Although there is a plethora of artists located in the Jackson area, Ellen Langford distinguishes herself as a masterful painter who creates recognizable works of art. As a Mississippi native, she is inspired by the scenes of the south while working to infuse positivity into her work by using bright colors and painting figures that seem as though they are moving on the surface.
Langford’s paintings are often landscapes that feature people, animals, buildings, and more. The figures have realistic outlines while conversely being abnormally colored. This contributes to each painting’s whole color palette. This is notable because one of the most striking things about Langford’s paintings is the shades of colors that she uses. Though she sometimes works with a very limited color palette in order to create her desired effect, she usually works less restrictively; often, her color choices are based only on the range of paint shades she has and lets various factors influence the exact colors. This can include humidity or temporary material changes.
Despite working in oils for some of her earlier pieces, Langford currently mainly works with acrylic paint. She not only prefers this medium because it is more cost-effective, but also because it dries quicker. This means that she can easily work on multiple pieces at once and create distinct layers of paint without having to wait as long as she would with oils. However, she does not only use acrylics. “I’ve been working more in the last couple of years in gouache [because] I’m trying to figure out how to get a little bit more environmentally friendly.” This alternative creates more muted color palettes for paintings.
Although Langford is a Mississippi native, she has not always lived in the state. Still, it is a notable inspiration for her; returning to Mississippi after time away influenced her work immensely, and she believes that time she spent in rural areas of the state contributed to the narrative aspects of her work. Such locations occur frequently in her paintings, which often depict farmland and wide-open spaces. However, the more urban capital city of Jackson has impacted her career as well. She notes the benefits of being based out of a relatively small city: “[In Jackson], I can kind of be a big fish […] in a somewhat small pond and that helps me get to know all kinds of people through my work which I feel like then feeds my work.”
Educated at a wide variety of schools and institutes, Langford believes that the key to a good education in art is the quality and passion of the professors. Additionally, she encourages those who are passionate about art and want to pursue a career in the field to get a good education. She believes art students benefit from learning about art theory and history, as it opens their minds to different cultures. This, in turn, makes people better artists.
Langford’s paintings, with their bright colors and joyous figures, seem to radiate happiness. This is her intention, as she hopes to positively impact people’s lives with her artwork. She stated, “Where I am in my life is about trying to share with others some glimpse of light and hope and not letting [life] get you down.” This provides insight into the impact that art can have on people’s lives. Paintings and other creative works can bring positivity into the lives of people who need it.
Ellen Langford ultimately wants to serve as an example as a full-time artist to people who want to follow in her footsteps. She sets a great precedent, as her work often brightens the lives of those who view it. Additionally, she proves that great things constantly happen locally, and one must only be willing to explore Jackson to find art and inspiration.