Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Hello, internet.  My name is Sharon and I’m the mother of a 13 year old artist named Ellie.  I would love it if Ellie would share her own story here, and in a way she is by way of the art I’m going to share with you today.  Autism has made communication difficult for Ellie, but it hasn’t stopped her from growing into a fine young artist.

Ellie was born in the year 2000, on the forefront of the millennial generation.  Autism was whispered about here and there, but it wasn’t quite a “thing” yet.  A lot of my parenting of her has been like playing “Blind Man’s Bluff”, fumbling around in the dark.  I am most definitely making this up as I go along.

We started noticing Ellie’s artistic leanings at a very young age, I would say at two or three.  We would find things like this around the house:

found art

Her grasp of layout and color was kind of astonishing for such a wee one.  She mastered computers, like most of you young folks, at an early age.  She started to draw digitally using MS paint, which was a pretty rudimentary program, but she used it to its full capabilities.  Here’s a few early drawings of hers using MS Paint:

FishWindy Day

I apologize for the bit marking, like I said the program had its limits, and the images are old.  But you can see her talent for design and remarkable storytelling abilities and humor from a little girl who appeared in person to be completely shut off from the world.  We were starting to realize that there was a rich life inside her head, and this was her way of sharing it.  You can’t see it in this small version, but the chicken in the image on the right is holding a net, and inside that net is a fish.  It is tiny.  That was our first glimpse of her miniatures, which are now a bit of a signature of hers.

Later, I found a paint program that was superior to MS Paint, but still accessible to Ellie.  Her skills grew and grew:

Cheeky Monkey
That’s a chupacabra on his t-shirt, by the way. I call this one, “Hipster Monkey”.

Next came stop motion animation.  I won’t post it here, but if you are interested in seeing her stop motion animation and later claymation, Ellie’s website is http://www.elliecastellanos.com.

Her latest work is clay.  Plastiline clay is her world right now.  I’m considering investing in Sculpey, because I’m sure stock has increased since Ellie starting binging on clay.

Keep in mind, Ellie is totally self-trained.  She makes it look so easy, but I’ve tried to sculpt along with her, and my stuff looks like a drunk toddler made it.  (This is not an endorsement of infant drinking, just trying to be descriptive)

Here’s just a few.  She’s done HUNDREDS of these, each one totally unique:

Baby Bird

I look forward to Ellie going to Westwood next year.  It is my dearest hope that she can find a few student mentors there, patient, curious young people who can help Ellie develop her talent even further.

Thank you so much to Vian for her kind guest blogger platform; I’m deeply touched by the invitation.  Please visit Ellie’s website to see more of Ellie’s art and follow my blog, if you like!

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