The Artists: Christy Gurley |

The Artists: Christy Gurley

What is your career and job title? Artist, photographer.

Describe your art in a sentence or two. My artwork is pretty tough to characterize. Most people say they’ve never seen anything like it. Using vibrant colors with metallics or iridescence, I create abstract visions of nature and space. On some paintings, I use a new technique where I set the top on fire with a blowtorch. It actually seems to brighten the colors and make them sparkle permanently. (Don’t try this at home!)

How long have you been working in this discipline? I started painting a few years ago as physical therapy after an accident. People wanted to buy the paintings right away, and then I started getting juried into shows and art groups. It’s just grown from there.

What do you hope to accomplish? I don’t think that anyone in a creative field should focus on that word. Art is very subjective, and your “acceptance” always depends on an individual’s personal taste. I’ve been very lucky with commissions, art memberships and a People’s Choice Award. But the most rewarding thing is when someone decides to make your art a part of their home.

Do you create your art with an exact message you want the viewer to receive, and if yes, what is that message? No, although I do often hide pictures inside the paintings. With photography, you have a different kind of opportunity to share some of the beautiful places you’ve seen around the world with others who haven’t yet had that chance. Or you can capture an image to remind someone of a place they’ve been or only imagined.

Where do you want to be with your art, in terms of part-time versus full-time status, art positions and where your works are seen? I was recently juried into the San Diego Museum of Art Artists’ Guild. This means that my paintings will be on the walls in the same building as masters, including Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rubens! Right now, I can’t envision anything more exciting than that.

What kind of special training did you take? If not, how did you learn the art techniques or processes? I don’t have art training. Maybe it’s a good thing, because I didn’t learn a “right” and “wrong” way to do things. What I do have is a degree in science, which is where I get most of my inspiration for paintings. The ocean, outer space and the microscopic world offer endless ideas for art. My travels through the United States, Australia and Europe gave me lots of images that I wanted to share with other people through photographs.

What’s your favorite part of your endeavors? That I’ve kept my favorite painting (“Leucosolenia”) and I get to enjoy it every day.

What’s your least favorite part of your endeavors? Definitely the blowtorch.

How many hours a day or, if more appropriate, a week do you spend on your work? Much preparation is done before I ever put anything down on paper or canvas. Artists get inspiration from things all around them; it’s really a continual process.

Do you consider it hard work, and could anyone do it? Yes, there is a lot of difficulty in being an artist. I don’t think people should harbor any illusions about that. But it is also very rewarding. Most people I’ve met are a lot more creative than they give themselves credit for, and I encourage them to exercise that creativity! Art is not a luxury, but something that brings enrichment to your life every day.

Christy Gurley recently moved here from San Diego. Her first showing in Nevada County was during last weekend’s Artwalk at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center.

Her small art works, photography, greeting cards and jewelry are at From The Heart in Grass Valley. To visit her Lake Wildwood studio, call 432-0790 for an appointment.

“The Artists” appears each Friday. To suggest a person to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.

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