Share: 

Meet-the-artist event set at Ellen Rice Gallery in Bethany Feb. 13

Artist Ellen Rice works on the beginning stages of a painting of siblings walking hand in hand down the beach from an old photograph brought to her by their grandmother. “It wasn’t a posed photo, and that’s part of its charm,” says Rice. SOURCE SUBMITTED
February 11, 2016

Well-known Delaware artist Ellen Rice will share what moves her to paint portraits, her techniques and her thoughts about bringing children, adults and pets alive on canvas during a meet-with-the-artist event from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, at The Ellen Rice Gallery, ocean block in Bethany Beach.

“It’s all about love,” says Rice, who though best known for her landscapes, seascapes and inspirational pieces, has been quietly painting portraits for more than 40 years. "People come to me because of their love for their child or pet or other loved one, and I feel their love and an obligation to not only paint a face or fluffy fur coat, but to capture the soul of my subject."

The subjects of her portrait can't always pose; in fact most don't, says Rice. “Sometimes the portrait is of someone who has passed on, like a Millsboro-area man who died way too young several years ago, so you never meet the person you’re painting,” says Rice. “His parents came to me and asked me to take a snapshot and make it into a painting that looks like he’s saying, 'Hi Mom.’ That was painful but joyous. We were all crying when they saw it."

In other instances, her subjects are moving, high-spirited or playful dogs or horses. Other times, they are equally energetic toddlers or bored teens or a combination of all of the above. She says, "None of them are going to sit still for long, so I rely on photographs heavily.

"I prefer to work from my own photographs, but even when working from less-than-optimal photos, as I study the eyes and the slight nuances of facial structure and start to paint, some sort of connection occurs and I begin to feel like I know the subject, fall in love with the beauty of their spirit a little, and that apparently comes through in my paintings. I always know when I've captured them."

Rice has been painting the shore area, its people, wildlife and historic sites, and inspirational paintings for more than 40 years. Her work is collected internationally. On the Delaware scene, she’s won numerous honors, including being named 2015 Best Artist in the Coastal Style Best Of competition, being named PNC Bank Artist of the Year for 2014 and being voted one of the top 10 most collectible shore artists by Delaware Beach Life magazine, among others throughout her career. Her gallery is also a national NICHE Top Retailer Award finalist for its continued commitment to represent only American artisans.

On the easel in the gallery’s studio area is her recent painting-in-progress for her ongoing Children by the Sea Series. The painting of two children walking hand in hand on the beach will join other completed paintings to become part of a greeting card series illustrating the joy of looking at life through a childlike perspective.

"I haven’t completed enough paintings for the series yet and am still accepting photo submissions for consideration. At this point, the paintings are joyous, contemplative and fun," said Rice.

"I still need to do at least six more before I can begin to print the cards. We had a lot of interruptions last year, including moving the gallery and a severe injury, but I’m back on track and loving every moment I work on these paintings."

Rice will show prints of all the completed paintings in the series for the first time at Saturday's event. She says anyone interested in having the children in their lives painted are welcome to bring photos to show her.

"All of my paintings are about love, really, no matter their subject - but these are especially so, and I'm looking forward to the day when I can share them with everyone as greeting cards that uplift."

The Ellen Rice Gallery is at 98 Garfield Parkway, Suite 109, Bethany Beach, in the Blue Surf building, a half block from the ocean, a few steps up and a couple of doors from Grotto Pizza. For more information, call 302-539-3405 during regular winter hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday through Monday, or go to www.ellenrice.com.