Jan Davey Ellis is a native of Ohio. She received her B.F.A. in Painting from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Jan spent most of her childhood reading. She pored over the illustrations of her favorite books, studying the intricate drawings. She took art lessons at the Cleveland Museum of Art, moving from gallery to gallery with a little collapsible canvas stool and drawing boards, in order to sketch different works of art.
When her children were small, Jan would help them to make little pop-up books with secret flaps that lifted up to reveal surprises. She painted her daughter's bedroom with a well-sized mural of a pastoral farm scene. The mural became the basis of a business that she started in collaboration with interior designers to paint walls and furniture. A friend saw her work and convinced her to illustrate her first children's book, MUSH! Across Alaska In The World's Longest Sled Dog Race, by Patricia Seibert (The Millbrook Press).
Jan is the illustrator of Turn of the Century by Ellen Jackson. She says that during her art lessons at the Cleveland Museum of Art, her favorite area was the hall of medieval armor and weaponry. Jan remembers this room as "pivotal in her appreciation and yearning for the images of other times and places." While illustrating Turn of the Century, Jan had the chance to draw and explore 1000 years of history for children.
When she is not busy drawing and painting. Jan enjoys gardening, tennis, jogging, animals, and daydreaming. She has taught after-school enrichment classes and she once built a thirty-foot Chinese dragon with one of her classes.