UV ARTIST/ ILLUSTRATOR/ DESIGNER/ MUSICIAN
I am an artist, illustrator, musician and writer; with the personality of a tiger, and the attitude, and metaphorical teeth, to match. I champion those who are brilliant, and know it; and despise the "con artists" and the "humblebraggers" of the world who seek to curry favour; and those who I call the "humbuggers", who speak in trite language and hackneyed adjectives, in the hope that people will love them more.
I studied at both Winchester School of Art and London College of Fashion; something of a bye-the-bye fact, but nothing particularly important. I was nearly expelled from one institution - and left early, and got a full refund, for something which was apparently called an "MA" - but turned out to be a joke - from the other. The latter action was unheard of; no higher education institution ever gives anyone refunds, ever. I took them on, and won.
The University of Life has invariably taught me all I need to know about art, and more; as it should, others. We don't need teachers to tell us what to do, or else; we have our own brains, and our own minds, and it's up to us to use them, and exploit them to our full potential, during the limited time that we have here.
One thing one can never accuse me of, is having stood still during my life; I believe in seizing the opportunities that life offers us, going for the ones which float our boat the most, and shaking every last drop out of them, until we've satisfied and satiated ourselves. And to look within ourselves; not to do simply "what is expected of us", but to go much further than that - to give people what they need (they may not know they need it). For some strange reason, people expect that one is put on this earth to fulfil a "role" - such an outdated, outmoded, old-hat way of thinking - pre-20th century thinking - and definetely not 21st-century thinking - much like in some sort of caste system, or Ayn Rand's book "Anthem" - I'm a keen Ayn Rand-ite, by the way.
Yes, I'm an artist, through and through. But you have to let me bring my own take on things to the table. Otherwise, I'm not playing. I refuse to be a "repeater". For a time I was a botanical illustrator. After a hiatus following my first degree, I swore I would never do Art again, and didn't touch a paintbrush for three years, Then slowly, I got back into it again. Going away and practising botanical illustration, off my own bat, teaching myself, taught me everything I was never taught at Art School, or at any time beforehand. It was my drawing and painting training; I experimented with various media and found a failsafe method, which worked for me and indeed, worked for about 99% of other people too, during the time that I did teach (yes, I was a teacher once - but it was never my intention to be anything like some of the "Art" teachers I had encountered - whose paltry efforts I rightly scoffed at).
However, once I had written my book, Drawing and Painting Plants, published by Bloomsbury in 2006, I was asked by many, "why don't you do another one?" What, more of the same, for the next 40 years? Sorry, loves, but that's not gonna happen. It's not how I operate. I don't do typecasting, and did not intend to become a botanical illustrator for the rest of my days. I had turned the subject inside out, as far as I personally could, and I wanted to explore other things.
For example: I'd love to become a better figure drawer. I'd love to be an all-round better draughtsman. I'd love to be better at perspective. I wish I could draw better from my imagination. I'd long to achieve some of the effects with colour, which some extraordinarily talented and unsung artists around the world achieve, and which pop up many times daily in my Facebook feed. These are people who I don't know, and who aren't my "friends", in the traditional way that one would think of "friends". But they are, my "friends", because their vision is one of beauty, one of nobleness, or striving for the spirit of the best in Art, a subject which has been so woefully neglected in an educational sense over the past decade, but is alive and kicking outside the usual structures. Because Art is not, and should not be classed as, an academic subject. It is a vocational one - or dare, I say, a life-style, for which there is simply no training. You shouldn't have a degree in Art; if you desire any sort of qualification at all, you should be satisfied with a diploma. A PhD in Art? What's all that about? Why be satisfied with any sort of degree at all? You should be satisfied, or not, with your own talent, the wellspring that resides within you!
I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of Art, yet, and I don't intend to die until I get the chance to try everything I want to, out. Brilliant artists are everywhere; they just simply don't hang in galleries to amuse the masses, who just trundle along there for something to do, rather than looking elsewhere (or even, God help them, inside their own minds) for inspiration. So it is, that on and off, I pursue painting, illustration, textile design, writing and music alike, and all with the relentless vigour and the vortex, the hurricane that guides my spirit. Hurricane Christina, that's me.
