Artist Profile: Ellen Heise

Local oil painter Ellen Heise has a knack for recreating, capturing and combining her thoughts on canvas. 


She eloquently illustrates the beauty of Northern California's outdoor vibrance with her brush strokes. 

Elements of her Taiwanese heritage are also apparent in her creations. It's a harmonious union of both east and west in art and ideas, and her signature painted borders offer art lovers two images in one. 

Ellen sat down with Chico Paper Company to share insight into her artistry. 


How long have you been painting? 

I have been drawing since I was a little child, maybe 4 or 5 years old. I remember I always got into trouble from drawing everywhere -- the wall, dining table and floor. However, I never really used paint until I met my private teacher the year before I moved to the U.S. about 17 years ago.

How have you developed your style over the years?

I have slowly developed and changed my style by keeping my mind open and trying different techniques by closely studying other artists.


Along with being a Chico Paper Company artist you also teach art. What do you love about the two and how has your artistic abilities helped with teaching?

I never thought of being an art teacher at public schools since English is not my primary language, but luckily my background as a professional artist and experience as an English teacher in Taiwan make me who I am now; an art teacher who also paints as a professional artist. 

I love teaching art to the children and help them to find their special ability in art. I am often surprised by my students, especially the younger ones. I love the energy and passion from my students and love to see the smile and positive environment when they are working on any art projects I bring to them. My training as a professional artist at Chico State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree does play an important role and useful tool in my teaching career.

Do you have any pre-painting rituals?

I love painting in the morning after my coffee. I love to go through all the photos I took during visits with nature to settle my thoughts and clear my ideas and then I will sit with my blank canvas for a few minutes which I call "talking to my canvas." Normally, my idea and picture of what I want to paint will come to me.

What inspires you?

Nature and colors are the two main inspirations to my creation. I think God made me a recorder of nature in this human form. I get very excited when I am in the natural environment just like a little kid goes to a candy shop.

What is it about painting that you love?

I always tell my students being an artist is the most lucky thing in my life because I can document the existing nature with my brush and paints. Being an artist helps me see things in deeper layers and details; also it helps me cherish what we have. Now my teaching job gives me the chance to spread what I think are important messages to the younger generation and to share my inspiration to those who have the same passion.