Steve Ellis Transforms Copper

Steve Ellis Transforms Copper

By Fran Schiavo

Illustrator, painter, sculptor, Steve Ellis traces his career back 45 years when he worked as an illustrator for the aerospace industry. But his interest in working with sculptural metals began even earlier. He gained his first commission in junior high school based on the effects he was able to get from copper. “Unfortunately,” he recalls with a smile, “I was far from mastering the processes and wasn’t able to recreate the effect I had produced earlier.”

Despite that earliest experience, his interest in copper continues to this day; he is attracted to the metal’s natural patina as well as its adaptability to added colors and textures. All of his sculptures—whether stylized human figures (the reclining woman in “Morning After”) or conceptual pieces (“Talon Falls”)—incorporate copper elements that he has hammered, heated, etched, and coiled. His works speak to his skill in bringing forth the range of forms and finishes copper can be made to reveal.

Ellis draws his inspiration from nature, calls on his illustration background, and allows his imagination to wander. Much of his work, he says, is sparked by daydreaming. The balance comes simply from asking “what if…” and taking that question into the studio. “Many times, I’ll have an idea, but, like most creative experiences, I discover other options and ideas that get incorporated into the final piece.” 

These ideas may incorporate found objects and bits of natural or manufactured items that he has collected. Sometimes, by chance, a friend or neighbor drops by his studio with a discovery—a bit of mesquite or a piece of slate—that fits perfectly into a design he is exploring. 

Ellis moved to San Miguel de Allende five years ago and has exhibited at Magenta gallery since early 2017. Stop by the gallery at Zacateros 26 to view his work Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11am-4pm. You can also contact for a private showing or studio tour. 

Magenta is Health First certified and welcomes you to explore works by artists Steve Ellis, Pat Miller, Lola Picó, Fran Schiavo, Cathy Taylor, and Fernando Pérez Vázquez. Learn more about all our artists at The gallery is also arranging virtual tours for out-of-town clients and others who are not able to visit our Centro location.