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Wilkes Has Talent: Christie Younger

May 19, 2022 at 03:46 PM

Christie Younger in front of one of her works. Wilkes Has Talent: Christie Younger


If you’ve wandered up and down 10th Street in North Wilkesboro lately, you’ve probably happened upon the new art studio that serves as a work space for Christie Younger. A native North Carolinian, Christie is an internationally collected artist with paintings in galleries across the country. She has been featured multiple times on HGTV, and has received national recognition for her art.


Christie creates magnificent artwork that’s full of contrasts between light and dark, order and chaos, and negative and positive space. Inspired by the Impressionists and the natural world, her highly textural art brings to life beautiful images and allows her unique creativity to show through.


We had the opportunity to sit down with Christie and learn more about her art, her passions and her connections to Wilkesboro.


How did you find your career as an artist?

There were many contributions throughout my life that allowed me to be where I am now. As far as formal training goes, it too has occurred over my entire lifetime. I’ve taken art classes in many different disciplines throughout my life from childhood, in high school, and classes in college while also obtaining a degree in biology at Appalachian State University. Despite not pursuing a career in biology, it has definitely influenced my art. After graduation I used my lifetime of art instruction and self-driven research to fuel a short career in marketing and graphic design. Then I went back to school at Appalachian State for graphic design and took more fine arts classes such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and art histories, but never finished officially. Enter marriage and children… I never set out to be a professional artist but knew there was something more for my life and I’ve always been creative. After much prayer and finally listening, I picked up a brush and haven’t looked back.

Christie Younger Purple Flowers

Where do you find your inspiration?

You only have to look at a few of my paintings to realize that I get a lot of inspiration from color, light, and the natural world. I love being outside. I come from an adventurous and well-traveled family which has allowed me to experience different cultures and see many different places. I’ve seen the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, David, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, the Pantheon in Rome, the glass blowers in Murano, Van Gogh’s, Picasso’s, Monet’s… so much art. I’ve hiked through fields of wildflowers in Montana, seen sunrises from Sailboats in the Bahamas and Caribbean, and watched Eagle Rays swim below me in Belize. I’ve lived on farms, in woods, on mountains, and at beaches. All of these experiences and more have influenced me.


I’m definitely happiest when I’m out in the sunlight, surrounded by flowers, my animals, my family, and all of the beauty in our world. Probably one of my happiest places is being in the middle of a field or in a garden. I think I bring that feeling subconsciously to my paintings.


My faith also plays a crucial role. I can assure you that I wouldn’t be doing what I do without it.


How would you describe your technique?

I use many tools but the main tools I use are a few palette knives, gnarly and mangled brushes, sometimes a screw driver, some oil paints, and a number 2 pencil. I lay down several under layers with a brush and begin building more layers with a palette knife. Then I scratch into the paint with sharp objects such as a screw driver to reveal the paint underneath followed by a pencil. This particular technique is commonly used in ceramics and is known as Sgraffito. My paintings are thick, raw, energetic, calming, and a big beautiful mess, especially when you get close. I am a big proponent of finding beauty in imperfection aka Wabi Sabi.


My style came about in a very organic way, a reliance on intuition and hope, which is how I continue to approach each new painting. When I first started and like many painters, I only used a brush. I became frustrated by this unoriginal way of painting. One day I rummaged through my kitchen drawers and found a cake icing spatula. The rest is history.


Who do you admire most in the art world?

I have always been drawn to the Impressionists and their intent to depict light. One of my favorites is Monet. I hate to sound cliché but I can’t help but be inspired by him in particular. When I was in London, I had the opportunity to see Monet’s “Water Lilies” at the National Gallery. I loved being able to get up close, and when I did, I saw a little brush bristle stuck in the paint. It was thrilling to me, to see that and have this realization that another human being created that beautiful work of art. I could imagine Monet painting, and it made him more relatable to me in that moment.


There are many other artists who I admire but it is also important to me to draw inspiration from my own personal experiences to muster up as much personal creativity and apply it towards original work.


What makes Wilkesboro a welcoming place for artists?

This is just such a supportive community. This is my husband’s hometown. We moved here about a year ago from Raleigh to be near family and raise our children in a small town environment. I found it was just so easy to connect with the community; amazing family, friends, church, school, and small businesses that we get to interact with weekly if not daily. I’m always running into someone I know and I absolutely love it.


I’ve got a studio in town, and a few of my paintings are available locally at Taupe Gallery. The owners, Jim Lyall and Steve Key, have been so encouraging and have helped introduce my work to local people. Ashley Barton at the Wilkes Art Gallery has been very supportive as well. The whole community is so warm and welcoming and there are many patrons of the arts here. It’s just an encouraging place to create.


You can find a link to where Christie Younger’s paintings are shown and sold here.