May 30, 2012

Lots Going On

My husband and I spent the morning at the American Fork High School graduation because there were several kids there that we love and wanted to support. It was a beautiful day and I am so proud of those seniors. It brought back many, many high school memories for me. Afterwards I returned to the studio to work in front of the easel, where I am most comfortable. I really do love painting. Life has worked out for me in this regard: fifteen years ago at my own high school graduation I wanted to be an artist, and today that's what I do. 

This is one of the palettes I have going on right now. It is for a painting that I am very excited about and I will reveal the finished painting hopefully on Friday, June 1st. 

These are my favorite tools. Without them I would not know where to start working. I have a cool story to share about my favorite palette knife: When I was in college, I worked for an artist named Linda Curley Christensen. She was the head artist and I was her assistant, and together we painted ten murals over a two year period (thereabouts) that are installed in LDS temples around the world. One of my main jobs was to mix colors for Linda's palette. When you're working on a 16x20" painting one doesn't need to spend a lot of time mixing the paint, but when you are working on a 6' x 15' (thereabouts) mural, you can spend an entire day mixing paint colors you need and never ever get to the actual painting part. I got really good at mixing enormous piles of paint and matching colors exactly. I used the same palette knife every day. I even named it "Ol' Trusty." I know, corny. One day after months and months of murals and murals, the knife had been worn down so thin from use that it finally died. The metal mixing blade just snapped in two. I looked at it from the side and couldn't believe how worn down I had made the knife. That, my friends, is a lot of mixing. 

Why be an artist with an art studio behind your house if you can't go to work in your slippers? If I'm not painting in slippers, I'm painting in my Chacos (best shoes ever). 

I worked all (and I mean all) day last Saturday. Ten hours of painting. Thankfully it was cloudy, windy, and generally the perfect weather to cozy up in the lit studio and work away with the music on. It's really hard for me though to work long days inside when the weather is gorgeous and I can see it out my windows. 

I live a few blocks away from an outdoor swimming pool that is up the hill. The sound carries to my backyard pretty well and I can hear kids jumping off the diving board. I admit, if I could, I'd go to the pool every single day with a book and a packed lunch. I will have to see if I can work some serious pool-time into my summer this year. Mom, I'll wear sunscreen. 

This light is brand spankin' new and I love it. It makes me so happy to see it all lit up and saying hi when I look up from painting. It doesn't do much except look pretty, but that's OK. I have other lights for painting. Thank you Matt for hanging it for me when you had other work to do in your office. 

This is another project I have on the easel right now. At my last art show I received a commission to paint a 35 x 52" version of Cinderella, a painting that was already sold at the show. This is that 35 x 52" commission in progress. I am so excited about painting this reference again. 

May 25, 2012


11 x 23" original oil
just sold

When I woke up this morning and ran some errands, the maple trees looked so pretty. This whole day has been cloudy and kind of dark. I love leafy trees under stormy skies when the wind blows the leaves back to show the pale underside. It looks so moody and atmospheric. Light just does amazing things outside. I am one of those people that like the extremes when it comes to light. I like high contrast sunlight like in Barefoot but I also really enjoy low-key stormy days like today. 

I remember the weather last month on the day I shot the picture I used for this painting. It was one of those hot April days with blue skies and chirping birds. The grass was green and soft and I just wanted to take off my Chacos and walk barefoot through the gardens. When I look at this painting, I remember the smell of the grass and fresh mulch in the flower beds. The sun was so warm and right overhead. 

At my last art show, an art collector remarked that they loved how in my paintings, something fleeting is preserved. Tulips last only a few weeks here in Utah, but they love that through my art they can buy a painting and enjoy the tulips all year long. They thought that was something that made my paintings special. It was a neat point of view and I appreciated them sharing it with me. 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Enjoy yourselves, soak up that sun, and walk barefoot through some grass! -Cristall

Please leave your comments. 

May 22, 2012

Four Who Made a Difference

There are four people who have made a huge difference in my art life. They are my high school art teacher, my mom and dad, and my husband. I'd like to tell you a little bit about each of them and how they've made a difference.

This is a picture of my high school art teacher, Ms. McCord, with me at my high school graduation. I had her in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade Drawing and Painting classes. We learned how to use charcoal, colored pencil, pastel, graphite, acrylics and watercolors. I still remember the slide show during art lessons one day where I saw my first J.M.W. Turner seascape painting and Ms. McCord said that "he painted ahead of his time." He is one of my favorite artists, and I know it's because of Ms. McCord. I remember her demonstrations of how to shade and blend colored pencils so that you could make new colors, a lesson I still use today with paint.
She may have turned a blind eye (or two) when my classmates and I would use the art classroom at odd hours of the morning and afternoon to paint and complete projects, but besides playing on the volleyball court, there was no place I'd rather be in the whole high school than the art room (ok...maybe the math room but only because I was a bit of a math geek as well as an art geek). I loved the smell of years and years of paint the room had lived through. That is where it all began for me as a painter.
Ms. McCord also suggested I study art in college and major in painting, which I thought was a great idea and that is exactly what I did. After high school graduation our paths forked, but years later she came to my wedding. Many years after that we corresponded through a few Christmas cards. I value the link I have with her to the beginning of my life as an artist.

