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With this body of work, I have been experimenting with how to capture the essence of a person, but with minimal information, by reducing the shapes, textures, and details of their physical appearance into a bold positive/negative drawing.

These drawings are a composite composition. Each person is drawn individually, then by layering up and placing different people uncomfortably close to each other the final image is created. They are designed to show a ‘snapshot’ of the people who inhabit a place at a certain point in time. 

I create family portraits in this same style so if you are interested in commissioning a family portrait please do get in touch via the contact page. Please scroll down to see examples of family portraits. 


This photo shows the drawing by Marhta Ellis which has been cut out by hand from a large sheet of black plastic. The drawing is of 12 people who are walking, running and standing. They are overlapping each other. The drawing has bene cut out so anythign which is white is cut away and anything which is black has remained. The drawing is mounted away from the wall so shadows are cast behing it.

During a residency at Edinburgh Academy, I would regularly walk along the Water of Leith in Stockbridge. As I walked, I would document the people I passed.

This drawing is a collection of people I passed on the 19th November, I created the composition to deliberately place people touching and overlapping. As they were walking alone but I wanted the drawing to look busy and uncomfortable.

The drawing is mounted using specialist hanging blocks which are screwed directly into the wall and leaves space to cast a shadow behind. Hanging blocks and screws are provided.

Hand cut Foamex PVC plastic

210/110cm or 83/43''


This phot shows Martha Ellis' drawing of people being displayed in a gallery
This photo shows Martha Ellis' drawing whilst it is being made. Park of the drawig has been cut using a standley knife and scaple .
This image shows the drawing on display in a gallery along side of drawings by the artists Martha Ellis


This is drawing of students from a school. There are 8 students doing different activies, some are drawing, taking photos nad using woodworking tools.

Laser cut black Acrylic which unframed and mounted off the wall casting shadows behind. Work comes with hanging blocks and screws.

85/49 cm or 33/19''

Edition of 10


This drawing shows seven students in a Pipe band. Some are playing bigpipes, others drums and some are waiting to play. It is a black image cut out of sheet material.


Laser cut black Acrylic which unframed and mounted off the wall casting shadows behind. Work comes with hanging blocks and screws.

85/53 cm or 33/21''

Edition of 10



This is a cut out black and white drawing of a family, there is a dad, a small son and amother carrying a bady on her front.
This is a drawing of a mother and her son holding hands walking away from us viewing them. The drawing is black and white and cut from sheet material.

Commissioning a family portrait is a wonderful way to capture a moment in time, to celebrate the important people in your life. Each portrait is completely individual and can be made from a variety of materials and a range of sizes.

To commission a portrait please do get in touch via the contact page . I would ideally meet the family members in person to take them out for a walk and get photographs and sketches in real life. I can potentially add extra members of the family from old photographs, but this would have to be discussed on an individual basis.

Each commission is bespoke so a consultation would take place before a fee can be arranged (depends on material, process, and scale of the drawing). So please do get in touch if you would like to know more.

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