Christy Michaels Tremblay
as a second language
area of Christy Tremblay's childhood home was always stocked with
art supplies, giving her the opportunity to create every day. She
was also surrounded by music, but her piano playing has fizzled
while her art continues on. Christy was born in Florida but the
family moved to Washington when she was three. After a yearlong
stint in Portland, Christy and family are back in Seattle.
Kind of blue
Family vacations to Hawaii, road trips to California and camping
along the Washington and Oregon coasts all continue to influence
Christy Tremblay's artwork.
"I'm drawn to using blue in many of my paintings," she
said. "Actually, I'm trying to not always use blue because
I seem to always want to use it."
Blues," mixed media on canvas, 36" x 36"
Christy often sees groupings that inspire her to use the same colors
in a painting.
"A lot of colors in nature complement each other naturally,"
she said. "I see the light blue sky next to a tree of green
and gold leaves and I have to paint the colors not the tree,
but the colors."
The color of a vintage door, an Italian stucco finish on a building,
and the curves, lines and textures of a landscape can all induce
Christy to paint. She rarely paints the actual images; it's those
colors, textures and emotions she's interested in.
"Sometimes there's a story behind a painting, but it's more
a story of remembering a memory, emotion or the colors of a place
I visited," she said. "It's as though I re-create a memory
or a story through color and texture.
"I love that my work evokes different feelings for different
people. Depending on someone's experiences, they can interpret a
painting to be meaningful to them in a way that nobody else does."
Though her parents are not artists as far as their jobs are concerned,
Christy's childhood home could have been mistaken for the home of
artists because of the atmosphere her folks created.
Her mother checked out paintings by Mary Cassatt from the local
library. Her father would take paintings Christy and her sisters
made, have them framed and hang them in the house, which made Christy
feel she was good at art.
"Dad was always pointing out things to me, especially in nature,"
she said. "He still gets me to stop and look at the details
or colors of a flower or tree.
mixed media on canvas, 20" x 40"
"My mom writes poetry and has many poems published. She does
a lot of local readings and continues to send out poems for publishing."
During her year in Portland, Christy and her mom collaborated on
a show. The show was titled Vintage Collecting Memories and Christy's
paintings were inspired by her mother's poems, which were also on
Pottery, woodworking and a basic art class were the extent of Christy's
high school art studies. Her main focus was running. A competitive
runner, she went to Northern Arizona University on a scholarship
and competed for four years. She graduated with her degree in elementary
"I didn't take any art classes in college," she said.
"I do remember walking through the art department to my teaching
classes and thinking, 'This is really what I should be doing,' but
for some reason I went in a different direction."
Christy started teaching in Kirkland, Wash. In 1997-98 she lived
in South Korea and taught English as a second language. She traveled
all over South Korea and spent two months in Thailand.
"I absolutely loved Korea the people, the food, the
landscapes. But I returned to Seattle after one year and taught
ESL in the Renton school district," she said. "I met my
husband in 1998 and we moved to Alabama for a year."
That was when Christy began thinking about becoming an artist. She
needed to take credit classes to keep her teaching certificate current,
so she decided to pursue art at Auburn University.
"I really wanted to get my masters in arts, but was told that
I couldn't unless I had a BA in arts," she said. "I went
ahead and enrolled in the art program to get some credits out of
the way for my teaching certificate."
Series, I," mixed media on wood, 24" x 80"
One teacher who really inspired Christy taught a class to help
students uncover their creative process and learn to not work within
"I remember the teacher, an artist in Alabama, said to the
class as we were participating in a critique that my 'style' would
be important to me later and that my work would be a part of a continued
style for me," she said. "That class started me off to
where I am today with my art."
Christy moved to Illinois and continued her studies, taking two
figure-drawing classes at Illinois Central College. She was again
struggling with wanting to get her masters in fine art, but the
same issue kept coming up: she first needed to have a BA in arts.
"As I spoke with the teacher of the figure-drawing classes
she told me, 'If you want to be an artist, then be an artist, take
classes and workshops, and paint.' I took her advice and stopped
getting hung up on needing the degree," she said. "I'm
not at all putting down the importance of the degree in arts, but
in my case this is what worked for me. From her advice I saw myself
as an artist and moved on from there."
Dream," mixed media on canvas, 36" x 36"
Considering herself to be self-taught, Christy works with acrylic
and oil paints, oil bars, chalk, pastels and textured mediums. She
experiments with new mediums and is always open to trying new materials.
Christy recently found out about New York-based artist Joanne Mattera,
who creates encaustic paintings.
While admiring Mattera's richly colored works with layers of wax,
Christy remembers a batik she made as a child that still hangs in
her parents' home.
"I keep thinking of how much I like it and would like to add
wax to my current work," she said.
Claude Monet is also a favorite of Christy's.
"I had a reproduction of his hanging in my room when I was
young," she said. "I saw his original work at the Chicago
Art Museum and cried. The colors and textures and the blurred impressionistic
style influence my work."
Christy will participate in the Kirkland Artist Studio Tour in
May 2006. Her studio is open for visits by appointment and she's
represented by Seattle's Artforte
Putting into words the reasons why she paints is hard for Christy.
It's partly because painting is how she can express her emotions
and ideas. When she's not painting, she's thinking about painting.
Memory," mixed media on canvas, 36" x 24"
"Sometimes I'll wake up in the morning and the first thought
I have is of a certain color I need to add to a painting, or a line
that should be placed in a certain area, or a texture I need to
"And when I am actually in the process of painting, it's peaceful
and everything else has been put on hold. Sometimes it's hard for
me to put down the brush and leave a painting."
Christy also keeps at it because she sees something bigger coming
from it in the future. She's not sure what it is, but she just knows
it's going to happen.
"My dream is to continue to evolve in my creative process
and learn new techniques," she said. "I also envision
one day having my daughter painting beside me in our studio."