This is a picture of my mom and dad. They had artwork hanging in our house and were, in my mind, supporters of the arts in that way. They bought me art supplies for birthdays and Christmases and tolerated a lot of art projects in my room. My junior year of high school, I commandeered the family card table and set up shop in my room complete with a light hanging precariously from my armoire. (Not long after I got a drafting table and clip-on table-top light.) They didn't freak out when I decided to major in art in college. They flew out to Utah for my college graduation. They even bought some of my paints after I was married and before I started making money doing art. I still have the very first paintbrush my mom and dad bought me from a Michael's Craft Store my sophomore year of high school. I don't use it because it's worn out, but it lives in my studio in my brush jar. 

My parents recently visited me out in Utah and they brought me this plate I made when I was three or four. It's in a shadow box with a little plaque that says "Who Would Have Guessed?". ha ha ha. See what kind of artist I was as a kid? Look at that sense of balance, wow. Apparently I was blonde, too. 

Nestled on my bookshelf in my studio is the box of Prismacolor colored pencils my parents bought for me in high school. I remember so many high school projects using these, and how fortunate I was once I started my college art program that I had such a nice set. My parents were so encouraging when I was a kid who loved art, and they are now some of my greatest cheerleaders as I am becoming a professional artist. It's been a nice circle to make. 

This is a photograph (of a photograph) of my husband that I keep in my studio. Matt is just the best spouse an artist could ask for. When we were first married and I told him we'd need to find a two-bedroom apartment so that I could have space to paint, he didn't fuss over the added expense but got right on board. Now we have a house and I have a huge studio behind our house that he helped build.

These are pictures of one of the first easels Matt built me. He drilled little holes (bottom picture) for my brushes to sit in. When I first got my website, I wrote the link right onto my easel. I scribbled artists/song titles from the radio that I wanted to remember for some reason or another. There are so many paintings in this easel, and he made it just for me. 

In his crazy, busy wood-shop, he is usually juggling multiple projects for clients. Besides his normal job, he takes extra time to build the panels that I paint on. I will let him know that I need a 35x52" panel for a commission and he will cut the masonite to size, I paint the back red, he builds a frame onto the back of the panel, routes and sands the edges, and I gesso the surface. I've recently begun to appreciate more his emotional support of my life as an artist. He truly is proud of me and what I've worked hard to accomplish. We are a good team. I really don't know what I'd do without him. 

Ms. McCord, Mom, Dad, and Matt: THANKS AND I LOVE YOU.

May 19, 2012

Zions Bank Art Show

Tonight was a great art show. Thank you to everybody who made it out to encourage and support me. What a thrill to have worked so hard this Spring creating new paintings, then see them sell and go to collectors. All of my paintings but one sold tonight. I am filled with gratefulness, joy and peace.

I had many people ask tonight how they can be the first to see my new paintings and have a chance to purchase them. The answer is to follow this blog and check it often. The day I finish a painting it is photographed and posted here on this blog. I also add it to my website portfolio. My contact information is listed on my website here.

I am ready to get to work on new paintings and look forward to seeing many of you at my next show. Check this page on my website for details on when my next show will be.

May 12, 2012


19 x 34" original oil

Blushers took a while to paint but is a real visual treat for the same reason: each blossom has slightly different coloring. I mix all of my own colors so a painting like this with subtle color changes makes it take longer to finish. I love the sense of the sun at your back and the crowded scene of pale to deep colored tulips. This is one of my favorite color palettes to work in.

Here is a detail of my favorite area. 

Here is that same area in-progress. 

I paint differently than most artists. I assemble my paintings like puzzles, working on small areas at a time until they are done. It might be weird, but it works for my tulip-style. 

I wrapped and delivered three tulip paintings to my Salt Lake gallery this week. These three pieces will be in Alpine Art's Spring Exhibition May and June.

May 7, 2012


20 x 33" original oil

This is a detail of my favorite part of the painting. I think it would make a fine painting all on it's own. 

I have to say, I am exhausted. I could take a nap for three days. I also need a new painting that is more back-friendly. Can you believe all that is going on in this painting? Lots and lots of shapes. It makes me want to do a jigsaw puzzle (one of my favorite activities ever). The weather has been cool and very windy. I haven't been out to the tulip gardens in a few days, but the tulips are pretty much done. It feels good to have a hard drive full of new reference photos. I am so excited to paint what I shot this year. It is like having a pantry full of food after grocery shopping. You just want to look at it all lined up on the shelves, and you're excited to cook. 

May 2, 2012

Cinderella: Part I

(an area of my painting palette)

(a close-up of the top area I worked on)

I've begun work on Cinderella. I am painting in the blurry background and it's very nice to work so loosely. It will be a nice contrast in the finished painting with the sharp foreground. 
This year at the Tulip Festival, there were a lot of these ball-shaped tulips that opened up to look like peonies. The closed buds made me think of a ball, which made me think of a dance/ball which made me think of Cinderella, thus the title. 
There is a lot going on in this painting and all of the narrow and wide brushstrokes catching the light at different angles feels right. That to me is when the surface comes alive and that is one reason I enjoy being a painter.