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Artist Bio

Christine Girvani O'Brien

Christine studied Fine Art at Prahan College of Advanced Education in Melbourne, Australia.  She majored in Painting and soon after traveled to the United States where she settled in Upstate New York.  She worked as an in-house artist doing painting, illustration and graphic design for a non-profit organization that taught meditation and yoga worldwide.  This work enabled her to travel abroad to various countries where she was exposed to the arts of many cultures - much to her delight.  In addition to this she freelanced for Ralph Lauren, New York as a fabric designer.  In the beginning of 2005, her love of nature drew her to California's natural and rugged beauty where she is continuing to paint in the local area.  She is a member of Santa Barbara Studio Artists and has exhibited both locally as well as in New York, Atlanta and Melbourne, Australia. 

In recent years she began devoting all of her time to her oil painting on canvas, focusing on her love of nature - flowers and natural forms, with their diverse, exquisite shapes and textures. 

This is something very familiar to her as her painting of nature began at a very young age in Australia.  Christine's painting is also very much inspired by her practice of meditation, as she says that the light and happiness within, when tapped, can then be expressed in the external world.

Coupled with her close-ups of nature, she draws on all she absorbed of the international arts during her travels with her Family Heritage Portrait paintings.  These paintings depict people in period costume in a landscape of their country of origin, heritage or a country that they love.  This idea arose in the beginning of 2006 while painting Through the Persian Windows for a family in Westchester, New York.  Christine has a close connection with the family as she introduced the couple to each other.  Many years later, she had the opportunity to paint their daughters in a scene of ancient Persian art at the request of the parents. 

"I realized how important it is for people to connect with their roots.  Many of us were not born in our Country of Origin and when we visit that place we often find that we feel more at home there than our present abode.  In some cases, there is very little connection to that land at all as our current culture may be so foreign to it.  Some of us may even feel the desire to reject our past Country of Origin entirely.  Whichever the case may be, the Family Heritage Portrait Painting provides an opportunity for us to explore, respect, accept and celebrate where we came from.  In so doing, we can feel more in touch with the power of who we are in the present moment, allowing us to move forward, fulfilling our life's purpose with a rich sense of self through seeing our own uniqueness and beauty.  And very importantly.........it puts people in touch with their love and gratitude for their ancestors and all that has gone before them.  The painting can then be a family heirloom for future generations.

Alternately, we may have always resonated with another country or culture that is not connected to our bloodline at all, but it feels like home to us.  We may love the arts, architecture, land and people of that place and would love to be a part of it. 

I find that painting these portraits satisfies my love and longing to learn more about the arts in the many wonderful, different cultures in the world.  This happens through talking to the client about their heritage, their current life, and what is important to them, and also through my own research.  My intention is to offer people a journey of discovery and the chance to celebrate who they are, honoring themselves and their family. 

After the painting is completed and hung, I design an event that I call a celebration gathering of the client's family and friends (if they so wish) that is in accordance with that particular culture.  It includes food, music, stories and/or poetry and dances (if they know them) from that culture.  Plus, any stories that the family would like to share about their ancestors.  I love to play music on my flute with that particular cultural flavor during the gathering.  This all becomes a celebration of the life of the people in the painting, allowing them to be absorbed in that culture and time."

Christine is currently doing a Family Heritage Portrait Painting for a family who live both in Bolivia and Santa Barbara.  The clients are water activists in Bolivia and the painting is of their one year old baby surrounded by scenes and symbols that are meaningful to them.  In addition, she is beginning the research for paintings for families in San Francisco, Florida and Alaska.

She can be contacted at:  805-705-8622 or email: christinegirvaniobrien@yahoo.com.