Meet The Artist: Janina Tukarski Ellis


Each quarter, we display work from a different local artist at our Main Street Real Estate Gallery. Our newest featured artist is Janina Tukarski Ellis. To learn a little more about Janina, we asked her some questions about her work.

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Explain the process you go through for your work. What draws you to the mediums you choose?

I use both acrylic and oil paint in my process. I love the rough-brushwork textures that can be pulled out of half-dried acrylic paint. However, for color, I prefer the soft blendability and deep pigmentation of oil paints. I begin my paintings by building up layers of acrylic. I alternate between layers of thin, runny washes and thick impasto-style brushstrokes. Once I am confident in my under-painting, I completely put away my acrylic pallet and break out my oil paints. With oil paint, I deepen the color in the shadows and play with the various hues in the light areas. I do not add any small details until the very end. 

unknown-2What piqued your interest in art?

My mother is a professional artist, so my entire childhood was heavily influenced by art. As a child, you cannot help absorbing from your surroundings, whether from décor at home, excursions to galleries and museums, or childhood art projects. I cannot name a specific time when I ‘became interested in art,’ because art has always been a part of my home environment.  

How would you describe your style of art?

I would call my art impressionism. Of course, the original French Impressionists would probably be horribly offended at my use of their word. However, any time that ’the viewer’s eye blends the color,’ the term impressionism can be applied. Therefore, I audaciously choose to claim the term, as well.  

unknown-1Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?

The majority of my work features crowds of people in energetic communal settings, going about their everyday lives. Through the years, I have narrowed down my favorite people-watching spots to three places: The Munich Hauptbahnhof, The Modern Art Museum in downtown Munich and Grand Central Station in New York City. Because of the dynamic atmosphere, ever-changing crowd patterns and complicated lighting, these three places are featured repeatedly in my paintings.   

What’s your favorite piece of your own work?

My favorite painting is one that I titled “Family Portrait.”  The scene takes place in the Munich Hauptbahnhof. If you look closely, you can just make out my husband and I among the bustling crowds of travelers. As a rule, I invite my viewers to ‘put themselves into the painting.’ In this case, I did.

unknown-3What’s an interesting fact about you or your work?

Although I am an American citizen, I spent 22 years in Munich, Germany. Greenville is my adopted home, but Munich will always be my true home.  

What famous artist do you most admire?

Although I have many favorite artists, Degas is the one that I find myself drawn to. He somehow mastered the art of combining seemingly contradictory painting techniques, without losing the overall feel of unity within an individual work of art. 

To learn more about Janina Tukarski Ellis, visit her website.

Come meet Janina Tukarski Ellis at our Artist Reception on January 26th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Main Street Real Estate Gallery. Janina’s art will be on display at the gallery from January – March.