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Conversations with the Inspiring Christine Sommerville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Sommerville.

Christine, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My love of art and fashion led me to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. I graduated with a B.F.A., majoring in textile/surface design and minoring in English literature. I began building my career in New York, first in the textile industry, and then in the graphic design and advertising world. After some time, I went back to textiles, working for Ralph Lauren Home.

Life had other plans, and I eventually relocated to England to be with my (now) husband. I spent over ten years there, and during that time I became a wife and a mother. While family was my main focus, I took on various interior design projects.

Just over five years ago, my husband was offered a job that brought us to Atlanta. I was pregnant and about to turn 40. As we settled into life here – my husband acclimating to his new role, my son settling in his school, and my daughter toddling around – I felt like it was time to connect with my creativity again. I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in years.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It hasn’t been easy but I have had so much support and opportunities that have made it seem a lot smoother than I first imagined. I have definitely had to overcome some fear and self-doubt. Putting my work out in the world never feels easy, and always feels too personal, like I am baring my soul. But when you connect with another person through art, it’s magic.

An every day struggle for me is balance. I made a conscious decision to step away from full time work to raise my children. Whatever projects I took on in the past had to fit into my family life. Even though I work from my home studio now, I still struggle to find the right balance. I can get lost in the process of creating, and inspiration doesn’t always strike when the kids are at school. I feel guilty if I’m not fully present when my children are home, and I feel frustrated by not being able to paint all day or for days at a time, if the mood strikes.

I also struggle with the conflict between being an artist and being a business. When I create, I want to create as purely and intuitively as I can. I want to be true to the moment I am in. As a business, I want to connect with my market, I want to be relevant, and salable, but I don’t want to be a business in my studio.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am an abstract artist. I mostly work on large scale pieces that are driven by color and movement. I found that my background as a textile designer inhibited the way I painted. I’ve spent these last few years pushing myself in new ways and directions that have freed me from those self-imposed constraints.

I went to art school in New York in the nineties. That world was intimidating. I remember thinking I could never make it as a fine artist, so I found a different path. To see my work in a gallery was a dream come true.

I’d like to think that one day I will be most proud of inspiring someone, maybe my children, who are two of the most creative little souls I know.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
I grew up in Brooklyn, in a big, Italian-American family, with my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors always around. It was as perfect as a childhood could be. Brooklyn was like a small town in the middle of the most amazing city in the world, filled with so much culture and diversity. Being from Brooklyn is something that never leaves you.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal photo: Marc Andrew Stephens

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