Naomi Christenson has been featured here before as a dancer, this week we get to see her work as a painter. A self-described “detail junkie” she gets inspiration from unusual places, including fungus and lichen. Her paintings are filled with immaculate detail and vibrant colors, abstraction and pattern.
NC: I primarily work in acrylic paint, though I’ve also worked with oil and gouache for some projects. When I started painting, it was in a classroom and we worked primarily on still lives. The instructor set up a backdrop with a diverse collection of objects in the foreground and we painted it. In that setting, I found myself most drawn to the complex objects with lots of detail. An old gumball machine with its glassy top, red metal body and shiny silver flourishes springs to mind as one of my favorite objects to paint. Beyond classes, the more I painted the more my style came into view. For example, I found myself happiest with paintings that not only had a lot of detail but also a lot of color. Years later I discovered my love of natural patterns and the mix within my work became more interesting.
At this point in my career, I’d call my work the colorful explorations of natural pattern by a complete detail junkie.
I began painting roughly 17 years ago, but I was drawing long before that. Drawing was such a good forerunner to painting for me, especially since detail and realism are important elements of my pieces.
Being a detail junkie comes with the excitement and burden of handling lots of details. There are no “fast” paintings, so time is definitely a challenge there. I think battling perfectionism is another challenge, but it’s important to not let perfectionism win. Then you just stop making art. The rewards are worth it though. I didn’t decide to love detail, but I do love it so much. When I’m able to produce the thing I love, that my brain is super excited about, it’s just so fun! I sometimes describe it as lots of happy bells ringing in my head when I complete a piece, it’s exciting!
I have paintings in several galleries in Minnesota:
Lizzards Art Gallery & Framing, Duluth
Lakeside Gallery, Duluth
Gallery 360, Minneapolis
Night Art Gallery, Lindstrom
I have a couple shows coming up in 2019 for which I am creating new work. Both shows will feature new paintings of fungus and lichen.
Red Mug Coffee, Superior
Opening reception: March 7, 2019, 5:00-7:00 pm
Gallery 360, Minneapolis
Opening reception: May 18, 2019
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