May 23, 2010

It was always hoped to one day sit down with Monte and gather information on individual pieces of work.  Unfortunately, for a couple of reasons that was not done.

As mentioned before, years prior to his death, Monte’s wife, Sharyl, gave two, large flat boxes of art to their son, Eric, out of fear Monte would destroy them due to his perfectionist eye.  This greatly angered Monte and while the anger did subside after the returning of his artwork, Monte would mention Sharyl’s act from time to time and remind people what an artistically unjust act it had been  (in a justified retort, Sharyl would remind Monte what he had once done to a set of red chairs belonging to her, but that is another story for a later time).

With the knowledge of Monte’s claim of artists destroying their early works of hard to look upon art, it was feared if some of his older pieces would be put before him, he might do just that.  With age, it would not have been surprising if Monte had forgotten many of the pieces of artwork contained in those boxes and hidden away in the rooms of Monte and Sharyl’s house and reminded of them, he may later seek them out and destroy them.

Time was another factor in not getting Monte’s words down on the origins and inspirations of many of his pieces.  Of course, in many of his pieces, the inspiration or origin does not need to be asked.

The first image is a painting of Christmas tree ornaments.  It is posted so show again, a sort of contradiction in Monte’s portrayal depictions and his personality. It would have been interesting to know what drove him to paint such a painting, but if he had been reminded of this painting, it may have been one item he may have wanted to destroy.

Below is a painting of flocks of Canada geese and a large Sycamore tree.  From an earlier interview in a local paper, Monte stated many of his pieces were reproduced from memory.   For years, down at the Rice Lake Conservation Area, there stood a lone, tall tree jutting before Rice Lake.  This tree stood guard on the south side of the channel where one would guide a boat from the Rice Lake boat docks out onto Rice Lake.

It would be interesting to know if that image worked itself into this painting.


Below are photographs of three paintings by Monte completed while a young man.   Monte sold each of these paintings.

The first photograph only partially captures the Canada Geese in flight painting.

Below is a black and white photograph of Monte taken at Big Lake while he is standing in front of the above painting.  The black and white photograph captures more of the Canada Geese painting.  On the wall over Monte’s right shoulder is another of his paintings.

Below is a photograph of a painting of a male, Northern Pintail.

Below, a pair of Wood Ducks.

Below is a photograph taken at Big Lake of Monte and Sharyl’s daughter Kathy, son Eric and Monte’s parents Zelma and John Ellis.  In the background is the Wood Duck painting.

Below are three illustrations.  The first is a pencil of an Aborigine and two foxes.  The second is a pastel of a rock formation in water.  And the third, a mixture of a pencil and pastel of a resting buck deer.

The origins of the Aborigine and foxes illustration is not known.  The inspiration of the rock formation most likely comes from one of Monte’s trips up north.

Of the last image, Monte made a limited number of lithographs from the illustration and gave several as gifts from time to time.

On the blogroll…

May 8, 2010

Down at the bottom of this page are several interesting blogs and sites.  One of them recently added is Jane Garrison Ward’s photographic blog about nature areas in Central Illinois called Walk With Me.  Please visit her site and enjoy her photographs.  The beauty of her captured imagery of Central Illinois nature will probably surprise visitors.  Monte would have enjoyed her photographs very much.  Also, she has photographed many areas known to Monte through all of his years.  Ms. Ward has posted many, many photographs of the Emiquon preserve.  Monte was very excited about the growth of this area.  She also has other nature related links on her own blogroll.

Other links  include Illinois Artists and the Traditional Fine Arts  Organization (TFAO).  TFAO is an organization that catalogs information on American artists.

Below is a drawing posted earlier of six men.  It is possibly a rough sketch of a potential painting Monte planned to do, but for some reason did not complete.  Through an old photograph in the property left behind by Monte and Sharyl Ellis, three of the four figures at the bottom right of the drawing have been identified.  The figure in the upper, left hand corner and the cherub man of the lower quartet, have yet to be identified.

As indicated by Sharyl’s handwriting on the back of another located photograph, the main focus of the drawing is of John F. Ellis, Monte’s father, at the of 22.

The black and white photograph is also posted below.

Of the group of four men, the upper, left man is John Courtney; the upper, right man is John’s older brother Fred Ellis and the lower, right man is John Ellis.

Both of these images also appear in the book, Nine Generations of Ellis History 1600s-2000, by M. Fred Ellis, a son of John and Zelma Ellis and a younger brother of Monte.

Remaining Artwork

May 1, 2010

Shortly after Monte passed away, a common question asked by different people was how much of Monte’s artwork remained.   Some items were most likely destroyed by Monte and many of his finest pieces remain on the walls in the possession of people and have gone undocumented in photography.

Of the items posted on this blog, so far they have been posted in a manner to illustrate Monte’s wide ranging skill.  Only a number of his pencils and paintings have been posted as of this time.  In the future, his remaining paintings will be photographed and the images posted, along with additional other mediums.

Below is a photograph of Monte, Eric and Kathy, with the injured deer the Monte Ellis family nursed back to health while living at Big Lake.

In Monte’s artwork, most men are portrayed as outdoors men, adventurers or in the more masculine of settings.  Below is an early pencil of three men in a rustic cabin.

Below is a drawing of some sort of bows-man.

An early painting of a Spanish Conquistador.  The origins of this painting are not known.