The S.B. Questionnaire: Ellen Easton

Talking Life with Santa Barbara’s Promoter of Plein Air Artists

Ellen Easton
Paul Wellman

Ellen Easton is an amazing person.

She’s quietly championed artists in Santa Barbara for 25 years, but if you attempt to focus on her, she quickly deflects. So, yes, she’s shy, but not at all about the plein-air artists she introduces to the world, such Santa Barbara landscape masters as Bjorn Rye, Whitney Brooks Abbott, Glenna Hartmann, Arturo Tello, and Rick Schloss. To walk into her amazing gallery in Montecito is an educational experience, and she’s one of the most charming hosts and educators you’re likely to meet.

After some considerable coaxing, this patroness of the Santa Barbara arts agreed to answer the Proust Questionnaire.

What is your most marked characteristic?

A love and understanding of Santa Barbara County, from the Channel Islands to the inland valleys. Growing up in Santa Barbara, my grandfather and father instilled in me a great appreciation of the backcountry — its lore and wildlife — and beauty, while backpacking and horseback riding. These early childhood experiences are one of the reasons I later started the gallery, so I could surround myself with the natural beauty of the area.

What is your most treasured possession?

Over the years, I have gone on painting excursions with my artists to many different locations, and they have often given me a painting to remember the day by. These have become a treasured part of my art collection.

What do you like most about your job?

I love meeting new people and discussing their interests in art and working with them to find just the right painting for their home.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My children, grandchildren, and creating the Easton Gallery 25 years ago. Also, publishing Ranchos, Garden of Santa Barbara, and The Santa Clara Valley.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My life exactly as it is right now with the gallery, my husband, four children, and six grandsons (soon to be eight with twins boys due), my vegetable garden, ranch in Cuyama Valley, and all my wonderful friends and clients. I am so fortunate.

What is your greatest fear?

Being bored.

Who do you most admire?

Artist Ray Strong. He was a tremendous man in all ways and a dear friend and inspiration to many. His spirit lives on in a number of landscape artists today

What is your greatest extravagance?

My husband and I have property in the Cuyama Valley where we go for total solitude and quiet. Nothing but open space, coyotes, owls, and magnificent stars on moonless nights.

What is your current state of mind?

Very positive and hopeful there will be an upswing in the art market in the coming year

What is the quality you most like in people?

People who are passionate about what they do. And people who manage to overcome adversity.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

Excessive materialism.

What do you most value in friends?

Honesty, loyalty, warmth, and a sense of humor.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Really and special.

Which talent would you most like to have?

The talent to paint! Or the ability to play a musical instrument.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Learn to slow down and pay attention to details.

Where would you most like to live?

Right where I am in Santa Barbara.

Who makes you laugh the most?

My young grandsons.

What is your motto?

Never give up. Face challenges and don’t quit.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Probably those closest to me in my family — not historical, but very influential.

On what occasion do you lie?

To avoid hurting someone.


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