All posts by Ellie Honl

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ellie Honl: Part II

Hello, my name is Ellie Honl and for this second post, I would like to share a little more about my creative process with you.

I first want to give you a glimpse at my creative process by using a diagram I recently created.  I feel like there are unlimited ways that one can be an artist and I want to share with you the way that I work.


Creative process by diagram: to be read from top to bottom

I always start by observing the environment around me whether I am actively or passively taking part in it. After looking over the art I have made from the last ten years, I recently discovered that I have always been inspired by wonder, and my curiosity about the unknown. That sense of wonder has come from the natural world as well as the human constructed. I do some research about the thing that has inspired me and then I jump into experimenting and playing with process. I evaluate these outcomes and continue experimenting. Why “experiment” instead of “make art?” I feel like it is much easier to be creative when there is no pressure or self judgement. I do more experimenting, then spend time researching things related to the outcomes. I assemble the pieces with this new knowledge while I try to balance opposing forces. Then I re-evaluate and continue creating.

So what is wonder? It is the zone between the known and unknown. It is the child-like sense of awe and amazement. It could also be the sublime, horrific, and grotesque. It is the rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience.

Over the past seven years, here are some images of things that have inspired wonder in me, and which I have included in my artwork:

A swarm of starling birds

A swarm of starling birds

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 12.27.17 PM

Colorful mold

Wardian Cases from the Victorian era.

Wardian Cases from the Victorian era.

Naturally occurring, geometric minerals.

Naturally occurring, geometric minerals.

The Maunsell Sea Forts, England.

The Maunsell Sea Forts, England.

The mediums I use to create my artwork are primarily printmaking with the addition of photography, and time-based media (video).

Printmaking is the transference of an image from a matrix (wood block, copper plate, silkscreen) by use of pressure onto another substrate – usually a piece of paper. I love printmaking because of its unique look and its ability to work well with other mediums. Because the original image (matrix) is not destroyed, it allows me to experiment more and to create a lot of variations.

I’m currently using photography in my work in the form of the alternative process technique called cyanotype. I love the moody blues it produces and it is extremely quick and easy. I’ve been making photograms with it by laying objects on top of the paper I’ve coated with the solution then placing it in the sun to expose.

"Coming Together" was created by exposing gravel and bark to the cyanotype-coated paper.

“Coming Together” was created by exposing gravel and bark to the cyanotype-coated paper.

I use stop-motion animation to compliment the whimsical, quirky feel of the prints and to bring their narrative to life. I like that the medium is appealing and more accessible to people. The process is very time-consuming, but the results are like magic!

A setup of my stop-motion workspace.

A setup of my stop-motion workspace.

That is a quick synopsis of my creative process as well as an explanation of the techniques I use to create my artwork. For more images of my artwork and explanations about them, check out my website at  Thanks for following and make sure to check out the show Structurally Speaking.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ellie Honl: Part I

_MG_7924My name is Ellie Honl and I am currently an art professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. I am originally from Stevens Point, a city of about 35,000 in Central Wisconsin. My mother is an art teacher so I was very fortunate to have early exposure to the arts. I had an endless supply of art materials, and my mom took my younger brother and I to a lot of art museums growing up. We lived in an area where there weren’t many other children, so my brother and I spent a lot of time entertaining ourselves by building forts in the forest behind our house, Lego cities, and elaborate canal systems in our sandbox. I also taught myself things like calligraphy and needlepoint. This history of exploration and independence contributes to my art making today.


I thought about being an artist as a child, but in high school I loved math and science, and planned to become a psychiatrist or architect. It wasn’t until my junior year at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota that I finally decided to pursue studio art. Even though I liked a lot of different subjects, art was the one that fulfilled me the most and satisfied my need to create. The subject of psychology and architectural elements play a major role in my artwork today.

I pursued printmaking at the University of Iowa and received my MFA in 2008. Since then, I have taught art at a number of Universities and art centers across the country while continuing to make my own artwork.

This is me screenprinting in the printshop at Indiana University.

This is me screenprinting in the classroom at Indiana University.

My artwork utilizes printmaking techniques along with photographic and time-based media. I’ve currently been making screenprints and cyanotypes that I incorporate together by sewing, and I often paint and add other collaged elements to them. I also make stop-motion animations with these prints and/or parts of these prints.

"Assemble," cyanotype, screenprint, sewing, collage, 2013

“Assemble,” cyanotype, screenprint, sewing, collage, 2013

"Take Root" (detail), cyanotype, screenprint, sewing, 2013

“Take Root” (detail), cyanotype, screenprint, sewing, 2013

I am inspired by the wonders I observe around me (often in nature) but the outcome of my artwork is usually about the human condition: how we cope, how we perceive, and how we are affected by our past. It is about the human desire to find stability. Through my artwork, I try to understand why things are the way they are and strive to find logic in the random. I work intuitively allowing myself to experiment with unpredictable processes to discover new marks and imagery. Many times these initial investigations look chaotic and they provide a problem for me to resolve. I impose order through geometric forms and color, while making connections through lines, written explanations, and collage elements. My work is often detailed and visually appealing, and I hope that it draws people in and causes them to enjoy the process of looking.

"Becoming," cyanotype, gouache, colored pencil,   2014

“Becoming,” cyanotype, gouache, colored pencil, 24″x30″ 2014

"Westminster Ct.: Appearances Can be Deceiving," silkscreen and colored pencil on layers of frosted mylar, 20"x30" 2014

“Westminster Ct.: Appearances Can be Deceiving,” silkscreen and colored pencil on layers of frosted mylar, 20″x30″ 2014

Check back later in the week to read about Ellie’s creative process in Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ellie Honl: Part II.

You can see more of Ellie’s artwork on her website at Stop by to see three of her pieces (including one honorable mention!) in our current juried exhibition, Structurally Speaking.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by architectural painter Susan Stuart.