The artist, Christine Green, self-portrait with work display (above).
Art can be a vital voice in the dark for people, allowing them to gather thoughts and images related to mental health, and well-being, or just creating for political reasons, personal reasons, or passion. I (personally) love creating when I'm most passionate about something, and it's like 'writer's block' the rest of the time. If there is one thing about creating art that is understood, it is that there are so many ways that art can be multi-dimensional, transitional, and work across barriers (privilege, political, mental) in uncertain times. When the supplies, privileges, and budgets are taken away, people will always find new and more unique and amazing ways to create art. Art transcends. Art finds a way. Art is vital.
One of my earliest memories of spending time with my Aunt Christine (Green) and Uncle Bruce was working with clay at their home in Micanopy, Florida (just outside of Gainseville), where she and her long-time partner and husband are based. It was a simple joy: being able to mold something out of a huge block of wet clay and then, create something new out of it that I could create-destroy-and then create again, starting all over with the clay.
Christine Green and Bruce Green have been creating and selling their hand-crafted and glazed pottery for decades (since the '60s) and have always found new and innovative ways to progress their art skills and their partnership in crafting or adjusting with new techniques, textures and patterns for their products. Their original art was based mostly on pottery and ceramics, but in more recent years, they have progressed to glass, and are currently printmaking on metal for their art.
Christine and Bruce market their work at juried art shows throughout the South and Midwest. Their exhibits feature 2D metal art in sizes ranging from 5 inches to 40 inches. The Greens come home between sprints to art fairs across the U.S., to create again, and then they head back out on the road.
They have this down to a science as if they were their own band on tour: create the merch, pack the van, travel to their first tour date, unload, setup, and play (sell art)! Then do it all over again.
This past year, travel adjustments came in to play amidst difficult weather conditions, some health issues, and then, the pandemic occurred. The artists that follow these artist shows are dedicated to their work although the pandemic has now curtailed their business livelihood.
Similar to musicians and venues, who have followed a way of living that has included touring, creating and selling music, and traveling throughout the year, artists have suddenly had their very livelihood swept out from underneath them while they watched. Art fairs, in-person shows, and travel canceled or shut-down.... artists and musicians across the world have had to contend with finding new and innovative ways to be sure that their work was able to be seen, heard, and hopefully still work amid it all (and transcend this disaster in various unique ways--both politically and personally).
I recently had a conversation about art and the creative process behind Vitrene (their company name) with Green and found out how they are working in such different circumstances while being innovative as the World changes before our very eyes.
More on my interview with Christine Green, below, and a brand new Spotify playlist can also be found here: https://open.spotify.
Example of print on metal, one of Christine's pieces of artwork (above).
Carly: How long have you been an artist? What can you tell me about your creative process over the years with your husband and partner Bruce Green?
Christine Green: During my childhood and teen years I found solace in painting and other kinds of crafts although piano playing really channeled my emotions through music. It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I began making products for the beach shops in Florida. They were successful, making a lot, and then I decided to move to Florida to be closer to the shops, and also: it was a cool place to live. After a few years, I met my husband, your Uncle Bruce, and began work in his pottery studio.
I have always worked on an emotional intuitive level with my visual sensitivities following the intuition. I have had training in several different art areas, including home decor and color theory, and always identified with the interior prospectives artists have. I loved art history and still do. I could read or listen [to them] all day (about their lives and techniques).
When I started painting on pottery I began using Chinese horsehair brushes and mastered slinging the brush over the dry glazed ceramic surface, and established a great flow with the ceramic glazes.
I developed my own way of painting with Bruce (ever helpful with encouragement and enthusiasm for different glaze experiments). We enjoyed what we could do together to make classic shapes and forms with beautiful glaze finishes.
Carly: You both originally created pottery items and have now moved on to glass items. What prompted the move, and how do you think this has impacted your work?
Christine: Over the years the labor of working with clay became hard for us and we wanted to use our knowledge and skills differently. We became interested in painting and printing our [body/patterns] to work on glass. We liked how the glass surface had depth and showed off the glazed pictures. However working with glass is very laborious with cutting the glass, edging it, painting the back to adhere to the printmaking... It was also very heavy. Bruce was cutting, sanding, and painting cedarwood frames for smaller glass pieces. So we naturally migrated to vapor printing new work onto aluminum. We love the brilliance of the colors on the metal. The metal lasts years in an environment, is lightweight, and fun to print on. Learning new mediums or techniques has always been part of what we do.
We enjoy experimenting. It keeps us fresh and excited about the possibilities of what we can create in new ways with our extensive knowledge base.
Carly: What is your design process like and how do you create the artwork that ends up on your pieces (what informs your color choices)?
Christine: When I choose colors they must make sense to me visually. It’s also about shape and form. As I move the colors around they take on their own life and inform me [as to] which colors they would like to harmonize with. It may sound strange but the colors do the 'talking' and I follow their lead. If it doesn’t please my eyes, though, I won’t use it.
Carly: What other kinds of pieces do you create and what is your favorite piece?
Christine: Currently the two categories I work in are Flowers and Abstract. Flowers are so expressive and I do not paint realistically but I abstract the elements that speak to me with their colors or shapes. Also their essences; whether playful, joyous or whimsical, sometimes sardonic.
The abstract pieces are magical flowing rivers, gems, canyons, mists, and other imaginative visions that I can express with the liquids I use.
Four of the decorative ceramic cork-backed coasters we have in the shop for sale (above).
Carly: What can you tell us about why you chose to create your decorative ceramic tiles?
Christine: When we were making pottery we began making our own tiles. As I mentioned before we had many years to try different ceramic endeavors and tile making was one. We received several special commissions to make backsplashes for kitchens and also tile mirrors. People love tiles and when we started making paintings on them they were very popular. It was fun to do. We sold a lot and worked at that 'til we wanted to do something else.
Carly: What are your thoughts on being an artist in the world as it currently is, and what changes do you think you will see for other artists (whom you would normally be seeing more of on a regular basis in your travels) in the way you and they work?
Christine: Being an artist is different for everyone. In this COVID-19 environment artists' livelihoods are threatened for most. We can’t sell in an accustomed way at outdoor fairs. We are handicapped and many are making a great effort to market online. This is a necessity, but most are not doing too well, I think.
Like everything in life, artists must find ways to get through these challenging times. Some will retire, drop out, change professions, ride it out, or find more local opportunities.
Art isn’t going away but how we approach it is going through an evolving sense of what it means to do it (as well as finding the market to sell it in). It’s more about how do we live our lives and make meaning through what we love to do. That’s what most of us are struggling with.
Carly: If you had to choose three albums to pack for a road trip, what would they be?
Christine: For the pure energy we love Manu Chao. Bruce is really into Bob Dylan, especially his new work. I have been listening to compendiums of the 60’s and early 70’s sounds of the era. Especially the Laurel Canyon musicians. Also, I love to listen to Tom Petty when I am getting ready to go sell art.
We love so many of our artist friends and the work they do it wouldn’t be fair to pick just a few. So I will leave it at that! This has been fun to reflect on. I could go on and on. There’s a lot to unpack with our life in the arts!
Ceramic coasters can be purchased here (on our site).
Visit Vitrene online here:
@vitrene8334 (on Instagram)