This past weekend my husband and I took a walk through the Minuteman Trail at Meriam’s Corner in Concord. It was an absolutely gorgeous Fall day but not the kind with flame-colored trees – more of a subdued nature with faded colors and skeletal trees.  There were some remaining flowers holding on tightly to a faded kind of beauty.  It was inspiring to say the least and I couldn’t wait to get home to set up my easel outside and begin to capture some of this inspiration. “You can’t get there from here…” – you know that phrase attributed to my people from Maine (said with a drawn out “there” and “here”) but I did think that I could get from browns and tumbleweeds to something approaching lively florals with a touch of Fall’s grip on them …


I decided on trying to capture the faded flowers that were clinging to a different season.  There were still colors hanging on in my garden but underneath was the darkened decay of the leaves – the same colors that I could see on my walk through the park.  I began by layering all the darkness onto the canvas and then tried to pull in the flowers that were left blowing around in my backyard.  Pinks, greens and yellows were what I was feeling and so I broadly splashed those colors over my canvas.  I’ve been inspired lately by the effortlessness of Cy Twombly and the naive florals of his son, Alessandro.  In case you are wondering there is nothing effortless or naive when you are trying to conjure either of the Twomblys.  Their paintings are sophisticated and complicated in their wild abandon – at least to me.

leftovers: new artwork by Ellen Kelley McHale
leftovers: new artwork by Ellen Kelley McHale

I always let my paintings sit so I can think on the direction that they will take next.  After some walking away multiple times on multiple days, I saw in my mind the hanger-on flowers of my walk – the one’s with the tight grip on the last season and I finished my painting. I was really excited because it ended up the way I imagined it would with the flowers looking up to the sky  capturing the last of the good light.

“Leftovers” mixed media on canvas, 18×24

I’m off to Paris and am so excited.  Will have loads to share once we are back.

See you soon,


2 thoughts on “inspiration and process

  1. Valerie says:

    I love hearing about the process, Ellen and from where you draw inspiration. I cannot wait to hear about your trip! Have a wonderful time. xo

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