Some people see art and craft as nice hobbies; but for Elliott Jordan they are his life’s calling. He’s studied everything from modern art to the vintage African crafts that fill his Cincinnati, Ohio gallery. He creates, teaches; and if you get to know him you are certain to pick up these few lessons.
Remember Your Creative Spark
As an artist or crafter you can pinpoint the circumstances that opened your eyes to a creative path. Ask Elliott about his inspiration and he’ll talk about his grandfather in Cartersville, Virginia. With red clay in his yard as a foundation, he merged painted cement, bike reflectors and marbles into the art Elliott remembers as “red and white.”
Decades later you can feel that creative spark in Elliot’s renderings of grand old relatives. You can see his grandfather’s yard art in the red-painted faces of his Jazz musicians series.
Education is Where You Find It
Elliott was an artist in the making when he enrolled at Murray State in Kentucky. He earned a BA in Art in 1971 and later attended the University of Kentucky to earn a Masters in Art Education in 1982. His formal education speaks for itself, but so do years of “on the job training.”
As a freelance portrait artist, he honed his skills working on commissions and setting up his easel in shopping malls. His education in “African arts and crafts from around the world” began as he planned a Murray State Black Arts Festival. A gift of African art in college triggered his desire to become a collector. When a gallery customer wanted presentation awards based on a modern art statue from Ghana, Elliott designed the pieces and used his Ghana connections to find artisans in Africa to create them.
Elliott has spent a lifetime learning. He has traveled to Africa, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and other places where African origin artists offer a local spin on color and texture. He used some of these techniques to create an action portrait of Cincinnati Bengal, Chad Johnson.
Be Serious But Have Fun
Elliott’s portraits reflect a mastery of light, shadow, proportion and a subject’s exact likeness. He is equally comfortable with abstract art, using color and texture to add dimension to his canvas. He is serious about his work and has earned many awards; but he has fun as well. If pressed, he will perform the creative trick of drawing using both hands at the once
Make a Bold Statement
When cars drive by Elliott’s Gallery, heads turn for a quick glance. Many circle the block and return for an up close view of the rare masks, woven tapestries, and giant carved statues covering nearly every inch of wall and floor space. They are impressed by Elliott’s paintings and drawings, even the jewelry he makes, and also the way he combines painting, collecting and teaching in a tiny, bold space.
Pass It On
Elliott recently retired after 25 years of teaching art to Cincinnati Public School students. He has a lot more time to paint and is recreating himself as an artist, stirring up a lifetime of skills and using them in a new ways.
He has regular hours at his studio and gallery now, with plenty of time to greet interested collectors, artists, crafters and African arts dealers visiting Cincinnati with interesting pieces to sell.
Elliott Jordan no longer teaches children, but he’s passing on what he knows to the adults who come to him for painting and drawing lessons. He shares his knowledge on TV and Radio, in lectures and at Gallery gatherings where he will gladly discuss modern art, African crafts and everything in between.
Visit Elliott at his Studio and Gallery, 6113 Ridge Road in Pleasant Ridge, Cincinnati,Ohio. Or check out his website, jordanpaintsafrica.com.
Interviews and gallery visits