Christiane Cullens

Scene

Exhibit Location: Cyr Gallery

Special Event: Meet the artist on Tuesday, June 4, 6-7pm.

Notes: Some of Christiane’s paintings are for sale. Please stop by the reference desk for more information.

About Christiane and Her Work

Christiane Cullens has always made art.  

As an artist, she has engaged with and learned from many media over the decades. Early on, she pulverized rocks to make her own paint and tried burning several different kinds of “things” to see how well the charcoal would mark up other “things”. 

Her mother decided to simply provide supplies after one harrowing experiment followed another.

In college, she studied drawing and painting as well as Irish Mythology and Literature. Since that time, she’s done a lot of different jobs and projects, but fell into teaching by her early thirties and found it suited her and her arrested development quite well. Currently, she teaches English to seniors at Mount Desert Island High School and always looks for ways to incorporate more art and music into her curriculum on the daily.

One of the few constants over her career has been tattoo design with a focus on Celtic and Viking zoomorphics and knotwork; many of which have become personally drafted tattoo commissions for more people than she can really remember. She has also done murals, tons of graffiti, pen and ink illustrations, comics, watercolor, sculpture and various kinds of printmaking as well as dabbling in mixed media when the wind is north-north-west.  She still occasionally sets things on fire. For art.

By closely observing the natural world around her, she is literally drawn to the disciplines of drafting and painting to find that the space between what she thinks she understands and what actually is can be pretty cool, not to mention very, very humbling.

She lives with her husband, son and their herd of cats in the deep woods of Surry, Maine.

About the Art

The subjects of the work in this show primarily come from Christiane’s home and the woods and sea she frequents. After a long hiatus from painting in any sort of traditional sense, she began again when she realized she’d never made any art for her lovely husband. 

Clearly, something needed to change. 

Inspired by a lifelong love of crows and their loyalty to their mates, she began a study of corvids that culminated in the creation of a good number of illustrations and paintings over the last decade, two of which you see here.

From this experience, she began to really look hard and appreciate her home and the natural world that surrounds her in real time and removed from any romantic trappings.

For her current painting process, she spends a good deal of time walking around and snapping images with her iPhone in all manner of weather in any time of year to capture images for color palette, composition, detail or just sheer beauty.  From the snaps, some serve as a basis for drawings and from there, even fewer evolve into the kinds of paintings you see.  They tend to take a very long time and there are always at least three works in process at any given time in her studio.

There is always a fabulous struggle between what we think something should look like and what it wants to become.  Painting for Christiane has evolved into a sort of listening meditation where she lets the subject and the media decide while she politely tries to get out of her own way.

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