Watercolor and Pastel Artists at CHAW

Ellen Cornett


My life in the arts has taken a lot of twists and turns. I graduated from college with a degree in Studio Art and spent several years making silkscreen prints in apartment bathrooms while working a series of part-time clerical jobs. In time I started accepting illustration assignments and then started a small graphic design and illustration firm.

Fifteen years or so ago, I began teaching drawing and painting at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and for Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning. And I also started a more serious and dedicated studio practice of my own. For several years I cycled through periods of working in watercolor, oils, pen and ink, painting still life, figure and landscapes.

About nine years ago my work took on a narrative quality, and I started what has been a long series of pastel, charcoal, and carbon pencil drawings. I create surreal tableaux frequently referencing fairy tales, poems, and rhymes. While the subject matter of each image varies widely, a number of common motifs, such as human figures with animal heads, and animals in carts or on wheels, tie them together and make them seem like moments in one long, overarching plot. I strive to make something intriguing and meaningful from well-recognized sources, manipulating characters into odd vignettes of conflict, misunderstanding, and relationships gone awry.

I am done with graphic design, still do a little bit of teaching with people I care for, and spend most of my days in the studio. It is an enormously satisfying life, and I wake up every morning excited to get a pencil in my hand and start working.

Ellen The Second Blind Mouse

Ellen Cornett: The Second Blind Mouse. Carbon pencil.


Ellen Rabbit Ears

Ellen Cornett: Rabbit Ears. Carbon pencil.


Ringing in My Ears. Carbon Pencil by Ellen Cornett.

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