Below are two illustrations by Monte.  In an earlier posting of deer illustrations, two images were posted to provide an example of his creative mind when it came to producing illustrations of subject matter he had observed in his life.

As pointed out before, and it bears repeating, Monte commented on how a great deal of his creative artwork was based on items he had directly observed in nature with his own eyes.

In the two illustrations of Mallard ducks in flight, both include a leafless willow tree, muskrat dens and other waterfowl in the background.  Because Monte was known to make changes to his illustrations, at first glance, these two illustrations appear to be the same illustration, only that one is more refined than the other.

Early prototype of Mallards, Duck Island Marsh, 335Mallards, 269On closer examination, while very surprising similarities can be observed, it can be determined these are two different illustrations.

Below is a side by side comparison of a Mallard duck from each illustration. Note the difference in the shape of the heads, the position of the feet and the difference in the lower wings. There are even differences in the branches of the trees.  Still, the imagery is very similar.  000Mallardcomp

Below is a side by side comparison of a tree branch from each illustration.  Again, while both are uncannily similar, both are different in many aspects.

000branchcomIt is almost as if Monte’s mind would take a snapshot of images in nature, then file it way for later recall and recall with stunning detail.




Monte in Greenhead magazine

October 24, 2013

Last year a gentleman named Brent Birch from Greenhead magazine out of Arkansas contacted this blog to request the use of one of Monte’s illustrations for this particular publication. Permission was provided and images from the cover and the article within the magazine are below.

Greenhead cover



Greenhead mag pages

Below is the image without the text of the article.  Note, this illustration is somewhat incomplete and was later reproduced for a limited number of issued copies by Monte.

The finished product was later given to people, often in the form of a Christmas Gift.

Monte also used subtle amounts of color in a small number of these illustrations.

Early prototype of Mallards, Duck Island Marsh, 335





Monte, bw photo with Bald Eagle,smiling, 619Monte’s father John, had an older brother Fred (1909-1975).  Monte’s Uncle Fred was an avid outdoors-man and a self-taught taxidermist.  Over the years, Fred attained quite a large collection of animals and waterfowl and had many of these within glass enclosures in the basement of his home west of Banner, IL.

Fred Ellis passed away from a heart attack in 1975 while duck hunting in the Illinois River Bottoms.

Fred and John Illinois River Cabin. Monte, left, Fred Ellis, far right, Jared Ellis, kneeling.

Fred and John Illinois River Cabin. Monte, left, Fred Ellis, far right, Jared Ellis, kneeling.


Fred was married to a short, extraordinarily friendly woman named Theresa (1909-1992). Theresa was known for her radiant personality, perpetual permanent hairstyle and ruby-red lipstick, that would stain the cheeks of the many when in her presence.

Theresa Ellis and Sharyl Ellis in Hawaii, 1970's s

e Theresa Ellis and Sharyl Ellis in Hawaii

The reason this story could have ended badly is because under unknown circumstances, Monte’s Uncle Fred procured the corpse of an American Bald Eagle.  The American Bald Eagle was then stuffed and mounted and is depicted in the first and last photograph in this entry.

Monte was eventually given the American Bald Eagle by his Uncle Fred.

For years, the American Bald Eagle could be seen in Monte’s art room while the Ellis family resided at Big Lake. Eventually, the stuffed eagle was not so prominently displayed due to the mere possession of such an animal was illegal, with grave consequences if found to be in one’s possession.

Monte, bw photo with Bald Eagle, unsmiling, 619A year or two before Monte’s death, he was asked by his son what had happened to the American Bald Eagle.  Rather than directly answering the question, Monte simply replied that time had ravaged the appearance of the American Bald Eagle and that it was in terrible condition.

After Monte passed away in 2009, his home and possessions were carefully searched for the American Bald Eagle.  The eagle was never found.

It is very likely at some point Monte burned the eagle out of fear of not only having it in his own possession, but also out of the concern of leaving such an item behind upon his death.



