Carolyn Elynor Ellingson

June 8, 1937 - April 26, 2002

Carolyn Ellingson

San Francisco and Hunters Point Shipyard lost a colorful and spirited artist in the spring of 2002. Carolyn Elynor Ellingson died April 26th in Liberty Lake, WA, where she had recently relocated to be with family. Carolyn had been a resident of San Francisco for the last 20 years, tirelessly pursuing painting and printmaking in her Hunters Point Shipyard art studio under her Artgroove copyright. Her art is dominated by bold compositions of vivid color in a non-representational form, and it will serve us well as a reminder of Carolyn's courageously creative approach to life. Carolyn's work can be viewed online at, and her family continues efforts to increase the access to her work.

Carolyn was born in Chicago, IL on June 8, 1937, the daughter of Robert and Elynor Martner. At the age of 8, she moved with her family to Minneapolis, MN, where she spent the next 35 years of her life. She was married in 1956 to Ronald Karl Ellingson. She and Ronald raised 3 sons, and in the early 1970s Carolyn earned a Masters degree in Public Health Administration at the University of Minnesota. She left Minneapolis after divorce in 1980, and, after a brief 2 year stay in Florida, moved to San Francisco, where she lived happily until April of 2002.

Carolyn based her approach to art on an effective combination of ambition, verve, experimentation, and research. She never paused at strengthening the knowledge and understanding upon which her work is based. She wanted to know it all -- the technical details of the materials she used, the thoughts and styles of other artists, the history and breadth of art across many cultures, but also the ideas that have served as the edge of contemporary thinking -- and her research lead her to a sizable body of literature as well as to experts in many fields.

Her styles of art are quite varied, and reveal the experimental side of her approach. Her early career included time as an art teacher at Upward Bound, a program at the University of Minnesota directed toward talented but at-risk teenagers. Over the years she produced works of macrame, sculpture, batik, jewelry, and neon. The last fifteen years or so she devoted almost exclusively to images -- painting and printmaking (monotype and intaglio) -- and varied her media within these categories. The variety of media and styles resist summarization, but include iridescent paints, fluorescent paints, large canvases of nearly a single color, chin colle, india ink, many examples of mixed media (collage, pastel, watercolor, oil, monotype), abstract, and (arguably her favorite) non-representational. Color was central to her thinking, and many of her works, and even series, focus on one color. Her compositions seem to have evolved independently of her media choices. Carolyn sought to create art which satisfied both her and her collectors, and she ultimately managed to produce work in a variety of styles ranging from bright, clean, modern designs to large, heavily-painted oil canvases.

Surviving Carolyn at the time of her death were her mother, Elynor Sturm Martner of Phoenix AZ; her brothers Glen Robert Martner of Fontana CA, and Brooks Emory Martner of Lafayette CO; her sons Jeffrey Dean Ellingson of Liberty Lake WA, Terrence Parker Ellingson of Boise ID, and Randall Jay Ellingson of Denver CO; and grandchildren Paige Decker Ellingson and Karl Decker Ellingson of Liberty Lake WA and Kelli Amber Ellingson, Allison Jane Ellingson, and Holly Marie Ellingson of Boise ID. Carolyn's mother, Elynor Sturm Martner, died in Phoenix, AZ December 26, 2002.

An energetic and appropriately lively memorial celebration was held May 18th in her studio at Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco. Friends and family shared memories, thoughts, stories and impressions amidst a showing of Carolyn's art, and a slide show showed photos of her life and her art.

Memorial donations were directed to local Hospice organizations, or to Hospice of Spokane, which so freely and gracefully cared for Carolyn in the eve of her life: Hospice of Spokane, 1325 W First Ave Suite 200, Spokane, WA 99210.