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Snow Haiku 2016

Snow at Twilight, oil on canvas, 20 x 25 inches, copyright ©1983
Snow at Twilight, oil on canvas, 20 x 25 inches, copyright ©1983

Snow Haiku 2016

Running through the woods,
past the snow laden pine boughs
and the ice-laced brush.

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Bread Of Life Mission

Bread of Life Mission, oil on canvas, 45 x 69 inches, copyright ©1988
Bread of Life Mission, oil on canvas, 45 x 69 inches, copyright ©1988

This is the first urban landscape that I produced after moving to Seattle. I had done some shipyard and Queen Anne neighborhood subjects, beginning when I was still living in Spokane. Those paintings had been shown at Foster/White Gallery. I believe that I was still showing at Foster/White when this was completed and sold, but I began showing at Davidson Galleries shortly thereafter. It is the first time that I had tackled a complex street scene with multiple figures.

I no longer know where this painting is. It was purchased by a law firm that had offices in what was then called Columbia Tower, now called Columbia Center, and I presume it is still in their lobby.

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Broadway Vampires, 1989

Broadway Vampires, oil on canvas, 63 x 68 inches, copyright ©1989
Broadway Vampires, oil on canvas, 63 x 68 inches, copyright ©1989

This is another painting from my first show at Davidson Galleries. The subject is from Halloween night the previous year. I wanted to paint some ghouls, vampires and other creatures of the night. I did several paintings of similar subjects. This painting, which is quite large, depicts a couple of dangerously seductive vampires. The one on the right was the sister of my then girlfriend, the sculptor Heather Ramsay. The one on the left was a stranger that we met in Pioneer Square, and who was happy to tag along as part of our “coven.” ‘Broadway Vampires’ is now in the collection of John and JoAnn Laney, old friends from my New York days.

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Running Man, 1989

Running Man, oil on canvas, 18 X 24 inches, copyright ©1989 | 3/56
Running Man, oil on canvas, 18 X 24 inches, copyright ©1989

This painting was included in my first exhibition at Davidson Galleries in 1989. It was purchased by John Hauberg, a noted businessman and supporter of the arts in Seattle. John Hauberg was also the founder of the Pilchuck Glass School. When he passed away in 2002, many of the works from his collection were sold. However, I was told by my then dealer John Braseth, that this work would remain with the family. I am not certain of the current whereabouts of Running Man, but it has always been one of my favorites among the small early cityscapes that I’ve done.

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Portrait

Val and Peggy's Kids, oil on canvas,  26 x 32 inches, copright ©1992
Val and Peggy’s Kids, oil on canvas, 26 x 32 inches, copright ©1992

This is a painting of my old friends Val and Peggy’s children, done 23 years ago. I was able to photograph this during my recent trip to Spokane. The painting was a trade for a car, I believe a Toyota, although I don’t really remember it. I do remember that I ran it into the ground. At one point the latch on the hood was no longer working, and I duck-taped the hood shut. On a few occasions the duck tape lost adhesion, and the hood flew up while we were driving on the freeway. Fun times.

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Civil Architectures – A Snapshot of an Era

Civil Architectures, oil on canvas, 42 X 60 inches, copyright ©1999
Civil Architectures, oil on canvas, 42 X 60 inches, copyright ©1999

This painting is based on the view from the studio of the late Ako Lindley, where I was teaching painting workshops at the time. It’s a gray, overcast day, very typical of Seattle. Ako’s studio was in the 619 Western building, at one time called the Ace Novelty building, later condemned after the Nisqually Earthquake in 2001.

The painting became the cover image for a show at Davidson Galleries, also called Civil Architectures. It appeared on the showcard, and also on a tee shirt that was produced to advertise the exhibition. It was my last show at Davidson before I moved to Woodside/Braseth Gallery for about 6 years. I eventually went back to Davidson Galleries, and had several more shows there before Sam Davidson decided to phase out his Contemporary Painting and Sculpture department to focus on prints.

The opening reception for Civil Architectures was crowded, and music was provided by Jazz singer Jay Clayton, accompanied by the great trombone player and composer Julian Priester.

The painting was sold about 5 years later to Daniel Smith, Inc., the manufacturer and dealer in art supplies. They also leased the image to grace the cover of one of their annual catalogues. The price of the painting exceeded their budget by a considerable amount, so we agreed that I would take the difference in art supplies, some of which I’m still using almost 10 years later.

Today Pioneer Square is being transformed. The Alaska Way Viaduct, also damaged by the earthquake, is coming down and being replaced by a tunnel. Substantial renovation is planned, and galleries and shops that made the area unique are starting to relocate. The gallery scene itself is becoming less concentrated and less focused. The heart of Pioneer Square, Elliott Bay Book Company, moved out many years ago. Pioneer Square has always been at the mercy of land owners and property managers that have generally mixed high rent expectations with a low vision quotient. Older developers tended to favor more interesting mixed use development, but urban renewal fads favoring either high-end office space, or later high-end urban residential seem to create more instability for the neighborhood. I lived there during one of its brief periods of glory, in the 1990s, when the mix of galleries, artists’ live work-spaces, quaint shops and cabarets created rich material for paintings and café culture. I’ve missed it ever since.

Here is another image from those years in Pioneer Square:

3 Men, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches, copyright ©1996
3 Men, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches, copyright ©1996

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Jun
26

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About

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William E. Elston is a professional artist and teacher living in the Pacific Northwest. He has exhibited for over 40 years, and has works in numerous public and private collections, both in the region and internationally. He is best known for urban and rural landscape images. He is also a founding member of the Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance.

William Elston teaches ongoing plein air classes during the Spring, Summer and Fall months. Classes are held at various locations throughout the greater Seattle area.

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