Ellen Moseley-May is an artist at heart but a gymnastics coach by trade. She bought her first gym mat and started her business in her mom's carport in 1988 with $350 of her high school graduation money. Many gym mats later, she now has a 10,000 sq ft Olympic Training facility that she absolutely loves. Her work is life changing, but after almost 30 years she is now pursuing a career with her art. Her daughter has taken over as CEO of the training facility and they are currently working on rebranding.
1. You've always been an artist at heart but have spent most of your life in the fitness industry. Did you find it challenging to balance both of those worlds?
I think most health and wellness professionals like myself understand the importance of having a balance of work and creativity for overall health. As a gymnastics coach I always tried to bring my creative side into my coaching with fun props that I made or setting up my class with colorful mats and cones and even painted animals and things that allowed me to create and work all in one. Of course, going from the gym environment of chaos and noise filled with lots of people to a studio with just me and my thoughts has been a bit of a transition for sure. I tend to paint standing up and dancing around with my music. I’ve never really been one to sit still for very long and I think my mixed media art reflects a lot of my chaotic life.
2. Did you learn anything from the fitness industry that was transferable to your art?
Yes, definitely. Like I said before, it’s a chaotic world when you are teaching children how to flip and tumble as young as 18 months old so I think for me the patience I’ve developed over the years with that has helped me to be patient with myself during times that I may not be feeling so creative. I am able to remind myself that tumbling doesn't come in a day and some of the time my art pieces will be set aside for weeks before I get back to completing them. If I’m not feeling a piece I just set it aside and start on something that I feel works for the time being and give myself the time I need to really put everything into the piece before I finish it. That patience also comes in when I’m waiting on my resin pieces to cure. Ugghhh…waiting is so hard because I am so results oriented and I want it to be done so I can see it but one layer of resin takes 48 to 72 hours to totally cure so my pieces that are three or four layers of resin really force me to find my patience and allow myself to enjoy the process instead of just the result, much like the journey of gymnastics where the process is sometimes more important than the actual skill itself.
3. Do you believe that it's necessary to have a formal education to be an artist?
I believe art is a state of being not necessarily a skill. I don’t think there is a right way or wrong way to create and I certainly know that good or bad art is only someone’s opinion and not fact. Many people don’t like my art. I’m fine with that. I create because it is how I express myself and if someone likes it then great, but if they don’t it won’t stop me from creating it. I am jealous sometimes of those artists out there that can do amazingly detailed portraits and landscapes that are so realistic that you think it’s a photograph. I mean the talent it takes to do that makes me look like a kindergarten art student, but nonetheless I don’t feel like I need a formal art education to do what I do and to do it well and with passion. I think passion really makes the art work.
4. What's been the most rewarding part of your artistic career so far?
Honestly, getting my online gallery up and running was huge for me. I’ve been doing art shows and live events for a while now, but to finally have the ability to have fine art reproductions and offer my limited edition prints online and, of course, some of my originals too has been exciting. I even have a wall preview on my site where you can pick your size and even customize the room setting and wall color to see what the piece will look like on the wall. I’m currently working on adding a live preview that works on your phone to project my pieces directly onto your wall in your home or office to be able to see exactly what it will look like in the space you intend to put it. So for me I’m focused on that right now and it’s been an extremely rewarding and educational process. I love learning and growing so it’s definitely been a highlight for me to be able to get my gallery up.
5. A lot of your artwork is travel inspired. Is there anywhere you'd like to go that you haven't been as yet?
Yes!! I want to see the Northern Lights in Alaska. I have a liquid resin piece that is actually called “Northern Lights” but it’s only what I imagine. My husband and I travel a ton in our motor home and many of my pieces are done on the road so I am hoping that we will make it one of these days to see the lights for myself. It’s definitely on my bucket list for sure.
Time Lapse of Northern Lights
6. Besides travel, who or what inspires you?
I am a huge Romero Britto fan from an artist standpoint. I love his style and the bright colors he uses in all his art so he is for sure someone I draw inspiration from. I also love the beach so anytime I get to travel to a beach I get inspired and I tend to create a lot of my art while I am in the salt and sand for sure. There is just something about the negative ions in the air that brings out my muse. I do also draw inspiration from my kids at the gym. They work so hard every day to be the best they can be and their struggles have inspired so many pieces of mine. One of my favorite pieces, “Moments” was inspired by a particularly talented gymnast I teach that just busts her butt 6 hours everyday in the gym and I have watched her struggle and grow from those struggles and she reminds me how it’s just about taking things one day at a time no matter what, and if today doesn’t work then we always have tomorrow so my kids definitely inspire me to create art that brings out a feeling of pushing through when life gets tough.
7. What's your dream art project?
I don’t know that I’ve really every thought about it. I mean anytime I’m painting I’m overwhelmed with happiness and joy because I just love to do it, but if I had to say a dream project I am not sure I could put my finger on that. I mean if I wanted to really throw it out there it would be to paint the Northern Lights as I am actually sitting in the presence of their beauty. God paints the most beautiful art ever so to witness that and be able to create art in the midst of his amazing work would be such an overwhelming feeling I think.
8. What's the best art related advice you've ever been given?
The best advice I have ever received was from a older friend of mine who is a pretty successful artist and he told me to just paint from my heart. Don’t worry about who will buy it or who will like it but just make it my own from my experiences and from my head and then just give it away. Give your art to anyone who wants it and share it with the world because eventually it will get into the hands of someone who can help you make it a career. And so that’s what I do. I don’t really do too many commissioned pieces because it limits me too much to what someone else wants instead of allowing me to create from my passion and heart. I mean I have done some commissioned pieces but I learned early on that those are work, and I struggle with feeling that my art is work. It’s really just a passion. So I just paint and share my art. Oddly enough, that tactic of just sharing it and giving it away to charities and auctions for charity did work and one of my pieces was seen by someone who knew someone else who helped me find the right people to help me get my online art gallery up and going. So it was really good advice.
9. What advice do you have for aspiring artists or creatives?
You do you. Don’t try to copy other people. I mean it’s OK to draw inspiration from those you admire, but ultimately art is only going to speak to people if it is done from a place of personal passion. Don’t be afraid that people won’t like your work. Who cares if they don’t. It’s not about them anyway. It’s about loving what you do and expressing who you are as an artist and sharing that with the people that do like your work. Everyone has haters but letting those people define your opinion of your art is not going to help you grow as an artist. Believe in who you are and your unique style and talent and express it and share it with everyone you can. Those that don’t like it can just move over because you don’t have time for that. You will be busy moving on to the next person who does love you as an artist. So be you. Do you.
10. What's next for you?
I am currently in the process of creating some online courses for art journaling and mixed media painting. They are designed to help anyone be creative. For so many years I told myself I couldn’t be an artist because I didn’t have the training. That I was a coach and that was it for me, but in the back of my mind I had this desire to be creative so I wanted to create a course to show the average person that anyone can create. Anyone can be an artist and anyone can use art as an outlet to express yourself, whether it be in a private journal setting used just for healing and health or as a side hustle to maybe help with extra income or maybe even a full time career. I want to be able to show the world that we are all creative in one way or another and to express that is one of the best ways to add to your health and wellness. As a nutritionist and exercise physiologist for the past 33 years, I am still passionate about helping others achieve their individually designed life that is a balance of food, exercise, spirituality, freedom of expression and family and friends. So I am hoping through this to build a tribe of normal, everyday people that share and express themselves through art.