Ella Ahlers – Pelicans and Berg River Houses

by Jordan Hedgecock

From first impression Pelicans and Berg River Houses appears to be more of an oil piece than an acrylic work, showcasing an interesting set of skills that Ella Ahlers contains. It is not a surprise that even while being an acrylic piece the view is very oil like, Ahlers started her artistic career working with the oil medium before transitioning over the acrylics and inks. After making the transition it is not a surprise that the methodology would carry over.

The pelicans floating upon the Berg River described as “delicate lilies” by Ahlers herself could not be more accurate, observing the piece the pelicans are a soft almost angelic contrast to the dark tones of the river they are floating upon together. While not being painted in a realist style of work it gives the viewer what feels like a very real view of the river and homes, so much so that we could hear the flowing water, smell the drying grass, and hear those living in the homes by the river. The piece is soft and inviting and muted at the same time. The dark tones off of the homes and especially the river do not detract from the river but rather strengthen it, if the piece was filled with brighter coloration it would certainly lack its feel and the once delicate, angelic pelicans would no longer provide the contrast that gives them their soft pillow like appearance.

Ahlers has many other similar pieces in her portfolio focused on the beauty of nature, often very simple scenes (in subject), such as this here or a simple shore with a centrally focused boat. The importance is the manner in which she presents them. If it was simply just these items painted it would be nothing more than a record of a scene in a landscape but with her abilities to give us more we are taken on an emotional journey and allow ourselves to feel what it is to be in these areas of South Africa, to feel the richness of "where the river, sea, and land meet" as she puts it.

Pelicans and Berg River Houses is an Acrylic piece, measuring 17” x 12” and is framed.