Barbara Ellis, ( OPA,NOAPS,WAOW ) is a classically-trained academic realist with decades of experience. Her artwork celebrates the beauty of the natural world in all it’s variety, from delicate mare and foal scenes, to wildlife and rural animals scenes, to classical portraits and still lives. Horses in all their glory , have provided one of the main sources of inspiration for her art over the years. The challenge of capturing their fire and elegance, as well as achieving anatomical accuracy, has been a lifelong love affair. She has increasingly branched out into wildlife subjects over the last few years. Capturing the beauty and the dignity, the personality of animals and sharing it with others is a very gratifying pursuit. Spending time in nature researching her subjects and their environment has become a joy-filled passion of discovery.
She was born in Washington, D.C. but largely raised in Vermont. She attended Smith College in Northampton, MA.. on a full scholarship, until clashes with the modern-leaning art department caused her to leave school , spend two years at a menial office job to earn requisite funds to go abroad and study in Florence, Italy . She earned a Certificate in classical Renaissance art techniques at the DeMolo Atelier in Montecatini, a charming Tuscan hill town just outside Firenze. Curricula followed Cennino Cennini’s book Il Libro d’Arte, and included fresco, gold-leaf framing , hand-making traditional pastels, and bi-weekly study at the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, sketching directly from the paintings and sculpture gardens.
Returning to the United States , and fired up with the Old Masters ablaze in her brain, she sought out artists/teachers who preserved the classic academic traditions. Several years of study with Mr. Carroll Jones in Stowe, Vt. gave her proficiency in egg tempera oil painting. Mr. Jones was a highly-acclaimed and generous teacher of the “Old School ” from Yale University . He was noted for his superlative equestrian art and his portraiture, and was represented by Portraits, Inc.
The instructor who changed her life , however, was Frank Covino, with whom she studied at the Covino Academy of Art in Fairfield, Connecticut for several years, before marrying him . Frank Covino was a Master of Classic Renaissance Oil Painting , specializing in portraiture and religious art, as well as sculpture in the round. With a Masters Degree in Art Teacher education, Frank spent decades conducting traditional oil painting workshops around the country, as well as authoring numerous books on art techniques. He passed away six years ago, which has been a very painful transition to manage , but Ellis believes focussing on creating the highest quality art that she can is the best way to honor his memory.
Ellis has exhibited widely over many years , with shows in innumerable Vermont and New England area galleries, multiple showings at the Salmagundi in NYC, as well as equine and animal-themed art shows around the country. Venues ranged far and wide, from the Taos Fine Art Center, to racetrack art shows in New Jersey and Kentucky, to the Aiken Center for the Arts in SC., to the original AAEA headquarters in Middleburg , Virginia to The Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester, Vermont. etc. For over twenty years, she exhibited regularly with the American Academy of Equine Art , ( AAEA) now headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky , and acquired membership in the AAEA in 2017. Her paintings are in collections from Austria and Norway and France to all across the U.S. and she has won numerous awards over the years.
She is a member of OPA, (the Oil Painters of America), and NOAPS ( National Oil and Acrylic Painters) and WAOW ( Women Artists of the West).