Monte and The Law

October 20, 2013

Unk Location, Monte, 019

During Monte’s life, he had several encounters with Johnny Law.

One early encounter involved him and a long time friend being picked up in Peoria, Il as juveniles. It is unclear, but this encounter either included being picked up while trying to procure alcohol or trying to find an illegal poker game in a bad part of town. Unk Loc, Monte, with ducktails, playing cards, Mom's photos081 Another encounter was for a traffic infraction in late1960’s in the town of Banner, Il. Back then, this town had an explosive population of around 250. During this era, traffic scofflaws would be carted off to the Banner Township Hall and required to appear before a justice of the peace.

Mostly, Monte was respectful of those law officers deserving respect.

During the late 1980’s and into the early 1990’s, a somewhat rougher crowd would frequent the Banner Fire Department due to members of the fire department deciding to insert a keg of beer in a procured refrigerator. This included a beer tap and CO2 tank. It’s an ironic thing to imagine when it comes to volunteer firemen hoping for emergency calls with the thought of tapped beer awaiting their return. One day in the area of the firehouse, one of the more questionable guests came close to running over Monte’s grandson with a motorcycle. Plied with a certain amount of alcohol himself, Monte had stern words with this much younger man. The local sheriff’s department was called and somehow an older and frailer man was issued citation for disorderly conduct for trying to protect his grandson from that of a reckless younger man.

Around this same period, Monte and Sharyl became more vocal when it came to local politics and suspected irregularities when it came to local politicians and their practices.  Both of them and others started to attend township meetings seeking answers, which resulted in heated debates, the contacting of law enforcement officials and several articles in local papers.

At one point, Monte’s spirits were slightly raised when a federal agent expressed interest in possible federal infractions, however, Monte soon found out local issues lacked “sex appeal” to keep the action span of “the Feds” focused long enough to improve the local quality of life.

Later in his life, while leaving the tavern formerly known as the 9/24 Club, Monte, driving when he should not have been, struck and knocked over a heavy wooden road sign. The sign shattered his windshield and dented his hood, but he kept on going until the gasoline safety shut off in his Ford station wagon caused his vehicle to stall along the edge of the highway. Monte then walked home. Later in the evening, a Fulton County Sheriff’s deputy located Monte at his home after finding his damaged vehicle. Monte, still irritated over his much earlier disorderly conduct citation, was too wily to accept the deputy’s invitation of a seat in the back of his squad car. He told the deputy he was certainly drunk at the present time, but was sober hours earlier when the raccoon ran out in front of his station wagon, causing him to strike the road sign. He added, he was so upset about that inconsiderate raccoon it had caused him to come home and start imbibing at a much heavier and quicker pace.

The deputy ended up writing him several citations, none of which included DUI and informed Monte he would be on the look out for his station wagon.

When Monte’s son learned of this, he fabricated a tale of having a prosecutor friend from another jurisdiction contact Monte’s county seat on Monte’s behalf for a quick resolution.  His son simply called the local prosecutor’s office and asked what would happen if Monte plead guilty and afterwards called Monte and told him about the sweet deal offered for the plea because of the invented special influence, hoping to instill more responsibility when it came to his behavior.

During the last few years of Monte’s life, Monte’s behavior was being covertly reported back to his son by a cousin. Monte was stunned over the accuracy of the information his son was receiving and while consorting with one of his drinking partners, the two of them tried to figure out the identity of the spy, eventually latching on to the wrong person. Monte would rant over the incorrectly identified spy, describing this person in the most foul of descriptive words, however, over time, reprimands by his son had less and less impact (when Monte’s daughter Kathy was alive, for a time she had some influence on his more uncouth behavior, often referring to Monte as, “You asshole!”).

Peoria, road trip, Monte, Kathy, 636In the end, Monte simply declared he wanted to have as much fun as possible in the limited time he knew had above ground and went about his own way of doing so.  Monte, later Idaho trip, drinking beer at bus stop, 629Montie, guitar, Far North canoe trip 179