by Greta Honsberger
ARTIST CHRISTINA PAPPION discovered her talent and great love for drawing and painting as a child, spending time at her grandparents’ house. One day, her grandfather noticed her boredom and suggested drawing to entertain herself. The idea worked. In her hours of creating, Christina developed a deep passion for drawing because, as she created, time seemed to fly by as visions in her mind came to life on paper; she loved the experience. Her passion for art only grew from there as she began to enter art contests in school and won the competitions. With confidence and a love for creating that motivated her, she began working on her craft.
The pivotal moment she knew she wanted to be an artist came about at Mt. Carmel Academy, where her work was chosen for the Art in Bloom exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art. About that experience, recalls Christina, “I was so excited to see my artwork in the museum. I love art and history, and to see my work in the same building as the greats was so inspiring. I knew that this was where I wanted my work to belong.” Knowing that she
had a gift that she so genuinely wanted to share with others, she went on to the University of New Orleans to study painting.
Armed with a degree in Fine Art, with a specific concentration in studio painting, she began her career as an artist. Early on, she worked for local nonprofits that taught art, including KID smArt and Young Audiences. She also worked at the New Orleans Recreation Department, teaching art in the Teen Division. Although she was teaching art in youth development, her dream was to be an event painter and bring people joy from her work.
Christina explains that as she has evolved as a painter, she recognizes that her method somewhat differs from other painters. She incorporates unconventional methods by using digital components in her paintings. Using the digital component, she enjoys adjusting colors, saturation, and exposure and sees it as a way of taking her artwork to the next level. Christina adds, “ I am a painter first and a digital artist second. I enjoy using them both to convey my artistic message. I think this technique is what makes my creative approach so different and refreshing.”
Christina doesn’t usually choose her subjects. Although the paintings she creates are diverse, she specializes in custom art. Her custom paintings are a collaboration between Christina and her clients as they discuss the plan for their shared vision for the painting. For example, in wedding paintings, a client will say they want certain family members painted, as well as some of the details in the decor that may not be in the room. Christina then creates the people or objects requested and incorporates them into the painting. These additional articles can be almost anything, even if they are not in the same space, such as pets and deceased relatives. Adding, “I use my creativity to paint their requests while staying true to my artistic vision of the day and special moment.” The client chooses the subject for the painting, but Christina’s vision of that subject is its essence.
Another example that underscores her method as a custom artist is that of Mardi Gras Krewes. Through the years, Christina has worked with several. Each Krewe has a yearly theme, and as a custom artist, Christina creates the art based on their theme or an image related to that theme. “They will give me just those words, or sometimes they give me images they like, and then I will take that, pray on it, and then create something [that] I think would be in line with their brand,” she explains. With just a theme or an image, Christina’s unbridled creativity intertwines with the Krewe’s yearly token to craft something vibrant and cheerful that exudes sheer jubilation. After all, it is Mardi Gras!
Art has allowed Christina to communicate with all who view her work. Not a person who enjoys speaking in front of people, she lets her painting speak for her. Her work conveys exactly her intent, which is “to communicate joy, happiness, and love.” Her personal reward for the work that she creates is to make people feel good with the creativity that she pours onto her canvas. With each whimsical brush stroke, especially those made in bright colors, says the artist, “I create an expression of how I feel inside, and hopefully, that expression makes others feel the same way, which is joy and being thankful to God [that] I’m alive and able to do this.”
When she isn’t painting and creating, Christina loves to be with her family. With a great appreciation for history, it is easy to see much of the world’s history in the art found in museums, which is why she embraces traveling to different places and visiting art museums. Christina loves exploring and is a voracious reader and lifelong learner.
This year, Christina has a new series in celebration of Christmas called “Christmas in Nola,” which features paintings of local icons, such as garland-adorned streetcars and beignets and milk for Santa. You will also find more traditional Christmas ornaments like the Holy Family and the Nutcracker. This special series, available through her website, promises to bring even more joy and festive spirit to her audience.
Christina Pappion has found a unique and genuine way to connect with others. Her work fosters a shared sense of joy and thankfulness for the gift of creativity and life that shines vividly in her art.