Jill Ehlert is an artist based in Cobble Hill, BC, Canada. Her creative practice spans 35 years with specific emphasis on the creation of experimental works by combining mixed media, drawing and collage. Nature, organic forms and cellular structures inspire her work.
'I consider myself a process artist; research, collecting, observing and experimentation support and inform my work. Drawing is the touchstone of my art practice and involves extensive explorations of mark making in a wide variety of mediums and creative application techniques.
Inspired by “Intertidal Ecosystems”, I explore ideas of growth and deterioration, strength and fragility, beauty and the grotesque. I create abstract mixed media collages based on these concepts, layered with my imagination and perceptions of this foreshore region. I manipulate paper through unconventional methods such as burning, smoking and piercing holes. These processes yield results that echo the shapes and patterns I discover and observe in this marine environment. My work is built up in collaged layers creating a sense of textured density.'
I was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1952. Both my parents painted as a hobby. When I was 6 years old, Dad attended painting classes at night - his painting studio was outfitted in a small room adjacent to my bedroom. Dad would come home late after his painting class, tip toe to his small but just big enough workspace. I could see the light seeping through the top and sides of his door and could hear the whoosh and swish of his brush on the canvas. I remember thinking painting was mysterious, special and important. Dad painted for a few years but photography was his real love. He eventually had his own dark room and studio.
When I was 11, we moved to a larger home where Mom's painting studio was on the 3rd floor. Mom attended local painting classes at the “Alberta College of Art” and summer programs at the “Banff School of Fine Arts”. I remember posing for Mom, painting with her and the wonderful smell of oil paints. I remember her delight over a new line of paints — they were fast drying and could be mixed and cleaned up with water— this was the early 60's and "acrylic paint" was fairly new to the artist's market.
My earliest art materials were “Grumbacher” oil pastels. I would draw for hours creating fantastical flower pictures - my favourite colour combinations were pinks, orange and deep yellows. I adored and still remember my grade 5 art teacher, Miss Westmancoat with her piled up black beehive and thick black eyeliner.
In my teenage years a Henry Moore sculpture exhibition had a great impact, today his drawings still influence my own. My first sculptures were fabricated in the lab of my Dad's dental office, made from plaster and I melted wax using his bunsen burner.
In my early 20’s, I owned and operated "Coulee Winds Gallery" an art gallery and framing store in Lethbridge, Alberta. I took photography and Art History at the University of Lethbridge; stained glass and watercolour at the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute.
In my early 30’s, I began my formal art education. I attended the University of Lethbridge and the University of Victoria, taking "History in Art". I graduated from the Ottawa School of Art in 1988 and the Victoria College of Art in 1992. More recently, I have taken contemporary drawing classes and a Directed Studio with Wendy Welch at the Vancouver Island School of Art.
I served on the following boards: Bowman Arts Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta; Gallery 101, Ottawa, Ontario and Open Space Gallery, Victoria BC. I am a past member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. Over the years, I have taught in my studio, for various art groups on Vancouver Island and at the Vancouver Island School of Art in Victoria, BC.