I knew Christine briefly when I lived in my hometown in Indiana. Though I only spent a small amount of time with her, I saw her as a strong and gentle soul. I didn't know she was an Artist until recently when a mutual friend mentioned this to me. I looked at her work online and saw that same beautiful gentle strength I remembered. I found her work calming. It caused me to pause and take a moment to breathe and slow down.
Christine was born in the relatively small town of Greenville, IL. She lived in Illinois until 2nd grade when her family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida for her 2nd-5th grade years. After that they moved to Wilmore, Kentucky, where she lived through college. She met her husband at Asbury University in Wilmore Kentucky. They were married in Wilmore and remained there for six more years until they moved to Kathmandu, Nepal where they served for two years with a mission called Word Made Flesh. WMF is a Christian missional communityserves among the world’s most vulnerable. After their two year commitment with WMF, they moved to Anderson, Indiana. They have been here for 15 years now.
ow let's start the interview!
Christine, do you remember making art as a child? Are there any specific memories of art making as a child that you’d like to share here?
I loved making things as a child. Sometimes I sewed things because my mom sewed and so she had those materials. I made clothes for my cat! When we lived in Florida, I would make rafts and structures for lizards to float on in the canal. I would really make anything I could with the resources that I had. We didn’t have a lot of art supplies, so I would just use what I had…mud pies anyone? I enjoyed drawing somewhat, but that would not become my main media. I did win a 2nd prize in an art contest in 2nd grade. It was a crayon drawing.
Did you study art in school? What did you study? How do you think your education plays into your work?
I chose to play in the Band instead of Art throughout High School. When I got to College I began a major in Psychology, but ultimately ended up with a degree in Education. I taught preschool for 6 years and Art for 4 years, so my education degree did come in handy. I have also taught classes at The Anderson Center for the Arts. Kids are fun and so uninhibited when it comes to creativity, so it is fun! But I have really enjoyed making my own art. That is my “vein of gold.”
How long have you been creating art?
All my life!
How and where did you learn book binding? Jewelry making? Painting?
I learned book binding years ago when I was briefly on the advisory committee for a group called Bound for Freedom. This group of young women made journals and donated the proceeds to combat human trafficking. I periodically would volunteer with them to help make the books. When that ended, I sort of forgot about book binding for a few years. When I picked it up again I started trying to use as many recycled materials as I could. There are so many books being thrown out now, so it seemed a good idea to make use of them.
I can’t even remember when I started making jewelry. It was a hobby for me that just kept popping up. I started making hammered wire jewelry a few years back, and it just sort of stuck.
I really noticed about 12 years ago that I loved painting. I didn’t really know a name for my kind of painting. Now I call it intuitive or expressive painting. Painting for me was self-taught and I experienced it as a really good way to express feelings or anything I am/was going through in the moment or season of my life.
In your paintings, why do you work in the medium you work in? What do you like about it?
I love working with acrylic and acrylic inks. The colors are just so bright and fresh! I sometimes paint on Yupo paper which makes the paint really moveable and sort of unpredictable. I like the mystery and process of it all. For me, painting is my heart and soul poured out on paper or canvas!
Do you work on your art part time or full time?
I am creating art everyday and love it! I quit teaching last year to work on my own art more and have been so blessed that it is resonating with people enough to make it into a job!
Do you sell your Art at fairs, stores, galleries, or online? Tell me about any of these places.
I have been selling my Art at fairs and stores this year. I have journals at Mugs coffee shop in Anderson, and will have a few paintings there soon also. I also have journals, paintings, and jewelry at Solomon’s Porch café in Wilmore, KY. I am looking forward to selling online soon!
I notice you are also a Yoga instructor. Does this inspire or play a role or reflect in your Art in any way?
Yes! For me, Yoga and Art have much of the same intent: process and healing. Both can be contemplative practices. They require presence and an openness to mystery. I love that neither one ever gets boring for me because of the creativity and endless possibilities.
