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An example of work by C. J. Wells
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|Biography from American Design Ltd.:|
|C.J. Wells uses strong colors and bold compositions in her paintings to
reveal her personal vision of the American Indian of a people torn
between the past and the present. She states, "It's very
difficult to paint without a model, but many of these people come right
out of my head."|
Working out of a studio that is fragrant with
turpentine and linseed oil that she refers to as "my favorite smells,"
she vibrates with the music of Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Mozart, and
produces dramatic oil paintings, lithographs, and monotypes that not
only focus on Indian themes, but on landscapes and portraits as well.
A strong colorist, she uses her palette in an expressive and symbolic
sense, rather than in a representational manner. "I call myself a
'motivist,' " Wells explains, "because my moods and motives are the
real key to understanding my art. When I'm in a dark mood or a
spiritual mood, I paint my warriors in a dark environment. Sometimes my
paintings come from a sense of outrage at injustice, or a sense of
beauty, or some other strong feeling."
Wells is perhaps
best-known for her Warrior Series paintings. She describes the
figures in those paintings as visions, the synthesis of many warriors
from many times: "These figures manifest themselves so strongly from
the mists of time, that I am not aware of anything but the act of
painting, and the revelation of the warrior spirit. C.J. Wells, at that
point, is nonexistent."
The prototypes for the Warrior Series
began with paintings of Navajos, when Wells was working in Los Angeles,
and took a decade to evolve into what they are today. "After the
Navajos," she recalls, "I changed to Plains Indians because they were
more intriguing to me. I felt like they were coming straight from my
soul. I was also trying to convey something very internal that I
couldn't articulate." Yet Wells tired of the work she was doing
and prayed for help -- help to paint something beautiful. "That's when
I started with the yellow eyes and added the white dots," she recounts.
"Then background and skin tones became more translucent."
was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and studied art at UCLA and at
Eastern College in Billings, Montana. Before turning her energies
solely to her art, she explored other avenues -- working with an
architectural firm, writing songs and singing -- but during each of
those experiences, Wells continued to paint in her spare time.
Today Wells has made art her profession, exhibiting her works
throughout the country and earning many awards, including first prize
in the Santa Monica American Indian Art Show and Exhibit, and special
distinction at the Native American Center for the Living Arts in New
York. Her works are in numerous private and public collections,
such as the Institute of American Indian Art Museum in Santa Fe.
paint for forever, not just for today," declares Wells. "I want to be a
great artist. I want people to be proud to say, 'I have a C.J. Wells in
my collection,' I want to do more landscapes, more children, horses,
cowboys -- I want to do everything. I want to die, preferably at an old
age, with a brush in my hand. There's nothing more thrilling to me than
to have a clean white canvas in front of me and to fill it with
|Biography from Cooper's Art Gallery & Brokerage:|
|• Native American Heritage – Arikara|
• Born & Raised in Santa Fe
• Principal works are oil on canvas.
• Studied art at UCLA and Eastern College in Billings.
• C.J. uses strong colors and bold composition in her paintings to
reveal her personal vision of the Native Americans torn between the
past and the present. Her portraits of Native American warriors and
children often depict her subjects with glowing “yellow eyes”
signifying traditional respect for the “holiness of the Earth and
• “The prototypes for the Warrior Series began with paintings of
Navajos when I was working in Los Angeles, and took a decade to evolve
into what they are today. After Navajos, I changed to Plains Indians
because they were more intriguing to me. I felt like they were coming
straight from my soul.”
• Her work has been featured in Taos Magazine, which
observed “Her images have an abstract, timeless quality. Each has an
elegant, aristocratic presence surrounded by mystery and drama.”
• She has also been featured in…
2008 Featured cover artwork for Art-Talk
1991 Southwest Profile (June, July, and August)
1989 Sunstorm Arts Magazine, December, 5-page spread
1987 Southwest Profile, July, 4-page spread
1984 Featured in Architectual Digest
1981 Four Winds(Winter Issue)
1981 Southwest Profile, June, July, August
• Wells spent fourteen years in Scottsdale before returning to Santa Fe in 2001 at the time of her father’s death.
• Her work won First Prize in the Santa Monica American Indian Art
Show & Exhibit. Her work was also given a special distinction at
the Native American Center for the Living Arts in New York.
• Her work is exhibited at the Institute of American Indian Art
Museum, the Scottsdale Symphony, the Native American Center for the
Living Arts, and is a part of significant private collections,
including those of Sylvester Stalone and Robert Redford.
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