IN CONVERSATION WITH ELLIE MARAN
Updated: Jun 6, 2018
Ellie Maran is a talented interior designer and a painter based in South London. I was delighted to visit her new working space and talk about her work and how she manages to combine her passion for art with a full time job.
Lets start from the beginning. Growing up were you always interested in art?
It actually started later on, because for most of my life I was an athlete and in my first year of university I did physical education. However something then changed in my mind and I wanted to have more of a philosophical approach to life, so I went to study the history of art which also included literature, contemporary history and psychology.
Seeing paintings of Klimt, Caravaggio, Modigliani had a great impact on me. So I decided to paint as well. I basically started with making copies of Klimt and Modigliani and Vettriano. Only in the last 5 years, I started doing my own work, but before that, it was only copies.
How do you think making those copies influenced your work now?
In the use of gold, I have to say, it is definitely Klimt. Every painting of mine has metallic components to them.
Turner and the impressionism movement is something that is close to me. I like the suggestion of shapes hidden by the mist and light, that’s how ‘The Morning of the Battle’ was created.
So you did your degree in the history of art, however now you are a full time interior designer. Why didn’t you carry on with art as a full time job?
I have to say I am quite a pragmatic person. There are not many people who can afford to be a full - time painter. If you do that, you most probably will be really skint for a long time before you start making any money. But when I’ll have kids and be on maternity leave, then I will definitely paint full time.
What medium do you use in your work?
My copies were in acrylics first and then I move on to oils, but I am very impatient and it takes forever to do layers in oil. I always end up painting for 12 hours straight, as I rarely go back to the painting. For abstract painting it in layers and for figurative paintings I have to take my time depending on details. But it is mostly oil.
How would you describe your work?
Safe. Because I am an interior designer, I always know, which kind of artwork I’d put in my scheme - colour wise. Going for an abstract piece is the way to add a pop of colour and make the space luxurious. Also, abstract art is more contemporary, figurative art can look a bit old school.
Do you always imagine your painting as a part of your interior scheme?
Yes – I often start by looking at a proposed scheme and a materials board. So often they are the same colours, I just translate them on to the canvas.
How do you start a new canvas? What is the process behind it?
That is a good question. When I paint I need to be alone, no interruption for at least 8 hours. I will have a bottle of wine, or a beer and I would smoke, but this year I quit smoking. However, I’d still have a cigarette in my mouth - not lit. So by the end of the process, it would be absolutely wet – absolutely disgusting, but it is a part of a process.
You are basically in another world, it is you and the colours and the canvas and everything is possible. I also listen to music – loud!
Oh and I have an old t-shirt, I always wear that. It is completely dirty… you have to be dirty when you work. I wouldn’t be able to work, if I just washed my hair. You have to feel it, you have to be dirty and not afraid to work with colours.
Does your work reflect your feeling or an emotional state when you are painting?
Yes - it comes out as a result of what you feeling in this moment of your life.
I don’t have anything in mind when I start. It is like a jump into the darkness. It is scary, when you start an abstract painting. You can’t prepare, as you would with a figurative painting, where you sketch out the painting first.
But in abstract, you can just start over. So in the process, I go over around 7 different paintings in one painting. You just keep on going, until you are happy with the result.
Lets talk about the space you are working in - it is amazing! What do you like about it?
The thing I like about it the most is that it is very light. It overlooks the garden, so it nice to have greenery outside. I am very lucky to have this space.
What would your dream studio look like?
I have this idea of a really contemporary studio, like a shipping container type of space with a glass wall that opens on to a green space.
What is your next project? What are you planning on painting?
I would like to go back to smaller canvas and work on figurative art to improve my skills. In fact, my next project will be a series of portraits. I’ve been doing abstracts for the last few years, would be nice to get back into figurative for a change.