We had the good fortune of connecting with Ellen Schuster and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ellen, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I honestly didn’t mean to start a business. I fell in love with painting and exploring new techniques and mediums. It was actually my husband who encouraged me to allow myself the practuce of showing up daily like it was a job. The whole philosophy of 10,000 hours…. It wasn’t for money or anything else because that would have spoiled any creativity and fear and comparison would have creeped in, killing creativity. As I started creating, friends began asking if they could buy pieces. Then I decided to begin posting my art on Instagram and that is where it took a turn to be more of a business.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I feel like what sets me apart from other artists is my background with an undergraduate degree is interior design and art history. I have ALWAYS been drawn to beauty especially in the form of color and texture. It wasn’t until my husband and I moved to New York City in our 40s where I has an epiphany that I did not know who I really was… I began enrolling in every art class I could find. The Art Students League was only a few blocks from my apartment. I had no idea at the time that this is where some of the most iconic abstract expressionists also initially picked up paint brushes.
You could say I’m a recovering perfectionist. I love learning and growing and exploring – striving to let go of doing it by the book and allowing myself to make mistakes and learning from those mistakes. My mistakes actually produce the best art! This new freedom requires a lot of unlearning. And I struggle with that every day. Anticipating a blank canvas, can bring fear. “What do I do? How do I start? Will it be any good?” Then I hear Brene Brown’s words echoing in my studio: “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” I also draw inspiration and courage from various music while painting which enables bravery and enjoyment in the process. It is challenging to believe that there are no mistakes and there is nothing to loose with creativity.
I want the world to know that I’m deeply inspired by the privilege of adding beauty into someone’s home, etc, where they live life every day. That’s truly motivating. I would gladly (and do) lose sleep in order to create something for someone’s home that brings them joy daily.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would definitely start at Tiny Boxwoods for a meal or several if we have a week. It is not only absolutely delicious but has a french garden vibe. It is perfection! Bebidas for brunch and hang out under the big oak trees to visit for hours.
Walk around Rice University (3 mile loop) as well as walk down North and South Boulevard as it is lined in huge live oak trees so much so that you rarely can see the sky.
Walk Memorial Park (3 mile loop)
Walk or ride bikes in Buffalo Bayou Park
vintage shopping- in the Heights and The Guild Shop
If they like touristy things, go to Space Center Houston-Nasa for a special tour.
Tour the Menil Collection (free amazing art museum) and eat at Bistro Menil
Go to River Oaks District–outdoor luxury shopping area with an IPIC movie theater
MFA Houston for art museum and enjoy the Van Gogh Immersive Experience
Go to an Astros game if they were playing in town
Cockrell Butterfly Museum and the Museum of Natural Science and the wonderful Houston Zoo
Go to Galveston for the day-see the newly remodeled Galvez Hotel
Certainly take them to the rodeo if they visit that time of year.
Armando’s Mexican restaurant-best Tex-Mex-You have to have Mexican food in Texas!
We definitely would go to The Heights neighborhood for some of the best restaurants–Coltivare
Bludorn for dinner–chic, delicious and fun
Uchi for dinner which is in a historic building as well
definitely dinner at One Fifth with James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd-the concept and menu changes annually. It has been five different restaurants in five years in a beautiful historic building.
Ostia such a great neighborhood vibe with amazing setting and Italian food
Paulie’s for iced sugar cookies. Milk and Cookies for best sweets, ice cream and their famous chocolate chip cookies.
State of Grace for dinner
Vibrant and Local Foods for lunch
Order Thai food and sit on my screened in porch which is my favorite room in my house.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I give a HUGE shout out to my husband who continually encourages me and gave me the idea to treat this new love for creating art as a full time job. My daughters and close friends have always been completely supportive, involved and encouraging me to dream bigger.
I also have a dear friend who works at the Doerr Institute at Rice University who gifted me some coaching hours with me early on. The first thing she had me do is order business cards that said Ellen Schuster -Artist. This sounds silly but that was a really hard first step to admit that I am an artist!
Countless friends, designers, art lovers, mentors, other artists, shops/galleries also have validated me as an artist. They say it takes a village… and my village has been incredibly empowering!
The only picture that needs to be credited is the one with the 8 watercolors interior designer: Susie Maddox & photographer: Jen Burner Thank you!