Artist Ted Ellis Talks About the Purpose Behind ‘Tedism’ and Supporting the Arts

Artist Ted Ellis

Political, social and spiritual painter Ted Ellis is chronicling the black community’s past and future through his amazing artwork.  Ellis has worked closely with The Tom Joyner Foundation by partnering with them to raise funds for students. Ellis’ own nonprofit program, “Art with a Purpose,” was awarded a federal grant through the Obama administration to help disadvantage students.

His style of painting, which he calls “Tedism,” blends impressionism and folk stories to create representational pieces that can be viewed in the permanent collections of The DuSable Museum in Chicago, The McKenna Museum in New Orleans and The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. In 2009, Ellis unveiled a painting of President Barack Obama at the French Embassy the day before the inauguration. He sat down with rolling out recently to discuss why black art is  important. –alex green

Why is it important for the black community to support black art?

When we support “black art,” we support our culture and the preservation of it. We begin to recognize and realize even more the importance of our cultural identity and legacy.

How do you get inspired to create a piece?

Just driving down the road, I can see an old church, and I’m [inspired] to paint it. I can hear someone talking about their grandparents sitting on the porch or fishing with cane poles in a creek, and I’m charged to paint. I feel good when I paint. I love to paint.

What projects do you have in the works?

I work on multiple projects simultaneously. I’m a history buff at heart. I read a lot, and I have more books than paint. I’m working on pictorially documenting the story of black jockeys and African Americans who served during the Civil War. These projects require research and reading.

What advice would you give an up-and-coming painter?

Visualize yourself as a successful painter, practice your craft daily, set high standards, dare to dream and have a plan of action to accomplish your dreams. I suggest you join a local art league that will cater to your particular interest in learning to draw, paint or sculpt. Community colleges and leisure learning programs have great night and weekend courses that are fun. You can go to your local art supply store and check out the bulletin board and see who is offering art classes and ask the store manager for recommendations.  That is a good start.

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Houston TX, Writer, Photographer, Pop Culture Connoisseur.


  • curtis kojo morrow
    April 22, 2011

    As a kid, I was continually told what I couldn’t do because I was Black. It was a very frustrating period of my life. However, at the age of nine (9) a Pullman Porter, name Mr. Ross, gave me a book, which was the Bio of an African-American, name Matthew Henson, an African-American explorer, it changed the course of my life… And freed me from the belief that I couldn’t do whatever I desired to do because of my race. Today I am a retired jewelry designer, Artist, Author and Photographer. Thanks to the generosity of a Mr. Ross, who gave a young mind hope and freed me from my slave-mentally.
    In this online Gallery are oil painting of a few places I’ve visited as a young man..
    I share them with the hope of inspiring others to think outside of the box they may find themselves in.

    My latest:

    Once there, to view complete listing, go to Categories on the left & click on

    Oh, & btw; my online photo galleries:

    So hang on in there;-)

    Curtis Kojo Morrow

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