To Top

Meet Barbara Ellis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Ellis.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’m a Baby Boomer recreating myself daily by working my authentic passion to make art. My road to artistic freedom has been a winding one: After earning a B.A. in Commercial Art, and a decades-long corporate career, I left my 9-5 almost four years ago. I replaced the office with my studio, and I now enjoy exploring my practice full time! Never have I been happier.

I’ve resided in Charlotte, NC for 14 years. However, my roots stem from five generations of native New Yorkers on my mother’s side. Harlem was home. Our family was steeped in the rich Jazz and cultural traditions of that city. My great-grandfather was a jazz pianist and composer and owned a popular Harlem nightclub during the 1940s. This was the energy that in many ways shaped me during my formative years in post-World War II New York City through the 1960s. Jazz not only significantly influenced the African American New York community. White progressive artists were captivated, motivated, and supported it. The New York School of abstract expressionists was born during that era. They painted freely while it blared loudly in their studios.

Two years into my full-time practice, my journey led me to the revelation that my artistic voice is rooted in Abstract Expressionism. I feel perfectly grounded when working this amazing process that channels emotional states. I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I was assigned to do.

Please tell us about your art.
I work from the abstract expressionist perspective. Inspired either by preconceived concepts or raw impulse, I begin by making random marks on the canvas. As the composition develops, I make adjustments to areas that make me uncomfortable. The process is repeated layer by layer as I respond with free-sweeping gestures that emanate from my Spirit. This unusual painting method essentially channels spiritual, subconscious and emotional memory into visual form. Oftentimes, creating a pleasing composition requires turning chaos into order. The process is both healing and freeing as I work with oil, various forms of acrylic paint, art crayons and sometimes tissue or pastels on canvas or fabric. The result IS the experience itself. I am always surprised by the images that demand (and succeed) to be expressed! As I continue to expand through this introspective work, my hope is that the work motivates contemplation, conversation, and perhaps – personal growth.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I believe the role of the artist is entirely subjective. Some artists choose to create pretty pictures because that is what makes them happy, or because that is what sells in their chosen market. Others assume the responsibility of using their artistic voice intentionally as a vehicle to raise awareness around cultural/political realities of personal concern.

Disturbing national/global events definitely impact my art. My current project is conceptual; idea based. The work expresses my state of mind, but I never know what perspective it will take on until I’m in the flow of creating. As I create, the energetic nature of the composition will reveal itself.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?


Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 678-723-5547
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @bellisarts
  • Facebook: @BEllisArts

Image Credit:
Barbara Ellis

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in