I like your name of your facebook page, “Contemplative Art by Christine.” Tell me a little about why you chose that name and what it means to you.
The ancient contemplative path has come to mean a lot to me with its emphasis on solitude, silence and stillness. It encourages the practice of connecting the head with the heart. I love integrating mind, body, and spirit whenever possible. All these things started working their way into my art experience.
You have lived in quite a few places. Do you feel the landscape you live in or memories of landscapes affect your work in any way?
Absolutely! Both the physical landscape/natural world and the internal landscapes of the soul play a big role in my art. They are both like breath--bringing life to the work! Sometimes I will think of our time in Nepal and the mountains will show up in a work. Or a big Indiana summer thunderstorm will show up. I love nature and feel that it can teach us much about God. I hope that people who view my artwork will be stirred in their spirit and resonate with one of the landscapes of their own soul.
I notice some of your books use recycled materials. Is respecting the environment important to you in your life and work?
Yes. I would say my use of recycled materials is one of my small attempts at trying to care for the world.
Are there artists or an art period which influences you and that you draw inspiration from?
I do love the expressionists/impressionists. Van Gogh is a favorite.
I noticed one of your paintings was inspired from a book. Tell me more about this. Are you often inspired by literature in your work and how?
Yes. I think the painting you are referring to is called “Fierce Landscapes II” inspired by a book I read called “The Solace of Fierce Landscapes” by Belden Lane. I tend to choose books that resonate with my spirit according to what season of life I am in. That particular book meant a lot to me. The author is just brilliant! That book invited me to consider how fierce landscapes in the natural world (deserts/mountains) can teach us about ourselves and God and the internal landscape. I sometimes read something that can serve as a theme or mantra that I carry with me into my work…mostly paintings. But, I love to add poetry and art to journals also! Even jewelry for me can arise from what I am reading or learning. I have enjoyed learning about mandalas over the years and how they can be a way to pray. Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle. My necklaces are usually circular because circles naturally express and are the universal symbol for wholeness.
Is there a certain place you chose to work in?
I like to do my art work in my own home. That’s where I feel most comfortable. One day perhaps I will have a studio, but for now, I use whatever space I have! I like to push back all the tables and chairs in the kitchen, set out a drop cloth and paint on the floor! I like being close to the ground I guess.
What do you think we as a culture can do more to support independent artists and crafters?
Things like you are doing with your blog! Also, I think we can appreciate and relish the local more, whether it’s related to the food we eat, the things we buy or the art we enjoy.
Can you name a favorite work of your own?
OOOhh, good question! I have one painting called “Beauty” that I like a lot. It is about finding beauty even in the dark places. I just made a journal to put in Solomon’s Porch with a really old book and hand torn pages. I just loved it and hope whoever buys it will too! And I wear my circle necklaces with the little colorful beads all the time!
Why do you feel it is important to be contemplative in today’s world, for yourself and/or for others.
Many of our culture’s values are the antithesis of contemplative living...busyness, speed, multitasking, etc. I think as with all of life, there needs to be balance. For me, the emphasis on the contemplative life is an attempt to bring what feels lacking—like silence, solitude and stillness-- into my everyday life. My hope is that it will also invite others to this path.
I notice you donate part of your proceeds to a charity. Tell me about this charity and why you think it is important to support it.
I am donating 15% of proceeds for all artwork sold from Solomon’s Porch in Wilmore, KY to Word Made Flesh. Word Made Flesh (based out of Wilmore) is a mission started by our friends from our college days at Asbury that we have been involved with since the beginning. We also served with WMF in Nepal from 1999-2001. It is a meaningful way for us to stay connected to the work and people that we hold close to our hearts.
Thank you so much, Christine for your willingness to share with us about your work! I think you have a strong purpose and are attaining that as well. I can’t wait to see what you create next!
If you’d like to see more of Christine’s work, visit her Facebook page at Contemplative Arts by Christine.