My collection of Vic Ellis' paintings

and when I met him

Note:- Vic Ellis was a dental technician on Canvey Island and was given drawing and painting lessons by Harry Russell.

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My father and I took up painting, very much as amateurs, in the mid 1960s, when he retired and joined me in Southampton. My father became a competent portraitist, but I was more interested in landscapes. However, we were both amateur yachtsmen and enjoyed marine paintings, and used to make trips to London together to the exhibitions of the Royal Society of Marine Artists – held I, seem to remember, in the Guildhall. It was there that we first came across the work of Vic Ellis.

I was very impressed by his work and bought a small painting. I obtained his address and, a few months later, made a visit to his home, where I met his wife, Bunty, and bought more paintings.

Cowes Ferry by Vic Ellis

I suggested that he might like to experience something of sailing on the South Coast, – very different from the East Coast – and I invited him to to spend a few days in my holiday cottage in Cowes in August 1969. We did some day’s sailing trips in my small cabin cruising yacht, but stayed within the Solent. Whilst with us, Vic set up his easel in the back yard of my cottage, and one of my photos is of Vic painting an impression of the Red Funnel ferry crossing from Southampton to Cowes. This he gave me, and it is one of those I include on this page.

Vic Ellis painting ‘the Cowes Ferry’, August 1969

At the time I was chairman of the Southampton Art Society, where from time to time we had artists visit us to give demonstrations. I suggested to Vic that he might like to do this for us, and he readily agreed and came down again in the late autumn of 69, staying in my house. He was much appreciated by the considerable turnout of members and guests we had on that occasion. I think, although I am not sure, that he exhibited a couple of works in our Southampton Society’s annual exhibition, called ‘Painters Progress’, at the City Art Gallery in the following year.

One of my paintings simply to show Vic’s strong influence on my marine painting

In all, I have seven of his paintings, including the ‘oil sketch’ he did as a demonstration, plus a photo of him painting in Cowes. Vic explained to me how he obtained his ‘sea effects’ by a minimal mixing of the remaining colours on his pallet and putting the result on the canvass with a pallet knife. I found this very instructive and, although I could never reach his standard of work, it did enable me to improve my attempts at marine subjects. I have included one of my efforts, but only to show Vic’s influence.

I should love to know whether there is a ‘collection’ of his work anywhere.

Comments about this page

  • Thank you Peter for this interesting addition to our Art section and for a unique insight into some of Vic Ellis’s technique and the photo of the artist at work.

    By Graham Stevens (16/07/2011)
  • My employer in Guernsey has seven or eight of Vic’s paintings, he commisioned two or three of them directly from him in the late seventies. I believe he went to see him in Leigh on sea after his wife bought him his first one. I may add descriptions if that’s ok with my boss

    By Mike Lumb (06/10/2011)
  • The two barges in the foreground are; in front, the Marjorie, blt 1902, is currently still sailing and based on the R. Medway at Hoo in Kent; the other recognisable barge is the Westmoreland, she is currently on a floating dock awiting the completion of a rebuild: she is the last of her kind – a brick barge owned from her build in 1900 at Conyer by Eastwood Brick Co Ltd and then by the Thames Barge Sailing Club from 1963 to when they sank her in 1973 in an accident! She needs to be rebuilt… The blue bob (flag) of the pictures era would qualify the thirs barges name – any knowledge of year? Nick Ardley http://www.nickardley.com

    By Nick Ardley (09/12/2011)
  • I had the pleasure of meeting Vic Ellis back in 1976 while on a boat with a friend of his I was visiting back then who was from Leigh on Sea. We were in Maldon at the Old Gaffer’s Boat Race in July. I have a great photo of Vic if you would like a copy of it with boats in background in the race. I also have pics of some of these old barges racing which were subjects of many of his paintings. I would love to purchase one of his paintings …do you know of any gallery or shop that would have any for sale (would prefer a painting of one of these old barges but any would do). Thanks…let me know if you would like the picture would be happy to send it to you. Sincerely, Deb from Ohio, USA

    By Deb (19/03/2012)
  • My father knew Vic and when he took up painting was inspired by him.We lived in rayleigh,I have so many of my fathers paintings (mainly seascapes)died aged 52 in 1981. I also have one by Vic showing a barge.

    By Anthony Martin (27/10/2012)
  • I lived at number 9 the gardens as a child. Vic Ellis lived at the end of the row past Mrs Fickling and Mary Coleman and her sons. I used to run up and down the gardens and everyone  would give me a drink on a hot day or let me join in at there table. We were very much a community. Vic Ellis painted me several times as I was a well known person at the cockle sheds along the jetty on the beach or out on the estuary usually in someone else’s boat. I had the most idyllic child hood. I have three Vic Ellis paintings that he gave to my mum. They remind me of my happy child hood in Leigh on sea. I’ll always remember Vic as he was a giant of a man and he and his wife were always very kind. He used to call me the urchin. 

    By Frances lea (05/03/2015)
  • I have a beautiful Vic Ellis oil of a Thames sailing barge with the docks superbly shrouded in mist as a background. I’ll post an image of it shortly — together with the name of the vessel. 

    By David White (30/10/2015)
  • Southend’s Civic Art Gallery, the Beecroft, is going to honour local artist Vic Ellis with his first ever Retrospective Exhibition in 2018. If you are the proud owner of a Vic Ellis Painting and would like to loan it to Southend Borough Council Museums Services for the duration of the exhibition, please email either the Beecroft Gallery on: KevinMarsh@southend.gov.uk or contact the exhibition curator: david_hurrell@btinternet.com (01702) 552668.

    None of the paintings will be for sale and, naturally, security will be a very high priority!

    The exhibition will run from 17th April until 7th July 2018. Your earliest contact would be appreciated.

    By David Hurrell (16/10/2017)

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