Ellen Shire is a New York artist whose painting career melds the artistic history of the city of her birth with the historical richness of Europe.

Ms. Shire, the daughter of an original Martha Graham dancer (and painter) and a founding member of the Manhattan String Quartet, was herself a member of the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Ballanchine.

She also found parallel success as the writer and illustrator of more than seven children's books - one of which was a finalist for a National Book Award.

After her tenure with the NYCB, Ms. Shire divided her time between New York, Mallorca, Greece and Paris, absorbing the rich cultures and colors of each place.

In 1981, Ms. Shire chose to concentrate entirely on the development of her painting. She says:

"There is a thread which runs through my life connecting all the events and professions I have pursued: Dance, music and writing were all strands that fused into the whole which for me is abstract painting.

"As painting became the focus of my life, artists such as the 17th century Dutch masters, Morandi, Rothko and my mother were paramount in shaping my vision.

"I work primarily with a limited number of mediums: Oil on canvas, acrylic, gouache pastel and graphite as well as making wood constructions. I often combine these mediums.

"I prefer to create an experience and a balance between light, space, movement and simplicity rather than 'making a picture'. This is always my goal when approaching a canvas or a piece of paper.

"This does not mean, however, that I reject objective work. With the drawings I enjoy drawing people and objects in a semi-absract form, which I often do along side my abstract work. I cannot live without creative work, even when the work is going badly. My life is defined by art."

After the '80s, Ms. Shire spent time in Amsterdam and in Lubeck, Germany where she worked as an artist-in-residence at the GEDOK Atelierhaus for three summers. Since 2000, Ms. Shire and her husband have divided their time between southwest France and New York.

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