It could be a gesture, or the surprising weave of colors in your skin or the way a gentle light defines your face that captures me. I may hear what you are saying, but I’m probably already wishing I could paint you so that I can experience what I find so beautiful and elusive.

I have been watching the magical process of making people come alive on canvas as early as I can remember: my dad was an illustrator; and my mother was a highly sought after model. My studies continued at the High School of Music and Art, Queens College and the University of Michigan, as well as workshops with Daniel Greene, Andrew Lattimore, Joe Paquet and figurative sculptor, Richard McDermott Miller. I have worked as a storyboard artist, sculptor’s assistant, educator, illustrator of children’s books and portrait artist for over 30 years.


I enjoy the exacting demands of painting portraits. My ink portraits are monochromatic. Mostly. Working with small brushes and many layers of lightly tinted ink, I develop value and form with a caressing luminosity that is ethereal and unique.


In contrast, my figure drawings in charcoal are earthy, passionate and expressive. There’s a sort of yoga to my approach. On one hand, I believe in standing on the shoulders of giants, mastering classical technique and submitting to a disciplined study of the model. On the other hand, I believe in honoring one’s unique point of view and impulse. I love giving way to the ephemeral and impressionable nature of charcoal; and it returns the favor as the sweep of a thumb magically reveals a cheekbone. Honoring both solid drawing skills and expression produces a good stretch and rewarding work. 


I love sculpture for making me think with my hands. And most recently, I am exploring the challenge of landscape painting, which calls upon me to give way to all the things that are not in my control (weather and bugs) and listen deeply to Mother Earth.


The best pieces are always the ones that appear with something unexpected. When at work, I am always listening with my heart, tracking the spirit animating every object, following a gesture and energy that lead to a unique and unexpected vista. The void is a powerful partner. I enter it consciously, respectfully, seeking to engage, converse and dance with it. 


When am I finished? A piece is done when it breathes on its own. This often calls on me to embrace the imperfections generated in the mess of living. I want to feel all the forces--seen and unseen--shaping my model, every reminder that this moment is precious and fleeting.  

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© 2020 by Chrissanth 

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