Christy Harris – An Inspiration

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If there ever was a passionate voice that makes us want to pick up a paint brush, it must be the voice of Christy Harris.

Based in Australia and relatively new to painting, she is so incredibly passionate, refreshing and self-deprecatingly funny that we just have to share her story with you.

This is Christy in her own words:

This month strikes my two year art anniversary. I’m a 42 year old stay at home mum to a very spirited four year old who doesn’t sleep. My history has always been in the needle arts, with stumpwork and goldwork being of interest. I am afraid that I have no art nor art history under my belt other than what I have been learning through google in these last two years.

I found art quite through accident two years ago this month. I was at a paper ‘crafternoon’ tea at my family centre ( I suck at paper crafts) and the ladies were talking about adult colouring books and how relaxing they are, I was only partially listen as I was trying to destick paper bits from my fingers and onto my card but later that afternoon, my then two year old and I were at the shops and I saw a colouring books and thought ” Why not?” . I next hit the art shop in the shops and they sold me rather dear coloured pencils and odourless spirits and sent me on my way.

A couple of days later , still not knowing what to do with the spirits, I took to google where I came upon Tamara Laporte’s site where she had. ” Favourite Things ” post and after reading that, I poked around and found that she had a free whimsical face class and I got out my little one’s watercolour paints and gave it a go.

I posted my results with a thank you on Tam’s fb group and was encouraged to continue. One lovely lady here in our Eastern States offered to send me some of her old supplies to get me going.

I then spent a few months gobbling up Tam’s classes but also being introduced to other Whimsical Artists and their styles wishing Tams groups and I branched out to other Facebook teachers.

It was within on of those teachers class groups that a fellow student wanted to buy my homework and I sold my first painting.

I knew I wanted more depth and a touch more realism in my work, but didn’t know where to start, so, I retuned to google and just googled ‘ paintings’ and spent days pouring over them and seeing what I liked and what I didn’t like and in the meantime, I just kept pushing myself for smaller eyes than the whimsical type and I tired very tight and controlled techniques and struggled to try lose ones too and as I’d finish something, soon after, I’d be contacted about a purchase.

And this is how I have carried on, struggling and pushing and crying and praying. I consider my work a ‘ confused whimsical ‘ style..not quite whimsical fully and not quite realistic.

I feel that I am much better at sculpting with paint than I am sketching, so, I try to make myself sketch too, if it makes me uncomfortable, then I realise that it’s something that I need to do and sketching makes me uncomfortable.

I like working from reference but I also have been pushing myself to work with my non dominant hand and work expressively and sometimes without revenue nor concept and that is how Ophelia happened. I was taking a break from my large piece for school holidays and painting tiny expressive faces on tea bags and was enjoying the technique but followers asked me to try the technique on a canvas instead a a tea bag and I thought ” Why not” and just sat down with the canvas and an Inktense pencil and was thinking of an expressive clown with a balloon as a tea bag had been a clown people had liked. But, the cancan was round and I wasn’t thinking and placed the face at an odd angle and then started seeing how far I could push the pose . My followers loved her at that stage and wanted me to leave her deconstructed but, my main buyer contacted me and said ” What if you kept going, who would she become” and that’s how she became Ophelia.

I’m a little uncomfortable with having an Ophelia as I don’t feel that I have earned the right to have painted an Ophelia but there she is..

The under paintings are a newer thing for me as I felt like I would keep reaching almost completion or maybe half way and take a wrong turn and not know how to return , so, I decided to try the under paintings as a road map and that lead to fun with glazing and I found that I adore glazing, especially loosely and painterly over a more controlled underpainting.

Basically, long story short, I don’t know what I am doing half of the time but I just keep reaching and see where I end up.

Here is where Ophelia started, poor girl wasn’t very pretty..though I prefer a more interesting face to pretty one, so, had the colours not been the unfortunate real and purple ( remember it was going to be a clown-hehe) I may have indeed left her in her ugly unfinished state.

Thank you so much in your care for getting the paint out!! I’m super excited! Thank you for your interest in my story!! Cheers, Christy

CHRISTY, WE SALUTE YOU :))

The Ophelia that started life as a clown:

Under painting