Upfest 2017 – Bristol’s Lee Ellis – leaving the meaning for his audience

‘Lee Ellis is an artist born in Cheltenham England who currently lives in Bristol. Lee is an expressive artist not afraid to tackle the tortured expression and dramatic scenes sinking into the depths of the human psyche. Lee is an artist that has exhibited widely across the UK and is making the transition from part-time to full-time artist. Lee is an artist to watch, an artist developing his impactful style, producing work with blurred strokes and powerful marks carving himself out as an emerging, edgy and very talented artist.’ Upfest profile


Bit of background and how you got into art?

I have always been creative and from an early age loved drawing. I went to art college and studied graphic design at university. That’s my day job.

It wasn’t until I graduated that I began painting. I did the odd bit here and then, but it wasn’t until the year between graduating and working full time that I started to paint. A lot. I’m talking every day. That habit stuck and I’ve been doing it ever since. That was 2006. The style and technique has evolved massively over the years and is still developing, but the practice of painting and drawing every day remains the same. 

Influences on your work.

It is difficult to pin down specific influences as it’s the world around me and my experiences that really drive the work. Saying that there are some artists that I love and really inspire me.  These differ between the painters of the 19th & 20th century through to present day. I’m a massive fan of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Edward Hopper, Picasso and Van Gogh. Contemporary artist that are a also hugely inspirational to me are Adrain Ghenie, Adam Neate, Antony Micallef and Andrew Salgado. They all approach their artwork in unique ways, producing phenomenal works.

What have you been doing this year?

I’ve had quite a few shows now and am always looking for more.

I haven’t painted UPfest for a good three years, as I decided to give walls a break and focus on canvas & paper. This year is going to be tremendous.

I’ve been mostly painting and drawing. I’ve had the odd piece in shows, but mainly focusing on creating the work and building up my audience to get the work shown to as many people as possible.

What have you got coming up this year?

I have 6 paintings & 4 drawings in a group show at Well Hung Gallery, London at the moment. It runs until August 31st. I’m also taking part in the Totterdown Arts Trail in November. However, my wife and I are expecting our first child early November, so that could change things a little.

I’ve been working on a series of 1000 charcoal drawings.

What is your process?

It’s something I’m doing to improve on my drawings and composition. It’s also great for getting ideas out of my head quickly. My process for drawing and painting varies from piece to piece. I usually work on multiple paintings at the same time. This means all pieces evolve together. 

What is important to you about your art?

What’s important is that I keep creating it. As far as meaning, I leave that for the audience to interpret.

Where people can find you at Upfest?

I’m painting at Ashton Gate. Come say hello, I’m always happy to have a chat.  

Can you tell me something about what you will be doing at Upfest?

I will be painting a large board and merging graphical pattern elements, mark making and portraiture. 

What are you looking forward to about Upfest?

Meeting people, chatting and having a pint in the sun. 


Website            Instagram

See  Lee’s work at Ashton Gate

Upfest Saturday 29, Sunday 30 Monday 31 July 2017

Upfest Festival Map

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