E L L E N S T E E L
Born Hingham MA
Lives and works in Pasadena CA
My present photographic practice began a few years ago when the abundance of roses in my neighborhood inspired me to pick up my camera and I found myself focusing on the beauty of individual flowers. I lived near the Huntington Museum and regularly visited their rose gardens looking for more subject matter. At the same time, I began walking in Joshua Tree National Park and photographed the flora there. Although the desert landscape was in stark contrast to the green-leafed suburbia of Pasadena, the light in the desert and the natural beauty of the plant life that managed to survive there compelled me to take pictures. Since then my subject matter has expanded to include anywhere I am walking: the mud flats of Cape Cod Bay, the view from my mother's porch on the coast of Maine, or the beaches of Southern California. Sometimes while looking at the landscape I have a fleeting sensation of light or feel a spaciousness that can't be captured. In this case, I reconstruct the scene with multiple images, looking for the expansiveness of the sensation, which I suspect is psychological as much as topographical.
My paintings are expressions of an inner landscape that I discover as I work. Sometimes the paintings are residual emotions or fleeting sensations that need to see the light of day. Sometimes the paintings happen in tandem with the photographs, reflecting another aspect of a place I've seen. When I work I try to empty my mind of any preconceived image of how the paintings will look by paying attention to the process at hand, all the while attempting to remain in touch with an inner stillness so that I can ground myself and my work in the present moment.