The work of Ellen Watson embodies the elemental forces of the rugged Cornish coastline, with rich textures of oil paint and a palpable creative energy. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and the neighbouring Isles of Scilly, she portrays untamed seascapes and weathered coastal views, focusing mainly on the strength of light and ‘that point of contact between the sky and the horizon’ (Watson). She uses a sophisticated range of colour, from wholesome bases of earthy tones to gentle shades of blue and green merging with pastel skies.
At an impressive 121x153cm, Mica and Fish Bones draws one into the atmosphere of a beach scene gently curving across the canvas, punctuated with scatterings of rocks and subtle dapples of colour, or at least flecks of minerals and remnants of marine life as the title suggests. In smaller works, such as Unsettled Weather, Watson presents a more concentrated but by no means less powerful segment of the landscape – the eye can’t help but flick from one detail to the next, as each dash, dab and stroke seems to hold significance and purpose, like that of a musical composition. Amongst the energy of paint there is, however, an air of calm, stillness and tranquillity.
Movement is a key word when describing Watson’s work, as an insight into her practice reveals an engagement with a journey of intuition; she describes her process as ‘a form of travel whereby stuff is revealed and inadvertently uncovered, so in a way a picture is found rather than made’.
Watson’s practice also includes still life and animal studies. Although we are given figurative clues to ground our perspective within her main seascape works, there is more of a lean towards abstraction as she strives to immerse the viewer within the vastness of her subject matter and the visceral presence of the paintings themselves.
Watson graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 1992, going on to work as a Textile Designer until 2002. She has sustained her practice as a painter throughout this time, alongside working in printmaking and ceramics. She now lives and works in Cornwall and exhibits across the South West.