Emerging Artists | Christina C. Kuo

Soulful expressions

Christina C. Kuo, Pilgram, oil, 20 x 20.

Christina C. Kuo, Pilgram, oil, 20 x 20.

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

California artist Christina C. Kuo was born into a family of artists in Taipei, and she showed promising artistic skills as a child, but as an adult, she instead embarked on a successful career in the financial industry. Although she fervently pursued drawing and painting in her spare time, it wasn’t until Kuo saw an exhibition of paintings by artist Jove Wang in 2011 that she seriously reconsidered her career aspirations. “That’s the day that changed my life,” she says. “He used just a few brush strokes to portray the entire face, and I thought, ‘Who is this person?’”

Soon after that momentous day, Kuo sought out formal instruction from Wang. Today the full-time artist focuses almost exclusively on her love for portraiture—a forte that has earned her top awards from organizations like Oil Painters of America and the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society. Last fall she garnered the grand prize in the American Women Artists’ national exhibition for PENSIVE, a painting inspired by a photo she snapped in Kazan, Russia, while taking a workshop with Wang. “At workshops, I don’t paint. I go shoot photos,” she chuckles. “The girl in my painting was our Russian-speaking tour guide. She took us to the outskirts of the village, where Jove wanted to do a demo. I was running around shooting interesting views when I found her in the forest, thinking. I loved that moment. I never like posing. Only the moments that will capture people’s hearts are the ones I shoot.”

Always in search of interesting faces to paint, Kuo explores the streets outside her home in Pasadena, CA, with her camera, snapping photographs when someone interesting catches her eye. “It doesn’t have to be a beautiful face,” she says. “It has to inspire me to paint. The eyes are the soul, and the face is all about expression.” With reference photographs in hand, the artist meticulously maps out her compositions in a series of preliminary drawings and color studies. During the painting process itself, however, she is careful not to overwork a scene. “If you paint too much, the freshness is lost, and the magic is gone,” she says. —Kim Agricola

representation
www.christinackuo.com

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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