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Our July Artist of the month is Ellen Ransom of Evanston. Ransom is a portrait artist whose goal is to show African Americans around the world that they too can be portayed in art.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing something! I was the youngest of four children and the only girl being raised alone as my brothers remained in Alabama with my grandmother and their father. I didn’t have much company or playmates and therefore found ways to entertain myself by drawing everything in sight. Upon becoming a teenager, my oldest brother joined my mother and me, but still, as a baby sister, there were not a lot of opportunities for my brother and I to interact together, besides art. 

Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and if so, would you tell us about it?6

As a game, we would have competitions to see which of us could draw the pictures on album covers.  We would have our neighbors and family vote on which was the best. I was so happy to win most of the competitions. That really set off my passion for art, and I have never looked back. I began painting in high school and selling my work regularly. My art teacher secretly entered my work in the scholastic art competition, and I won a prize. I was so very happy I wanted to draw every moment. Later, I was accepted into the Art Institute of Chicago, and I continued to paint daily until getting married in 1986.  I stopped painting but continued to draw and sketch until my children began attending school and the fever for painting was off and running again. I showed my work in some festivals and was given a solely show in 2017 at the Noyes Cultural Center. I continue to sell to families and workmates as my love and passion for art has never ceased.

What opportunities does Illinois present to local Illinois artists?

Illinois has been a regular source of encouragement for artists, with contests and festivals that include everyone. I found that there are many calls for artists in many different categories, which allows all types of artists to participate and cultivate their artwork. 

What is your favorite medium to work in?

I work primarily in oils, but I also complete works in pastels and watercolors. I have also completed art works in charcoal and colored pencils.

5Where can people view or purchase your work?

My work can be viewed on Facebook at “Ransom4Art,” by Googling “Ellen Ransom” and also on my website: sites.google.com/site/Ransom4Art.  You can request to purchase my work via email. If interested, please email me at: Ransome4art@gmail.com.

What artist inspires you and why?

There are a few artists that have inspired me in my journey, starting with my current atelier portrait artist instructor, Mr. Richard Halstead in Evanston, Illinois. His creativity and encouragement have inspired me to create some of my best pieces. He encourages his students to paint the way they paint, not his way. We learn techniques and processes but still make the work our own. Another artist I admire is Kara Walker. She express herself and then feelings of African American people in her work. She motives others to feel what we as African American people experience every day. That is my aim as well, to show African Americans around the world that art with our faces featured is very important to see and be proud of. We can all appreciate ourselves and be a part of the world of art. I want to show what we truly look like!3

What do you like about Illinois?

As a portrait artist, I can say there is an overabundance of cultures In Illinois. Truly there is a world within Illinois and that makes it simply amazing to paint all types of people without leaving Illinois.

What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?

Living in Illinois means that I have access to a cultural paradise. I can experience food and culture from anywhere in the world in Illinois. I experience the fairs, the parades and the shows while remaining here in Illinois; it truly is amazing. There are great artists living in Illinois.