Those deep purple shadows on the paved roadways, the reflection etched on gold that is the human body on sand, sunlight wrapping itself around a bunch of coconuts creating contrast and depth…these are the things that Christine sees, and brings to life with the tips of her brushes on paper and canvas.
Post hurricane Irma, Christine and her husband purchased a storm damaged house and have been painstakingly rebuilding it. As serendipity would have it, they moved in just days before the next set back – the 2020 COVID-19 lock down. Serendipity because for the first time ever, Christine had built a home-studio in one of the rooms. And so we talked to her about what it is like to have a home-studio, a quiet place of her own. We hope to inspire those who think about someday having something similar, be it a painting studio, reading nook, meditation garden or some kind of creative space, as this new age of spending more time at home becomes reality and a big part of our everyday future.
L & S: Tell us about your background.
CT: I grew up in Barbados in a home that always had guitar music playing as my dad was a guitarist/singer and a member of the Merrimen band – the famous Bajan Calypso band. My mum bought me art supplies as this was always my request for gifts at Christmas and birthdays. I scribbled and drew on anything I could get my hands on from a very early age.
L & S: Do you have a memory of your first art experience or what made you want to paint?
CT: I can vividly remember staring at an old oil painting with fascination at age 6 and trying to figure out how the painter could have captured sunlight glinting off the coconut palm leaves.
L & S: Can you tell me a little bit about your training or your self-teaching?
CT: I got my Cambridge O Level in Art, attended a few workshops with visiting professional artists to supplement studying from art books. I painted from life and from reference photos I took. I also painted with art groups in Barbados and then Tortola when my family moved here in 1991. The experience of working alongside like-minded individuals and having an honest critique of your work is invaluable. If you can embrace the serious critique, your work will grow from strength to strength.
L & S: What is your favorite medium to work with and why?
CT: I love pen and ink work and alternate between watercolor and acrylic. Using watercolor, one can create deep layers and glowing ethereal lights. And the vibrancy and juiciness one can immediately achieve in acrylic is fabulous.
L & S: How do you choose your subject matter? What inspires you?
CT: I vary my subject matter between commissions. By allowing the magic of light, bathing a seemingly every day scene, in magical, juicy color and deep color drenched shadows, a subject will call me to paint it.
L & S: Tell me what it is like to go into your studio…knowing it’s your own space and what you enjoy most about the space.
CT: I slip into a zone of line, color and values that have a warped sense of time when I am painting. To be able to paint in a space that is dedicated to creativity and allows me to leave a project in place and return to it to continue is an empowering thing. I have painted on my dining table and had to clear away my work for fifty years. It is a lifelong dream come true to finally have my home studio.
L & S: If you had a piece of advice for people wanting to get to that place of having their own creative space, what would it be?
CT: I have always found that the skill level in my head is more advanced than the skill level in my hand. Paint, paint, paint…on any surface that you have available and set up a corner to have your art supplies together until you can have a home studio to settle into. Don’t wait until you have that studio. You create and it’s in the doing that your skill level will strengthen.
For more inspiration, Christine’s works can be seen in person and are for sale at Nutmeg & Co. on Waterfront Drive.