For The Mill resident and watercolour artist Eleanor Green, a childhood passion for sketching animals has morphed into a richly textured arts practice, and an adaptive small business which doesn't exacerbate her health condition.
Introducing pet portraiture artist Eleanor Green
Eleanor’s immaculately naturalistic renderings of all creatures great and small are not the product of extensive formal training, but rather the consequence of a lifetime of diligent self-directed observation, of trial and error.
“When I was very little, two or three, I loved cats, dogs and horses, so I was always drawing,” she says.
“Obviously, I wasn’t very good. When you’re around animals a lot, you start to understand their anatomy and how they move, and I think once you understand that, it makes your drawings so much more accurate.”
Influenced both by a high school art and design teacher who encouraged her to pursue her craft, and a semester of study at AC Arts, Eleanor now takes inspiration from the communities she has built on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. The works she creates make physical her introspections of the natural world.
Although she decided a tertiary visual arts degree was not for her, Eleanor is no less determined to make a career as an artist.
“I already knew that watercolours and doing animals in particular was something that I wanted to specialise in,” she says.
“And when you do an art degree, it’s very general, where you study all mediums and cover all things, and I was in class feeling like I could spend my time better.”
Transforming a private passion into formalised study also detracted from one of the functions painting has performed in Eleanor’s life – coping with Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS), an invisible and intermittently disabling condition she developed during her final year of high school.
“I think painting for me was always a way of winding down and getting into that flow state where I was able to fully relax,” she says.
“[It helps with CPS because] there’s no screens and it’s very slow and quiet and it’s something that I can get absorbed in for a few hours, which is a good way to distract from the pain.”
Since establishing Illustrations by Eleanor as a part-time enterprise, Eleanor has steadily attracted a client base of feline, canine and equine adoring owners.
While many of her clients opt for traditionally commissioned portraits, she has also started speed painting animals within 45 minutes at Blackwood Craft and Magill Sunrise markets as a means of broadening her customer base.
Her work has traditionally emphasised realism, but she has found that the time constraints imposed by speed painting has led to the introduction of modernist elements.
James Murphy is writer-in-residence at The Mill.
This article was published in partnership with The Mill as part of its writer-in-residence program.
For more information on the program, see here.
From Friday, 4 September, Eleanor will display her work at The Mill in the Pets of The Mill showcase, featuring portraits of the fur babies owned by her co-residents at the Angas Street creative hub.
“[For] my first show at The Mill, I wanted it to involve not just me but the space that I’m in because it’s celebrating, in a way, being a part of this space,” she says.
“As an artist, you are quite solitary and I never wanted to be stuck at home in a room. It’s great being a part at The Mill because it’s so collaborative.”
As well as continuing to explore collaborations with The Mill’s menagerie of artists and craftspeople, Eleanor hopes to eventually pass on her artistic methods to others.
Keep up to date with upcoming shows at The Mill here.