Artmaker: Painter focuses on seaside landscapes, imaginative interiors

  • UMass Amherst junior Ellie Trudeau of Wilbraham works on an acrylic painting in the Studio Arts Building at the school. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • A view near Provincetown, acrylic on canvas, by Ellie Trudeau. Image courtesy of Ellie Trudeau

  • Ellie Trudaeu’s portrait of computer guru Steve Jobs, made for a Connecticut restaurant. Image courtesy of Ellie Trudeau

For The Recorder
Thursday, January 04, 2018

University of Massachusetts Amherst junior Ellie Trudeau began taking art lessons in the third grade, and she hasn’t stopped yet. The art education major and painter, who’s 20, works primarily in acrylic and enjoys creating seaside landscapes and some imaginative interiors as well.

A Wilbraham native, she’s already had some interesting commissions for her work. Last year the mother of one of her sister’s friends asked her to paint some off-beat portraits for a speakeasy-themed restaurant she and her husband were opening in West Hartford, Connecticut. Trudeau did one on a trial basis — a tattooed Mark Twain clutching a beer — and the owners liked it so much that Trudeau added numerous other funky portraits, like Coco Channel taking a selfie and Steve Jobs holding a pistol.

“I had a blast,” says Trudeau.

The Recorder: Talk about the work you’re currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Ellie Trudeau: I am currently building a body of work that consists mostly of coastal landscapes. A lot of my paintings are based off of a color pallet that is in harmony with a particular interior space. My intention is to create paintings that bring that space to the next level visually.

T.R.: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

E.T.: I draw inspiration from a lot of the galleries on Cape Cod, particularly the East End of Provincetown. I have always vacationed on the Cape in the summer, and the art there is one of my favorite parts. I spend a lot of time gathering source images around the beaches, marshes and dunes on the Cape that I look back on to paint during the year. Much of my work is also informed by the world of interior design.

As far as revelations go, I experiment with all kinds of scales and new materials, changing up my process and methods as often as possible.

T.R.: Name two artists you admire or who have influenced your work. What about their art appeals to you?

E.T.: Charles-Francois Daubigny for his breath-taking French landscapes, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir for the sensuality of his style and his intimate compositions of everyday life.

T.R.: What’s the most recent exhibition/concert/book reading/other event by another artist or group that you’ve attended and enjoyed?

E.T.: I was able to hear installation artist Fred Wilson speak at UMass this fall. His work is groundbreaking.

T.R.: Do you listen to music while you’re working?

E.T.: Always! I create all kinds of playlists for myself on Apple Music. I love Podcasts as well. I also listen to the news when I paint.

T.R.: What do you do when you’re stuck?

E.T.: I know I can’t force great work, so I leave the studio and do something unrelated to art. I can paint for hours on end, but when there’s nothing left in me, I know it’s time to stop and just come back to it tomorrow.