FEATURE: SUSAN ELLIS - Capturing Souls in Shades of Blue
It felt as though I had wandered into a private art gallery. I sauntered from room to room, taking in every emotion filtering through my eyes in iridescent hues of blue. This was the first time I experienced Susan Ellis Art up close.
When I booked my first weekend getaway at La Maison on Main, it wasn’t just the amenities, ideal location or exquisite design and décor that hooked me - it was also the art.
This luxury Cape Town villa, located in the heart of Paarl, has vibrant Expressionism-inspired African art for sale, complementing the exquisitely curated interior design. It was in chatting with one of the owners of La Maison, that I learnt of the local South African artist who had painted the artwork. So naturally, I had to find out more.
The Story Behind the Art
Susan Ellis, a local artist from Cape Town, discovered her love for all things creative at an early age. Although she never thought of herself as a creative, her childhood is dotted with memories of designing and making clothing for her dolls. And so, drawing from her childhood inspiration, Ellis began her career as a bridal gown designer, which is how Lorretta, co-owner of La Maison, and Ellis first met.
In 2012, Ellis designed Lorretta’s wedding dress, and it was at a dress fitting that she almost instantaneously fell in love with her artwork. So it was somewhat serendipitous when a vibrant painting of a lion hanging in the Susan Ellis Art studio caught Lorretta’s eye. Not only is Lorretta’s star sign Leo, but the artwork is the spitting image of her chow, Sam.
Although Ellis had no formal art qualification, she forged her path in the Cape Town art scene, elevating her natural artistic flair, ability and passion for creating with five years of weekly art sessions at two art studios.
“I believe anyone can paint...you just have to put time and work into developing your skills and mind. We were all artists as children but somehow lost that ability along the way.”
Lorretta went on to commission various pieces, including two portraits of Nelson Mandela, one of which sits at the entrance of the La Maison Sunroom. The piece, neatly nestled beside a teal floor-to-ceiling bookshelf housing carefully selected books, heightens the elegance of this charming space.
Lorretta and Ellis kept in touch over the years. When it came time for the grand opening of La Maison on Main, Lorretta knew the element of local art was all that was needed to add those eloquent finishing touches that La Maison has become renowned for.
Lorretta decided on African-inspired artwork and now showcases Ellis’s work in almost every room of the Cape Town villa.
Moreover, all the artwork at La Maison Properties is for sale. This allows for newly curated artwork from the local artist to be exhibited for years to come, making for a potentially new art experience with every visit!
As you enter the open-plan living space of La Maison On Main, vibrant laughter emanates from the artwork perched above the fireplace.
Although Ellis isn’t formally trained and doesn’t attribute a specific art influence to her work, she deeply admires Abstract Expressionism and is inspired by natural beauty.
The bold cross-hatch gesture brush strokes, a technique reminiscent of the Impressionist art movement, are a common thread running through Ellis's artwork, creating a modern pixelated image on the canvas.
The ‘acrylic pixelation’ in shades of blue, highlighted with hues of orange and stone, expresses movement and almost seems to capture the vibrancy of laughter.
The artwork in the main and second bedrooms has a solitary yet calming feel to them. They exude regality, highlighting that there is beauty in strength and vulnerability.
This piece rests elegantly above the luxurious king-size bed in Suite 1 (the main bedroom), accentuating the antique minimalist décor. The stark juxtaposition of blues and white creates a sense of solitary pride.
The vigorous gestural brushstrokes resemble the bold local print and wrap of her headscarf, encapsulating the ancestral beauty of this female form.
This piece rests in the comfort of Suite 2 (the second bedroom). The dripping paint emulates strength in solitude, illustrating the constant thoughts, concerns and memories we often carry with us.
Ellis’s artwork finds a beautiful balance between negative and positive space, and the intensity of the shades of blue emphasizes the emotive aspects of this piece perfectly.
This image radiates joy and happiness in Suite 3 (the third bedroom), which overlooks the delightful entertainment/pool area at the back of this Cape Town Villa. Shades of stone and orange compliment bold brushstrokes and dripping techniques in hues of blue, interwoven to accentuate the subject's natural beauty.
This has to be one of my favorites - her soul illuminated in her eyes, capturing the emotion ever so subtly yet ever so clearly.
What’s In Store for La Maison and Ellis?
With the upcoming launch of La Maison Onrus Hermanus, art lovers can soon look forward to a weekend getaway alongside some of Ellis’s latest work, coupled with the breathtaking views of this charming coastal villa.
The Susan Ellis Art gallery has recently launched in Greyton, where you’ll not only find a wide range of African art for sale, but you’ll also be able to commission original or existing pieces.
The work of this local artist has forever found a home in my heart and may find a place in yours on your next stay at La Maison on Main. The pure love of the subject captured in the artwork is captivating, illustrating Susan Ellis’s inspiration that primes every canvas she casts color on - “capturing souls in shades of blue.”
If you’re looking for family friendly self catering accommodation in Paarl South Africa, La Maison on Main offers all the amenities and comfort of home, conveniently located in the heart of Paarl. La Maison on Main is listed on all secure booking sites, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Safarinow.com, Places, SA-venues.com, Capestay.com, Booknow.co.za, Afristay, Trivago, Sleeping-out and Lekkerslaap, and for ease of booking and exclusive offers, simply book directly with the hosts.