Fripp Island’s First Lady of Watercolors

in Arts by
Ellen Long with one of her watercolors.
Ellen Long with one of her watercolors.

Meet Ellen Long, a very young 75 year old. She recently won the Spirit Award from the Kanuga Workshops, not for her painting skills (which are extraordinary) but for her inner self. This award goes to the participating artist who “best reflects the qualities that sustain the vibrant community that has become the hallmark of the Kanuga workshops.” In other words, Ellen got it because of her outlook on life and her character that shines through her life as well as her work.

Ellen says, “Art has always been an important part of my life. I was born in Arkansas where art was included in the curriculum in public schools. I was entering art competitions as early as third grade and painted murals on the walls of faculty dining rooms in high school. At William & Mary, I was a Fine Arts major which led me to a 20+ year career in interior design.”

“My husband and I moved to Fripp Island in 1996. Here, I returned to my first love — painting. I fell in love with watercolors because of the spontaneity that can happen with this medium. You can get this glowing transparency that is not possible with other mediums.”

Ellen has been very involved with the Beaufort Art Association since she moved here. From starting galleries to entering juried shows all across the south. Ellen has done it all. As she describes herself, “I’m a one-man-band”. cover - ellen long

Her basic tenet is to “paint what you love”. She remarked, “I am so very fortunate to live where everywhere you look there is an inspiration for a new painting. I am awed by the incredible light at the ocean and marvel at all the creatures that share this beautiful space. I particularly like to paint the shore birds, deer, sea turtles and other “creatures” of the island and marsh. I only wish I had been able to re-start my painting career earlier. There is so much to do and too little time.”

Besides being an artist, Ellen is a printer of fine art and also runs a framing shop. She owns The Art Market on Fordham Street in downtown Beaufort which features her art as well as photography by Ken Bowman of Charleston, hand-made pottery by Julia Hetherington, hand-made Polymer Jewelry by Carolyn Alderman, original art by Hank Herring, and Watercolor Prints by Doug Gillett of Greenville, SC.

When not painting, or working in the gallery, or taking lessons, or doing a project for the BAA, she manages to find a little time, a very little time, to play a little golf and to garden.

Ellen is a great inspiration to us all and absolutely adds a wonderful vibrancy to our thriving artist community. Her three children, now all in their 50’s, say, “Mom, it’s time to slow down.” And Ellen’s answer? “I can’t. Remember I’m a one-man-band!”