Ken’s involvement in the art business has now spanned over 30
years. He began as a picture framer, then worked alongside a
restorer, became an art dealer, and about 20 years ago, began to
draw and paint. In his career, Ken says: “I’ve been fortunate to
have seen remarkably good works of art and met some of the best
painters in the field.”
No “slouch” in the art world himself, Ken comments: “When I’m
making an artwork, it takes a bit of nerve to start a big white
canvas or a blank printing plate and make a picture. There is
anxiety in the air. I’ve learned that mistakes are part of the
creative process and some of the missteps become a part of the
emerging image. Once they are eliminated, more delicious ones
are incorporated into the process as unintended surprises!”
Ken, who has been described by many as having a “heart of gold,”
has done his part to enrich and inspire our world in countless
ways. With his luminating landscapes, Ken’s art is like a breath
of fresh air; and his generosity of giving his beautiful works
of art to non-profits for their auctions has brought joy to the
highest bidder, and in turn benefited numerous charitable
Always researching new oils, pastels, and experimenting with
different methods, Ken Elliott understands that life is indeed a
learning game. Ken in his ultimate wisdom reflects: “When you
run out of variations to an idea, you go back to nature and
there - all the ideas and colors for a lifetime are always
waiting for you.”
How do you think the Denver Art Scene has changed through the
I was fortunate to have been involved in the first planning
meetings for the
Denver Art Dealers Association and I've been their webmaster
since the organization's inception. DADA has provided a big
boost for the local art scene as well as the growing strength of
Denver's museums. Denver’s art continues to grow in quality and
What nonprofit organizations are you involved with at this time?
I am the webmaster for Metro Denver Partners, Cancer League of
Colorado, Denver Art Dealers Association and Castle Pines
Village. I'm on the Board of Douglas County Partners, Cancer
League of Colorado, and “HeartLight,” an organization providing
support and training to those in grief. I'm also a volunteer
with Denver Hospice.
You have donated a lot of the artwork you do to charities. Which
ones have you donated to and why?
Why say no to good causes? When I decided to make giclee
reproductions of my work, it was to multiply myself on a
national basis and to have a way to donate limited edition
prints to more charities. I’ve donated to Cancer League of
Colorado, Denver and Porter Hospices, Sungate Kids, Metro Denver
and Douglas County Partners, Littleton Academy, Church World
Service, Kempe Foundation, and others.
What style do you consider your work to be?
Impressionist would be the best description. I'm working with
bright and unusual color palettes to produce landscapes that are
not realistic portraits. I find that the more canvases I do, the
colors become more intriguing and the style more abstract. It is
never a dull day in the studio!
What special techniques do you use in your work?
I try to work smart. I have studied with and continue dialogues
with the best in the field. They have given me enough
information for a lifetime of work. My primary technique is to
be fully aware and do whatever is necessary to produce a solid
work of art. In that regard, some days in the studio are more
special than others. Picasso said, "I steal," so I used that as
a technique also- it worked nicely for him.
Do you have to be in a certain "creative" mood to create your
I live creatively all the time, so the suspense of something
about to be revealed is always in the air. We are all creative.
I strongly feel that mothers running families and individuals
running businesses are some of the most creative people around.
If I have a piece of artwork that flops, I can throw it away and
start again. The stakes are much higher when mistakes are made
within families or in businesses.
Where can people see your art pieces?
Fortunately, my work is been picked up by poster companies and
my limited-edition prints are distributed coast-to-coast. A
print or poster sells practically every day but I rarely know
where they go. I also have galleries that sell my original works
in a number of states: Colorado, California, Connecticut, New
York, Wisconsin, Texas, and Michigan. The easiest place to see
all my work is on my website,
Is there a book you have read that really inspired you that you
can recommend to others?
In my personal life, I'm inspired by many different things so I
can't say there's any one book but "The Ascent of Man" by
Bronowski comes close. As an artist, I'm continually looking at
works (an inspiring collection of images is scrolling on the
side of my computer now.) I have a big art library full of
masterful images. Since my paintings are moving in this
direction, the artists with the brighter colors and more
abstracted forms inspire me the most. Oh, and Marx…Groucho.
Who is the most interesting person you have ever met?
There are those I love and have loved me back…they go beyond
interesting. In the arts, the people that set me on "fire." The
photographer, Duane Michaels, who caught fire creatively after
doing a photo shoot for two weeks with Renee Magritte. The other
was an artist friend and intensely creative individual in
Houston, Charles Schorre. We would be chatting in his studio for
15 minutes and Charles would say, "Ken I love talking to you,
but I've got to paint." He was an unstoppable creative force and
he made art out of everything. He was an amazing person to be
around even if you only got your 15 minutes.
What do you consider a priceless gift?
Love and Health.
How do you develop an idea for a painting - what inspires you?
The eye and the mind work together to inspire. It might be the
light on a ridge line, something in the magazine, a color
combination at the toy store- anything that makes the mind pause
and wonder. I have a number of motifs: trees, clouds, meadows
and lakes. So if something dramatic gets my attention, I will
often use it in an existing series. I'm not interested in
painting that cherry red Chevrolet, but I did make a successful
pastel called "Cherry Red Trees." I’m starting to do collage
again. With just strips of colored paper and some paint, you can
make “somethings” out of nothing. I love that!
