“Art isn’t work…it is passion. It is not a struggle for individuality either…it is war.”
C. J. Wells' battles are fought on canvas. She creates her painting 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 color. The results are dynamic and enigmatic figures of power and beauty.
Wells applies many layers of paint to reveal the magical luminescence of skin and light. The colors are vibrant reds, blues, purples-colors that dance in the light. Details, such as beaded and feathered head-dress or traditional blanket, require many hours of work with a small paint brush.
“To me, a painting should give the viewer some emotional impact…if it doesn’t turn you on, say something to you or offend you in some way, then it is not a good piece.”
Wells was born in New Mexico of Arikara Indian, Spanish and English Ancestry. She studied at UCLA, Los Angeles City College and Eastern College in Billings, Montana. Her work is in extensive private and public collections, including the Institute of Native American Art Museum and the Heye Foundation.