I had a big break from art on turning 40, as uncharacteristically for me, I ran out of ideas. I don't know whether I'd boxed myself into a corner or what, but realize now that I just simply hadn't given much thought to what I was going to do upon turning 40. There was a blank, somehow. I didn't know what was going to come next, but one thing is for certain; I know this is a hackneyed phrase, but you should never assume that life will go on being the same, forever.
I returned to Art in late 2019. Then, along came lockdown, and the rest is history. I am a rather spectacular, almost textbook example of bipolarity, so that when I am depressed, or am short of ideas, I produce almost no work at all. I hadn't done anything for 5 years, but following a tentative foray into office administration (severely curtailed due to lockdown), returned to Art with a vengeance. I have to say that 2020 was one of the most productive years I'd had in a long, long time.
Therefore, for the moment, I've split my output into three sites. My current artwork and writing sites are here (www.crimari.com , www.thehornblower.com), and my previous work, predating 2015, is here at www.queen-christina.com, It makes more sense, to arrange things that way.
I've mentioned people attempting to typecast me, but I also realize that fundamentally I am a creator. Yes, I'm God, and not ashamed to admit it. Much as I'm sure I'd have loved to be an accountant, or a mum, in another life, this is most definetely the template for my present life, and I accept it wholeheartedly, because to me there is always so much room for scope and growth, and learning. Doing Art - genuinely good Art - isn't for thickos; you do actually have to have some quantity of grey matter as some sort of backup, to keep you wanting, thinking, feeling, striving, for more. I am a greedy animal; greedy for Art in its noblest, rather than its most debased, forms. I have no time for the latter. People who get a perverse pleasure out of watching the kind of grossness featured in" The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover" can go stick it up their jumper!
I believe in upward mobility of thinking. I have come to the realization that I can only do good, and give gifts to the world, by being my creative self. If we have imprints for our lives, that is certainly mine; and by my own free admission, I don't seem to be able to do anything else.
What I've loved doing most recently, is UV painting. And mixed media. Fine pencil drawing combined with wash watercolour, black acrylic for dark shadows (shhhh...I don't want to give away all my secrets, now!!)
I'm something of a pedant; I like order (but not too much order) and am adept at creating it out of chaos, as in, creating a silk purse out of a sow's ear; untangling several balls of wool and sorting them into colours, and stacking them into an inviting arrangement that will make people want to come and play with them, start crocheting with them, calming their spirit whilst making something beautiful out of an environment, where previously you wouldn't have known where to begin, because of all the mess.
It's fair to say that one of my greatest strengths is that of documenting the world around me, in great detail. I place a great deal of value on narrative and strength of ideas, and can't underestimate enough the quality of that in one's work, rather than of merely being overly literal. Art should always tell a story. Perhaps this is why I become a little impatient with much commercial design, its generic qualities, and its recycling of motifs and lack of personality; I vastly prefer the vision and touch of the individual.
Nowadays, I basically draw and paint whatever I like, when I feel like it. Art as taught in art-schools is too rushed, which is why the most favoured graduates often form a very neat production line. I have decided to draw a line under my experience of teaching; I just simply refuse to do it any more. I instead feel that progress in Art tends to come about by doing, and that there is a place for teaching by inspiration, and by example.
Art cannot be rushed. If you want to produce something meaningful and of value, go away and hibernate for several years. Only then will you learn to find yourself, which I can guarantee won't be your old self; it will be your new self, re-emerged, remodelled, reinvigorated, and reborn!
I'm not usually big on quotes. I'm perfectly capable of being able to generate plenty of quotes of my own - but here are a couple of favourites I'll leave you with, which invariably "do it" for me, come rain or shine, and which I think, are particularly pertinent at this time of year. I'm a Spring baby, and Spring babies are, notoriously, fighters, with a life-force within us that others can only gawp at.
"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower..." - Dylan Thomas
"I have been dead, I have been alive. I am Taliesin." - Anonymous
Christina Crimari (Brodie)