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.
- Website: christinesommerville.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @christinesommerville_art
Personal photo: Marc Andrew Stephens