Capturing Natural Form

Ellie Evelyn Orrell is an artist and writer inspired by her local surroundings in the Welsh countryside and her travels across the globe. Explore Ellie's contribution to ‘Stories within Our Isles’, which is an article and a beautiful collection of her artwork that captures the natural, raw designs from her travels, 'capturing the magical moments of everyday life'.

Through the use of pared-down lines and simple forms, my work tries to disentangle everyday moments into its own simplified language of drawing. Using a combination of collage, painting and ink drawing, each piece is rooted in daily life: a rainy landscape, messy breakfast table or familiar face. I tend to carry sketchbooks with me to briefly record things that I see over the day whilst I’m walking, travelling or sitting in cafes. I treasure those outside drawings, which occasionally become distorted by raindrops or a scratch of mud: those that record the stone-coloured lines of a winter branch or the arrival of orange crab-apples in the autumn. I also keep written notes on my phone or in books, which exist alongside my sketches as an attempt to collect the colours, sounds and the atmosphere of a moment, which I’ll later translate into a drawing. In this way, I often work from memory, using drawing as a way to process and appreciate the day’s events over the course of an evening or afternoon. I’ll also collect things along my walks and bring them home to draw; pieces of bracken or lichen, which I use as points of reference for shapes and colours.

The colours of my work have always drawn from the rural landscapes in which I’ve spent my life: the purple hills and the saturated fields which accompany months of hard rain in Wales, the grey-blue coast of Fife punctuated by burnt orange sea-buckthorn and the golden earth of Andalusia. The absence of wild nature somehow leaves me with a longing to return to hills and rivers and so, after three months spent in The Hague last year, I was drawn back to Wales once again. I have found inspiration in cities too, but it is always in a city’s parks, beaches, lakes or forests: the Jardin de Murillo in Seville, or the outskirts of Stockholm where one can slip from a sauna into icy-black lake. At its most basic level, my work is attempting to capture these magical moments of everyday life: an outdoor swim, a coffee shared with a friend or the glow of a beeswax candle. Drawing becomes a way in which I can re-live and communicate these moments to others as well as savouring something of them for myself. It also becomes a way in which I can notice the changing of seasons; snow clinging to a branch or the colour of frost-covered grass which inevitably become warmer tones with the coming of spring.