C. J. Wells was born in New Mexico of Arikara, Spanish and English ancestry, so her heritage very much reflects the multi-layered legacy of New Mexico. The artist studied at UCLA, Los Angeles City College and Eastern College in Billings, Montana. C. J. Wells creates her pictures in a trance-like state, surrounded by paint and bathed in music. As a painter, her abilities seem boundless. Her portraits of Native Americans reveal a passion for detail and harmonic hues in reds, blues, yellows and purple. Wells applies many layers of paint to reveal the magical luminescence of skin and light. Details such as beaded and feathered headdresses or traditional blankets require many hours of work with a small paint brush. The results are dynamic and enigmatic figures of power and beauty.
C.J. Wells' work is to be found in extensive private and public collections, including the Institute of Native American Art Museum and the Heye Foundation.