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Ellis Bray

Teaching Artist He/Him

The primary medium will be acrylic paint, and I will have 4-6 "add-ins" for adding texture. Some suggested mediums might be: heavy gloss gel, seashell fragments and/or glass fragments (can be purchased in bulk in places like Michael's), sand, pebbles, small beads, modeling paste, or hot glue. As a group, we will paint one picture, but each student will be encouraged to use any of the media available, applied by any means they can feasibly use: fingerpainting, paintbrushes, palette knives, etc. Proper use of palette knife application would be briefly discussed, as well as general safety considerations.

The goal would be to allow the students to reconsider what is needed in order to "make art" -- even finger-painting can create art, if it's directed to a purpose. It would also be to let them bring another bodily sense to the appreciation of art.

Objective: To teach students about non-traditional art methods that add texture to the piece and be tactile in the process.


I'm a mixed media artist who focuses on using texture to bring the audience into the painting with their fingers/sense of touch. A concordant texture is something I strive for in all of my pieces: if the piece is sad, I use seashell pieces for sharpness; if the piece is calm, I use heavy gel acrylic for smooth softness. Because I'm also autistic, texture is important to me on a personal level, and I aim to give everyone the same pleasure that feeling something textured gives me.



Ellis Bray discovered his need for art when his daughter was in the NICU: in between

visiting every 3-6 hours to help care for her, he used art to manage his anxiety. When she

came home six weeks later, his art continued and, six years later, they now do art projects

side by side at the kitchen table while his son watches.

In his pieces, Ellis uses mixed media to juxtapose the everyday and the apocalyptic, in both

traditional and digital formats.

Traditionally, he prefers acrylic ink, and will add in items like seashells, heavy gel, sand,

jewels, etc., for texture. He is very fond of the portability of colored pencils, though, and

often has a set with him.

Digitally, he paints his scenes atop photographs -- either his own photography or royalty-free

stock photography. (He adores NASA’s stock photography.) By manipulating the photograph

to match the painting, he can effectively blend the two together to create a surreal scene that

leaves the audience wondering which one is real.

For his clockwork and pyrography, he uses gel medium transfers, acrylic or alcohol ink, and

tinted varnishes. These pieces tend more towards the fantastical and often have glitter or mica

powder included in some capacity.

No matter the substrate, though, each piece has the running theme of finding hope where,

logically, there should be none. He terms this idea “uncanny optimism,” and it is one of the

guiding principles in his life.

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Messy Emotions, Messy Art


4/5/2024 Friday 5-8pm


Messy Emotions, Messy Art

4/12/2024 Friday 5-8pm

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