A VISIT WITH CHRISTINE DEBROSKY AT HER STUDIO IN CLARKDALE, AZ
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff, Photos by Christopher Marchetti
This story was featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Describe your studio. The studio is southwestern in style with a small porch area that has curved tiled steps. I have natural north light, two nice display walls, and 10-foot-tall ceilings. It was crucial to have a well-lit work area with the room to work in both pastel and oil at the same. I also wanted a space that would be attractive and welcoming to visitors. The studio is attached to my house, but I have a separate entrance. That way I feel like I’m walking up the steps to go to work.
How does the surrounding environment influence your work? Being in the clear, dazzling light of the high desert has had a big impact on my palette, both with direct sun and the effects of the beautiful blue sky overhead. Where I lived previously, in New York’s Hudson Valley region, there were many gray days, and I painted large bodies of water frequently. There were abundant greens, so I used a cool palette. Here in the Southwest, the earth itself is a range of sherbet colors, and people use bright colors for their homes and outdoor walls. Much of the desert vegetation is in a beautiful range of subtle grays, so it is almost a reversal in palette—warm, colorful backgrounds to the grayed surrounding flora.
What are your favorite scenes to paint in Arizona? My love is architecture and garden subjects, including orchards, vineyards, and the surrounding red rocks. Much to my delight, northern Arizona has a burgeoning wine industry. Along Page Springs Road in the nearby town of Cornville there are many vineyards. Another favorite spot is on the grounds of a nearby church, where there are gardens and natural areas that overlook many rock formations. When I want to paint big open spaces, I go out to Sycamore Canyon northwest of Sedona.
What artists have influenced you? As an impressionist, of course, the giants of the early movement, such as Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot, have influenced me. Also, Edgar Degas, a champion of pastel, and Joaquin Sorolla and his sun-drenched slices of life. Since I now live close to galleries that have a lot of Russian Impressionist paintings, I am learning more about master artists’ work in the genre, and I feel a strong kinship.
What attracts you to landscape painting? Patterns of light and shadow, contrasts of warm and cool colors, and the infinitely varied textures and shapes in the landscape—but mostly, the way that light dances across forms.
What inspires you to paint something? Just opening my eyes on a sunny day and seeing the tangerine color of the sunlight. Observing how it changes as the day wears on, enjoying the rosy late-day hues, and then, finally, watching dusk fall and lights twinkle on. Sometimes life intrudes, but I get to start all over again the next day.
What impresses you about other artists’ works? When they capture the truth of the light in our everyday surroundings and I feel that moment of inspiration coming across in their work. What I also admire greatly is an accomplished handling of a particular media—knowing immediately if it is a watercolor, pastel, or oil painting, as each has its own particular beauty.
Do you listen to music while you work? Absolutely. I find rhythms and movement in the landscape, and sometimes music echoes that. I’m an eclectic listener. I enjoy classical, Latin, rockabilly, ’60’s lounge music, and a lot in between.
If your studio were on fire, what one thing would you save? I have a framed photo of my mom in front of her corner garden. She grew plants from seeds that I brought back from Monet’s garden at Giverny in France.
When you are not painting, what do you enjoy doing? I am a voracious reader. I like to take bike rides, cook, and go on long walks. On the walks, however, I’m painting in my head or seeing new possibilities.
What is one place where people will never find you? I’ve learned to never say never. But the one place where people might not find me is where it is always cloudy and dark.
Where do you like to take people when they visit? I live just outside of Sedona, so there are spectacular red-rock formations everywhere you look. There is also a re-created Mexican village named Tlaquepaque with shops, restaurants, and galleries. People love the name, too.
Featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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