in acrylic gel
detail of abstract painting with sgraffitto by ellen scobie
More textural surface detail


Ellen Scobie is a visual artist melding the traditional art forms of painting, photography and printmaking. View her art at


Interview in Icelandic Canadian Magazine

Icelandic Canadian Magazine, feature interview with artist Ellen ScobieVol. 62 #2 (2009)

musings printmaking

Talking About Contemporary Abstract Art

Artists frequently get questions on “what is their art about”. It is only natural that people look at the art with the intention of making some sort of sense out of it, to create meaning from the colour, form and texture in front of them. I’m speaking about abstract art, where representational form is not present. Here sometimes a title can be helpful and I try to give titles to my work to provide a stepping off point for viewers to enter the work and create meaning for themselves on their own terms.

Tonight I found the website of Swedish artist Eva Ryn Johannissen. I think she has articulated very well her believe that viewing her art should be experienced on an emotional level, something that I have also tried to encourage viewers to do.

“According to one definition an abstract artist is someone whose art ‘departs in varying degrees from representational accuracy’. My own paintings are not normally abstracted from a physical motive at all. Instead they are mental constructs resulting from an interplay between my experience of contemporary life and the painting process itself.

To me as an abstract artist, all the formal aspects of painting, brush marks, colours, tones, layers of paint, surface texture, become means of addressing my experience of contemporary life. Painting means participating in a happening; it involves trying to surprise and surpass myself while being open to the unexpected. Memories and previous experiences become fused with ever new questions that arise during the process.

When looking at non-figurative abstract art, the viewer needs to lay aside all preconceived ideas of what a painting should be. Instead of trying to determine what the artwork represents he needs to simply let himself be stirred by the movement of ideas in his unconscious mind even as he thinks he is merely looking at colours, abstract shapes, texture.” (Eva Ryn Johannissen)


Digital Photomontage Art Exhibit

pdficon_large 2009-02-22 New West Record Ellen Scobie