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.