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Photo essay: Jackson artist Ellen Langford

There’s a preciseness to artist Ellen Langford’s movements as she works on multiple projects in the workplace studio she shares with other artists.

Langford, 55, of Jackson, has been selling her artwork since she was in her twenties. It has been her only source of income for the last 13 years. 

Her paintings set forever in time a simplicity often missed or taken for granted by the hustle and bustle of life — a silhouetted figure lost in somersaults, an angler with a dog enjoying a day of fishing or how colors combine to create the sun’s kiss making ordinary leaves extraordinary. 

A paused paintbrush is replaced by a gloved finger to smear on more color. 

A palette knife replaces the gloved finger, adding a swoosh of another color.

Her creative mind’s eye is three or four steps ahead, guiding brushstrokes effortlessly as she moves from one painting to the next. Not with the jarring quickness of indecision. There’s fluidity at work, like a honeybee darting from bloom-to-bloom sampling the vastness of possibilities that the next flower is as sweet and rewarding, if not sweeter and more rewarding than the next.

“I was a paramedic, which is pretty demanding, and I painted when I could. But after personal bumps in the road, doing my shifts became impossible,” said Langford. “So, I took a ‘leap of desperation,’ instead of faith. And, here I am,” she said with a smile and shrug of her shoulders.

She stands for a moment with brush in hand, wearing paint-splattered coveralls, scrutinizing three paintings in progress. Then, she begins again, on all three.

“The process of painting is this middle space between thought and color you lose yourself in,” said Langford, as she dabs a stroke of paint on canvas before moving to another. “Painting speaks to people, and I want my paintings to be ever-evolving to continue the conversation.”


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