Painting with a Purpose

Ellen Kingston

​ Ellen Kingston Bio

         Growing up on the East End of Long Island, Ellen has always felt the need for a creative outlet. “I am one of five in my family and my parents were both teachers. We di​dn’t have a lot growing up, but distant relatives would occasionally send a package of hand-me downs and a few other goodies. In one such package was a Brownie camera. It was missing a corner piece which had apparently broken off. At age 10, I was thrilled to have a camera. I figured if I could just block out that hole, I could still take pictures. So I covered it with the only thing I could find, a couple of band-aids, and then, with bandaged camera in hand, I went for a walk in the woods on my first photo shoot.”

          Ellen's grandparents lived in Florida, so they exchanged letters on a regular basis. Grandpa Kingston was a talented artist in his own right and his letters were filled with colored drawings in a rebus style. It was like solving a puzzle to read his letters where painted images substituted for words. These experiences encouraged Ellen to draw and helped her develop an eye for color. Her mother, Anne, after retiring from teaching, delved into watercolor painting. She sold her work at arts shows and fairs and created works by request for individuals. “A few years ago while on a benefit house tour, I stood in one home’s beautifully decorated living room and suddenly caught my breath. There, above an overstuffed chair was one of my Mom’s watercolors.”

          After graduating from high school in Sag Harbor, Kingston went to college in Washington D.C. On her return to New York, she studied with the New York Institute of Photography and became a founding member of the East End Photography Group with then renowned photographer Jay Hoops. One of her happiest moments was to see one of her own photos gracing the front page of the Holiday issue of the Southampton Press. The photograph showed her young daughter looking totally enthralled as she watched a toy train in a holiday decorated shop window. Ellen and her young daughter moved to Florida, where she focused on raising her daughter and continuing her education to earn a Bachelors and then Masters Degree in Education. Teaching elementary and middle school as well as on the college level, left little time for photography. Once her daughter went on to college, Ellen relocated to her beloved East End.

          Teac​hing for the Center Moriches School District reignited her creative spirit and in the summer months she again turned to photography and started to toy with painting, occasionally painting side by side with her mother. She found herself drawn back to the East End Arts Center and enlisted in painting classes. Most recently, she has studied under artist, educator and curator Kenneth Jackson and renowned artist Laura Stroh.

          Over the years, Ellen has received numerous accolades and awards. In the early 1980s, she received 1st place in the Westhampton Beach Summer Art Show for photography, had a One-Woman Show at the East End Art Center and had her photographs published in the Southampton Press. She has received recognition and awards for her work which has been displayed at venues on the North Fork, in Bellport, Sachem, Southampton and in various East End shows.

          Ms. Kingston also has a keen interest in travel. Taking advantage of the time off during each school vacation, over the course of many years, she was able to visit numerous countries around the globe. “I’ve been so fortunate to have traveled all over the world, learning about other cultures and visiting their schools. It truly opens your eyes to what is important.” Learning so much from her visits to various countries, Ellen has realized that, as she says, “there is no greater joy than to give without attachment.”

          Ellen retired from teaching in June, 2020, which left her with a great desire to again, do something meaningful. “Teaching had been such a fulfilling career, where I know I made a real difference every day and impacted so many lives.” Wanting to continue to make a difference, Ellen found a way to incorporate what she loves to do, i.e. painting, photographing and creating works of art, while contributing to the greater good. Thus came about “Painting with a Purpose” where each work of art is sold with the proceeds going to charity.