American Art

William E. Elston

 American/Washington, b. 1949


William E. Elston was born on June 18, 1949 in Spirit Lake Idaho. He grew up in the rural area southeast of Spokane Washington called Glenrose Prairie. He attended high school in Spokane at the then newly built Joel E. Ferris High School. After leaving home at age 17 he traveled extensively, to San Francisco during the peak of the hippy era, then to Los Angeles, New York and Montreal, Quebec, where he finished high school studies at Baron Byng High School. He returned to the Pacific Northwest and studied painting at Fort Wright College of the Holy Names in Spokane, and at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Fort Wright.

Mr. Elston then spent several years studying privately in New York and Boston. His first experiences with landscape painting and drawing were on a trip to Vancouver BC, Victoria BC and Seattle while he was still in high school. He continued painting landscape en plein air during his college years, and has made depicting the rural and urban landscape his principal area of interest. During those same years he developed a deep and abiding interest in the history of art, and especially in the social history of painting.

Mr. Elston has taught at Fort Wright College, The Spokane Art School, The Academy for Realist Art (now The Gage Academy,) the Frye Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and has been a guest lecturer at Marymount Manhattan College in New York, Whitworth College in Spokane, Eastern Washington University in Cheney, the University of Washington in Seattle, and The Gage Academy. He continues to teach ongoing plein air classes and workshops in Seattle and surrounding areas. Mr. Elston was an original founding member of the Northwest Figurative Artists’ Alliance, an organization that presented lectures and symposia on issues related to figurative art and Realism, sponsored ongoing roundtable discussions and periodic meetings amongst artists, published a bi-monthly journal of art criticism and review, networked with figurative artists worldwide and actively worked to promote the concerns of Realism and figuration. At its peak the organization had over 60 members. The Northwest Figurative Artists’ Alliance has been recently revived with many of its original members, as well as a younger generation of figurative artists.

William E. Elston’s work has been widely collected in the United States and in Europe, and is included in many public, private and corporate collections. These include Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, McGraw Hill, American Express, Ashforth Pacific, Miller Nash LLP, Swedish Hospital in Seattle, University Hospital, Evergreen Hospital, Bill and Melinda Gates, the City of Seattle and the City of Portland.