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Check Out Christie Neale’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christie Neale.

Hi Christie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
For years I struggled to find my voice as an artist. Other artists that I considered successful had a particular style that was uniquely their own. Mine was waiting to be uncovered once I put down my pre-determinations of what it should be. It took me years to realize it wasn’t so much about creating some masterpiece as it was about living a life of creative expression. With this revelation I set out on an unknown path and began teaching oil painting lessons to Veterans suffering with PTSD. Creative expression requires a great deal of vulnerability and most of the veterans found it difficult having lost their trust in life. I was asking them to let go and open up, yet I couldn’t do so myself. As an exercise in surrender, I decided to work in a medium I knew absolutely nothing about that was volatile and uncontrollable – resin. The next thing I knew I was wearing a hazmat, respirator and holding a blow torch in my garage. It was like a daily science experiment applying fire and extreme heat to the resin which created chemical reactions.

I started entering my “experiments” into various art shows and shared on social media. I was so unsure of myself that I actually called to verify my acceptance into an exhibit, certain they had made a mistake and confused my portfolio with someone else’s. One of my first exciting experiences was when my work was chosen for the Milan Gallery’s Artist Discovery show. This was a gallery I had admired for 20 years in downtown Ft. Worth. Having my art on exhibit alongside my favorite local artist, Henrietta Milan, was a dream come true. Shortly thereafter, I had pieces represented by the Leigh Gallery in Chicago and, to my surprise, had an income doing what I loved. Later, I was contacted by Chris Hightower, Director of the Arlington Museum of Art, to be part of a two month exhibit. Tal Milan of The Milan Art Gallery was looking for a contemporary artist to showcase in the new Aloft Hotel lobby and bar in downtown Fort Worth. What was meant to be a month long show, turned into a two year exhibit. Currently, I am looking into opening my own gallery in Fort Worth. My goal is to represent local artists and provide art therapy classes hosted by my soon-to-be TCU graduate daughter.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The artist’s path has never been a smooth road, but it’s not meant to be as creativity arises from hardship. For every artist or writer whose work is well received, there is someone equally gifted whose work may never reach us. I felt unworthy of calling myself an artist for years. It’s a phenomenon most artists experience – this great fear of claiming a title that we feel somehow isn’t rightfully ours. We waste so much time waiting for someone else to grant us permission to call ourselves what we already know we are. I encourage other artists and creatives to brave their way on knowing they are a blessing waiting to be discovered by themselves.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Working with resin is not for the faint of heart. It requires a hazmat suit, full face respirator, gloves, a 1200 degree heat gun and blow torch. Working in my studio in the Texas heat has been an adventure. There have been times I almost passed out from heat exhaustion. It is worth the risk as the end result is always a surprise. Each time I must practice the art of acceptance. It never becomes what I want it to be. It becomes what it is meant to be and part of my process is to find the beauty in what is. I use the highest quality epoxy resin, Art Resin, which is non-toxic, VOC free and UV resistant. Art Resin is chemically engineered and will not yellow over time like other products. I do not use acrylic craft paint. I use mica powders and pigments used by special effects companies. My wood panels are custom made by a family-owned business in Texas.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success to me would be defined as complete acceptance of who you are in this very moment. We often enshrine our dreams and goals as an end point: ‘I’m going to do everything in my power to make this dream come true.’ While our dreams and ambitions are great tools, they’re not destinations. I now consider dreaming and creating a process, not an end point. I think one reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we focus on what is great and powerful. We work so hard to arrive at some destination that we often forget that though some satisfaction may be waiting at the end of our endeavor, there is a great deal of beauty to be found in the steps along the way.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Julie Jung, Instagram @_juliejung Alicia Wells, www.alitexas.com

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