John Ellis

Artist Statement

I’ve always liked lines.    

The curve in the outline of something round and organic. 

Thousands of tally marks randomly condensed on a sheet of notebook paper.  

The repetition of something so imperfect and accessible, the practiced variation in color and brush stroke.  My work considers this complexity with an instinctual lack of prior consideration.  

The final outcome of a piece is entirely reliant on the spectrum of emotion I experience prior to and throughout the process.  Mosaic-esque compositions reflect a greater sense of ease and control.  Repeated lines and circles express an obsessively anxious mindset.  

In this sense, my paintings explore the instinctually expressive potential of line, shape and color as a means to utilize and consider my anxiety and driving urge to create.  

I sometimes see my paintings like doodles on scrap paper.  A long phone call, a lecture, a need to let the mind wander.  A series of scribbles on the back of a receipt during a daydream or ten thousand circles spread across a 2×4 canvas.  Something like an anchor or a comforting grip when it’s windy.  

Not tied down, not left to float away. 


John Ellis is a visual artist based in Greensboro, North Carolina.  His large-scale, process oriented works concern repetitive mark making as a means to express frustration, anxiety and obsession through fields of abstraction.  His approach to a composition is frantic and compulsive at times – firmly rooted in the exploration of intuitive artistic methods that resonate with his current state of mind.