Elise Ballard Whitehorn - Trekell Featured Artist

Elise Ballard Whitehorn - Trekell Featured Artist

Elise Ballard Whitehorn - Trekell Featured Artist

Elise is a self-taught, mixed media artist born and raised in Montana. She recently made a long move to New Mexico where she now resides alongside her best friend, a plethora of puppies, and her majestic cat.

For the past five years, art has been her full-time career as she's cultivated a following with her paintings and wood panel work. Inspired by human nature, symbolism, and all that is spooky, Elise mainly creates portraits conveying a variety of themes heavily derived from strong emotions. She specializes in pen and ink work, but in the past had been known to work with watercolor and acrylic.


What’s your preferred medium to paint?  Have you tried different mediums before?
When I first started, even before ever considering art as a career path, I used just about anything I could get my hands on. There was a moment where I was opening sharpies and painting with my fingers. I even watered down some old pastel chalk that I got at a garage sale at one point to paint. I wouldn't really recommend doing either, but at the time it's what I had at my disposal. I learned just what I was willing to do to create art and those moments always kind of stuck with me.

When I got serious about art as a career, I initially started out with watercolor, mostly sticking to that for the first few years. I loved the ability to layer and the different effects I could create using watercolor. Being the sort of person who spent their days matching their black shirt with black jeans though, I always found myself fretting over color schemes, and around two years ago during a 30 day pen and ink challenge on Instagram, I realized just how much I love using Ink. It's so simple and yet so versatile. Instead of worrying about color schemes, I decided to focus on technique and how much I could portray with black ink alone. Down the road I've started to add accents of color, but black and white remains the two biggest colors in my pieces. Since then ink has become my favorite medium to use.

Favorite living artists?
James Jean and Gabriel Londis would be at the top of my list. James Jean caught my attention when I was a teenager with the way he made "moody" seem so beautiful. His art was so different from the art I grew up exposed to in Montana and I've continued to follow his work ever since. Following him for so many years and watching his style change and evolve gave me the courage when I was afraid of leaving the comfort of watercolors. Gabriel Londis has been one of my biggest inspirations. Aside from his amazing artwork, his dedication to learning, creating, and continuously growing motivates me to push myself as well.

Favorite museum? 
To be honest, I haven't had many opportunities to visit museums. I grew up in a small town in Montana and hadn't travelled much until recently. So if I had to choose I'd say the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, it's a contemporary art museum in my home town. It's showcases a lot of art from our local art community which is something I've always appreciated. I look forward to visiting many museums when they all reopen but Paris Gibson will always be special to me.

What’s the meanest thing someone has said about your art?  How did you respond? 
A few years back, a woman commented on my work saying something along the lines of, "This isn't beautiful, it's disgusting. Art is supposed to be beautiful." My response was to just let it be, I read it and let the comment sit with me, but I didn't see a need to convince her that art can be so much more than just beautiful. Art doesn't have rules and doesn't need to explain itself, so I didn't really feel the need to either. If anything, I guess my response was to make even more "disgusting" art. It was really motivating in it's own way. I learned that even reactions like that can be good for me.

Who was you biggest supporter when you decided to pursue art as a career? 
These three people (in no particular order) have been my biggest supporters and closest friends; Andrea, Jalayne, and Tynisha. The second I even considered trying to make art a career they were completely supportive and all-in: coming to my art shows, sharing my work, and even helping me package orders at times. I didn't start out with the greatest confidence in myself either, so they made sure to give me pep talks during times where I second-guessed myself. I don't think I'll ever be able to fully express just how much their support has meant to me.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to make art for a living? 
Take chances on every opportunity you find, whether it's local art walks or sharing your art online. The social aspect of being an artist seemed intimidating to me in the beginning, so I worked on my online presence first. For me, that led to an influx of commissions from around the country. Although as artists we crave to create our own visions, I would urge you to at least consider every commission. Commissions that I received pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to experience and grow in ways I didn't necessarily think I needed to. For instance, I started venturing into painting animals more where-as my main focus had solely been portraits beforehand. I was surprised to see how the impact of creating art for other people broadened my own art in general; to my choice of subjects, my techniques, and even my imagination. As a bonus it also gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing and supportive people who were interested in my art! So my biggest piece of advice would be to consider them, try them, learn from them, but never sacrifice your own unique style! 

Elise's Favorite Trekell Products:
By far, the gothic and ornate panels are my favorite. The possibilities seem to be just about endless with the variety of panels Trekell sells and I love the way a finished piece looks when I work on them. I also absolutely love my protégé 7500 round brush, I use it for so many things and it's just as good as the day I got it.

Where to find Elise:
Instagram, Website

If you'd like a chance to be one of our featured artists, click here!



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