Which of your paintings was the most challenging one for you,
Typically I have 30-40 canvases started in the studio. They are
all misbehaving or they would be finished by now. The new
canvases I start this week add more problems to solve. The
challenge to make better paintings never stops. By the way, if
you REALLY like the thing you made last Tuesday when you see it
a week later, you may be dead as a real artist.
When in your life did you realize you had artistic talent?
My earliest memory is looking at a snow painting hanging my
grandmother's house when I was two. My most vivid memories in
kindergarten were of making drawings of a locomotive and a semi
trailer truck. At six, when I drew the Battle of San Jacinto
onto the three walls surrounding my bunk bed, my mother
pronounced me artistic. It's my view that only mothers can claim
their children have artistic talent. I'm not convinced there has
ever been an artistic prodigy. Brain wiring commonly allows
prodigies in math and music but not in much else. We might have
an aptitude for art, medicine or indoor plumbing, but you have
to put in innumerable hours just to be average.
What is a moment in your life you will never forget?
I have been fortunate because there are too many marvelous
moments. I've been enchanted by nature, faraway places and
important events, but wonderful people are the best. I have been
allowed to travel to the "other side" on occasion. I have met my
so-called deceased mother and father, someone I helped in
Hospice, and an author six months prior to meeting him here in
the physical. Those other-worldly occurrences were very real,
inspiring and unforgettable.
What other hobbies or interests does a talented man such as you
There is that talent word again. I occasionally teach and mentor
other artists. I've also become fairly adept with computers so
I've shared those skills, creating lot of websites, book and CD
covers, innumerable flyers, brochures and some light media
promo. Website creation allows me entrée into numerous
businesses and organizations.
What artist do you admire the most?
I admire all the artists that try and all the ones that last. I
can't provide a single artist name, but I prefer the deceased
masters Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pierre
Bonnard and Richard Diebenkorn. Among the living masters I
admire that have also helped and mentored me are Wolf Kahn and
What is the best advice another artist ever gave you?
There are two: "Now that you know how to draw, it doesn't mean
you can make art.” + “Be outrageous."
What is one of your favorite places in the world?
Paris on the Île de la Cité, there is a deconsecrated church
that is now surrounded by the iron gates of the Ministry of
Defense, Sainte-Chapelle (French for The Holy Chapel) is a
Gothic chapel in the heart of old Paris. Some say it represents
the peak of Gothic architecture. Louis IX "spent France" to
purchase the Crown of Thorns that he housed here (now in Notre
Dame Cathedral.) I believe Sainte-Chapelle has the tallest
stained-glass windows in Europe. In the evening, the classical
concerts are not to be missed. I'm also very fond of being at
What is your fondest childhood memory?
My sixth birthday. That was the big one. All my friends were
there and we never ran out of Chocolate cake and ice cream. It
was like everyone was having a birthday. All the kids ran around
screaming and laughing. I got the elaborate, two-story, made in
Japan service station set. I have an elaborate Japanese car now
and I still eat a lot of Chocolate cake and ice cream. Some
things never change and Chocolate is capitalized on purpose.
I’ve got a 6-0 coming in a couple of years…I’m looking forward
to that one too.
What is something your parents taught you that you have never
By her example, my mother taught me to be helpful and kind. My
father taught me to be strong and to laugh. Dad said, "Learn
some trades." I've learned quite a few and it has helped me get
a job anywhere anytime. Thanks Mom, thanks Dad.
Do you have a quote or saying that has helped guide you through
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto do you." And,
attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “An eye for an eye makes the whole
How do we get our young people interested in charitable work and
giving back to the community?
Expose them to doing a small thing and when they are thanked so
very deeply, they may understand.
Where is your focus these days; and what’s up in the future for
the talented Ken Elliott?
I'm focusing on my expanding art career - there is no limit to
what you can do and where you can go. But the rest of the time,
I'm working to magnify the amount of good I can help put into
the world through charity work locally and hopefully on a global
with some simple ideas. I’m taking more time to look out the
window and do nothing as well.
How would you like to be remembered by future generations?
I say, “Want to move a mountain? Get a bunch of ants.” Well, if
I'm remembered at all, how about, "He was a good ant."
Articles written about Ken Elliott - and other “Ken” info:
US Art Magazine,
March 2002; “Colorado artist, Ken Elliott's giclee print 'Cherry
Red Trees', has been selected as one of the 50 best images of
The Pastel Journal,
May-June 2002 issues; Ken Elliott - “Giclee print becomes part
of the painting process…”
New York Times, “On the Web: Wine Today”,
December 26, 2000, by Kathleen Buckley: “American artist
Ken Elliott makes striking abstract collages using pastels, oils
& the foil from the Champagne bottle."
Ken’s art has been included in two new books: “The Artful
Home” by Toni Sikes - and “The Fine Art of Wall Design” by
Ken’s works have been reproduced as posters by “Poems
Ken's monotypes have been included in the “Open Press 15 Year
Retrospective,” U. of Colorado Contemporary Arts Center,