Ellen painting an art piece

Hi, I’m Ellen Negley and I was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois but now I live in Lake Worth Beach, Florida. For me, watercolor is the perfect medium. It’s elusive, unpredictable and has a mind of its own. I’m fascinated by its nuances. One minute the colors are bold and electric and the next they’re delicate and transparent. If I painted every day for the rest of my life, I still wouldn’t know all there is to know.

Watercolor is traditionally done by first drawing the subject matter in pencil on the paper and then painting on top of that sketch. My goal is to use fewer pencil marks and rely heavier on my instincts and feelings about the subject. It's a lot riskier, but unexpected things happen along the way, and I like that. I like the feeling of losing control of a painting and then trying find my way back.

My watercolors are a reflection of my surroundings so lately, my paintings are likely tropical. There is something so special about the light in south Florida and I am captivated by tropical foliage, especially palm trees, as you might have noticed. I also love including figures in my paintings because it’s the people that make the place. I choose busy urban settings where I can use lots of color and have people bustling about. Although I often move things around for composition’s sake, I rarely eliminate elements to make a “pretty” picture. If there happens to be telephone poles in the scene, they’ll likely end up in my painting!

As much as I love painting, I spend a lot of time drawing. To me, they go hand in hand. I sketch on location for my paintings as well as work from photographs. For the past 15 years, I’ve also been part of a local sketch group that gets together weekly to draw a live model. It’s a great way to connect with fellow artists and exchange ideas.

Travel has been an important influence in my paintings. I spent quite a bit of time in the Caribbean as a child and the travel bug has taken me to Europe, South and Central America as well as Africa.Traveling has opened my eyes to so many colorful places and someday I hope to be able to hosts workshops abroad so that I can combine my love for both painting and travel.

Over the last few years, I’ve had some wonderful opportunities to have my watercolors featured on fine art show posters, marketing materials, magazine covers and apparel. You can see some of the resulting products in the gallery below.

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M.Graham Watercolor Merchandise Award, Transparent Watercolor Society, 1999

Signature status, Florida Watercolor Society


Delray Beach Magazine, May/June 2013
Cover Art

Palm Beach Illustrated, November 2003
“Sites to Behold”

Palm Beach Illustrated, December 2002
“For All It’s Worth”

Best of Watercolor, Painting Color
Rockport Publishers, 1997


Frank Webb, Frank Francese, Larry Gerber, Garri Katz, Don Andrews


University of Iowa BA in Journalism and Spanish language