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DAC: How did you get started with art?

Celeste: When I was younger, my mom always had art projects for my sisters and I to keep us occupied while she was taking care of the home. We always had new art materials in our hands and she always encouraged us to use our imaginations. She also filled our time by reading allegorical tales to us which began igniting my imagination. I would constantly be thinking of characters and expanding upon their adventures. Those characters would also carry through during our playtime in the forest while growing up in Washington.

What type of media do you use? What’s your favorite and why?

I’ve always been experimental since that was ingrained in my artistic journey since childhood. I was never told to use one tool and create one look so I always thought it was natural to explore multiple options. When I started to become serious with painting, I was around 14 years old. I started using acrylics and I spent most of my time recreating artist’s work that I admired.

I was lucky during the last two years of high school to attend a vocational college prep class for desktop publishing from 1992-1994. This class was located at another high school where other students attended who were more developed in the arts. It was as if I started Art College early and it encouraged the idea that I could create a career in art and design. I got my hands on pens and pencils that were more technical, gouache, watercolors and we were taught how to create typography. This was also the first time I had access to a Macintosh Quadra 900 which was a game changer for me. I was finally able to take my art, scan it in and manipulate it in Adobe Photoshop. I also learned how to use Adobe Illustrator and Quark Express so my work started to blend traditional and technical art and design.

When I attended Cornish College of the Arts, I started returning to traditional art mediums and developed my drawing skills and started playing with oils. I primarily love working in oils but they are incredibly time consuming. Lately I have been using Faber-Castell markers and watercolors to create my current series called Mythical Creatures.

What is the most challenging part creating art and what’s the best part?

The most challenging part is finding time to allow myself to become inspired. However, I am lucky to have a very playful, creative and imaginative family of my own so there are times when those moments happen easily. Most of my strong concepts come to me when I remove myself from my responsibilities and take time to explore nature. This usually happens during our camping or backpacking adventures. I keep a book of concepts close by so I can keep adding to it because there are moments when you have a “creative dry spell.” That is when I return to those books and grab an idea I wasn’t able to create.

The reason I keep creating is that moment when a piece is finished. The process of getting to that final point is difficult and there have been so many times I have trashed artwork. But the ones that I eventually hang have a long creative journey, with ups and downs. In the end it’s a unique piece that I can share with the community.

How would you describe your style?

That is a tough question. My style shifts often depending on my interest. When I attended Cornish, I went into Illustration since that offered me more flexibility in style. I primarily started with a strong influence from Salvador Dalí. A majority of my work from age 16-32 was very surreal. I also started playing with creating abstract human forms for a few years since I wanted to challenge myself on creating emotion with only shapes and colors. This was a welcomed break from the highly demanding surreal paintings and it opened up another style to invite other art patrons.

Currently I am working on my Mythical Creatures which is returning to my technical drawing of surreal characters. The majority of these creatures are animals showcased in elaborate headdresses or armor to present them in a regal or shamanistic perspective. I have also been creating anthropomorphic bees which has been a delight to create since they are incredibly playful.

What is the artist community like at the DAC?

I have discovered there is an artist community at the DAC. I have been fortunate to meet a few members, staff and trainers who have artistic interests and skills. I have also enjoyed offering a few painting events at The DAC and other local businesses where I was able to share what I have learned on watercolor and acrylic techniques. I would love to see more of an artist community grow where artists can share current works and receive critics or share what mediums they are using and what is working for them.

DAC Member Rachel Dow and friend at Celeste’s Watercolor Painting Class hosted in the Sunset Room

Why did you join the DAC?

We joined The DAC when we moved to Eugene since it had so much to offer our family. We enjoy the indoor pool, where our daughter learned how to swim. We recently had her on the swim team and look forward to joining again in the fall. She also attended Newberry when she was younger. Having a large indoor area for her to play in
during winter was also a huge advantage over other daycare centers.

My husband and I often attend DAC Fit, where the trainers always take the time to correct postures if we are doing them incorrectly. I was going consistently to DAC Fit for three years and the trainers actually helped me avoid a surgery by focusing on strength and cardio. I am grateful to them.

Currently I have transitioned to Vinyasa Flow with Jean Nelson. After the class is finished my mind feels as if I just got back from a week-long vacation. She creates an environment where you just focus on your breath and movement. She helps you build your confidence so you can start to modify the poses to create something that works more for your needs. Lately I have been playing with working sumi brush and ink in between Vinyasa flows at my home studio. It’s primarily colors and shapes but it’s been an interesting angle on connecting art with yoga.

Thank you to Celeste for sharing your story. Celeste’s work will be featured alongside pieces from other DAC members in the Library during the August ArtWalk on Friday, August 4 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. We invite you to join us for live music, small bites, wine tasting and a kid’s craft table. More of Celeste’s work is available at

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