Ellen Wong Paintings and Drawings: Greetings From the Catskills

Greetings from the CatskillsNearly 30 years ago I came to this part of the Catskills with my young family, found a small second home on the edge of the woods, surrounded by glorious nature and just behind main street in Roxbury. A painting major in college and an art teacher by profession, working full time and raising a family, I found small moments for watercolors – still life and sketchbook drawings. Being here inspired me to propose a grant to follow in the footsteps of the Hudson River Painters, and reawakened the painter in me.  I received the grant which provided the impetus and motivation to immerse myself in studying the work of the Hudson River painters and painting in the Catskills. Armed with my French easel and new tubes of luscious Old Holland paints, hours of researching the artists and a letter granting me backroom admission to study, with white gloves and new eyes, the sketchbooks and work of Sanford R. Gifford, a Luminist and second generation Hudson River painter, and Frederic Church’s oil sketches on paper at Olana, I had rekindled my passion for painting and particularly for painting in this landscape.  In the winter of 1998 I had my first show of paintings at the Roxbury Arts Group Walt Meade Gallery.


Ellen Wong Paintings and Drawings: Greeting From the Catskills is a show of very recent oil paintings and works on paper, along with some earlier landscapes bringing together an experience of my nearly 25 year love affair with the Catskills landscape. This time Nature is truly at the center and I am humbled before her –my muse, my teacher and guide.  Her beauty is unrivalled, an infinite palette of hues and values, and it is always being transformed, changing from moment to moment, day to day and season to season, untamable and unpredictable and in a sense, unfathomable, I am challenged to grow, to change with each moment, to give shape to vapor, and form to shifting planes.  This series of work began with a small landscape, painted en plein air last summer, of a bubbling stream moving toward a covered bridge, on its way plummeting down a dramatic gorge.  To capture the sound, the movement of the water and the energy all around me, I found myself inventing new ways to move paint on the canvas, I had to keep moving, finding a fluidity in the paint and vitality in brush strokes that I had been striving for.  I was not happy painting as I had been taught. It seemed too static.  Nature is never the same. Corot cautions “clouds that stand still are not clouds” and I too needed to respond with an immediacy that painting outdoors calls for.


As I found myself painting through the seasons – quiet snowy fields, radiant autumn roads, rushing waterfalls cascading with thunderous torrents of spring rain, there was no formula to keep the paintings alive, to catch the quickly changing light, the clouds moving overhead, and so each painting has been a process of discovery and in many cases, I have returned to the same places multiple times to keep on trying to capture something of my experience there.  Sound and space have become so critical to what has inspired me for this show. I was struck by the deafening silence high up on Dugan Road, on what seemed like the top of the universe with a view to forever that suggests the untouched land of an earlier America, there was not a sound until I was startled by the chuff of a lone deer, watching me from a distance.


I paint because I have a great need to although it is often not easy to find the time and to pull myself away from a very busy and full life. Painting is a solitary experience for me.  I paint alone in Nature and there is something about the experience, that feeds me, feeds my soul and helps me to make a connection to something deep inside.  Having this show gives me an opportunity to share these experiences.



AMR Open Studio Tour 2017

 July 29-30 Artists Open Studio Tour,  see the work of over 18 artists in their studios on a self-guided tour . 



Local Gets Personal

ES 29
Double Jerseys, 2012, Oil on Linen, 18″x24″

Ellen Wong: Local Gets Personal

Opening Reception Saturday, July 28, 2012 – 4-6pm

At the Roxbury Arts Center, 5025 Vega Mountain Rd., Roxbury, NY 12474

The public is invited to attend the opening reception of “Local Gets Personal,” featuring the work of local artist Ellen Wong. The reception takes place on Saturday, July 28 at the Roxbury Arts Center, on Vega Mountain Road in Roxbury, from 4 until 6pm. For more than 20 years Ellen has been inspired and moved by nature, particularly the Catskill landscape.  As a part time resident of Roxbury, she has painted her life and the life around her.  “My work is about nature; the land and our connection to it.  I now find myself drawn to the places that embody the serene and quiet; the ordinary aspects of nature, rather than the spectacular and picturesque.  I move – on foot, bike, in a car – searching for the small moments and gestures – the play of light on a rain soaked road, golden farm fields freshly hayed , cows grazing in the breaking morning mist  and I stop to sketch, to paint, and in the process I become one with this moment.  This  show is about connection and relationship,  as it has developed over these years, with the very personal and very local landscape.  Each place is specific, true to a moment in time and space.  Yet,  I have tried to remove the unessential details, to become free from the slavish copying of nature, to paint for painting’s sake, as a surface with a life of its own. I sense it is a world that you too have experienced and savored.”  Susan Hoover, Woodstock poet, says of Ellen’s recent work, “you forget that you are standing in a gallery.  It puts the viewer into the present of the painting”


ES 27
2 Horses Winter, West Settlement Road, 2012, oil on linen, 12″x16″
ES 9
Dimmick Mountain Road, Vega, 2012, oil on linen, 6″x8″
Roxbury RR Depot Winter. 2012, Oil on linen, 8″x10″

Road Series

Rt 28 East, Rain, 2009, oil on gessoed paper, 22″x30″