Ellen Langford paints a playful, and often joyful, outlook on life. After years away, studying and making art, it has been in returning to Mississippi that her work has found its rhythm and become highly narrative as she tries to make sense of the race, class, religious, cultural, and the mixed up gumbo of this place.


IMG_9883What gives you inspiration or motivates you to create art?

LIFE, OBSESSION, An interior imperative to communicate a visual story.

Tell us about your first art show or first painting you sold.

RR SQUARE.  As a college student I’d been working at a local art cinema/café, The Railroad Square Cinema/Cafe. It was, and still is, a meca for arts and intellectual types throughout Maine. They had been very supportive of my painting, and when I returned from my last semester, which I’d spent at an art school in Italy, The Square gave me my own show.


Tell me what your are working on now? and What is the title?

The same story of humans and creatures and the landscapes we inhabit. Always multiple works and series which sort of fit together, and grow from one to the next (I hope). I’m constantly working on finding balance and structure and hope.

How does working in Mississippi impact your art?

I think living here has had a huge impact on the way the language of paint appears on my surfaces. I feel the beautiful, heartbreaking emotional juggling act of holding up all the oppositional realities vying for a voice. Hospitality, Racism, Literature, Ignorance, Wealth beyond reason next to devastating poverty, a rich history in a place with severely limited understanding of history, even in those with multiple degrees.

IMG_4590What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Work Hard + Work Hard + Work Hard. Keep learning as much as you can about the world and your craft. I often recommend a book called

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

What music do you listen to while painting or creating?

A pretty wide range. Leontyne Price. Willie Nelson. Beyonce. I listen to lots of audio books while I paint as well.
And podcasts.


How do you describe your work/style? What themes do you pursue?

Finding openness, balance, narrative out of chaos. I usually describe my work as representational and narrative, with an emphasis on color-play, without being traditional portrait or landscape work.

What do you hope others see in your work?

A process of opening into a hopefulness.

IMG_4563What is your favorite piece of work that you have created?

Portrait of my father I painted in oil on cardboard in 1987.

Favorite or most inspirational place.

Painting of Michael & Beth’s land, south of Tchula, Mississippi.

IMG_4593What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

I don’t know if it was the best advice I’ve ever gotten, but a college professor saw I was having difficulty taking myself seriously as an artist and encouraged me to pursue it as I had my tennis and basketball. “You’re a jock,” he said. “You might be athletic but you have to work really hard for it to mean anything.” “You have to do that with art. Being born talented is great, but you still have to work you’re a-s off to get anywhere.”

What’s on your walls?

Friend’s art, my son’s art, art that was my parents, photos of family and friends.

What do you love most about being an artist?

Seeing the world from a very different perspective than most folks, and getting to share that perspective with the rest of the world.

IMG_4585If you could purchase one work of art, what would you select?

Doesn’t Exist – A portrait of my son.

A final thought…

“Find the importance to push the world to see the beauty beyond what we find comforting – the beauty in the world outside our limited view.” ELLEN LANGFORD

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