Celeste mostly works in oil with some collage and drawing. She has been at RWS for two months. After earning her degree in illustration from Philadelphia College of Art she taught art and worked as a professional illustrator for many years. She illustrated children's books, as well as for other publications, and painted a variety of topics in watercolor. She worked with international clients and clients across the country and even had a couple of agents along the way. “What I found out with doing picture books is how much I am a sequential storyteller in my visuals.” The narrative is an important aspect of Celeste’s artistic process. She’s been painting full-time for the past seven years and began by painting from her experience in being a caregiver for her daughter, Abigail who has an intellectual disability. “I use my life a lot as a jumping off point and then see where the work goes.” She recently had a show at George Marshall Gallery in York with two other painters, Alicia Ethridge and Martha Miller, who are also parents of children with disabilities. “It was a perfect project for my work.” She’s inspired by almost everything: nature, people, shapes. She’ll find herself in a situation and think about how amazing the components are and bring them together to form a narrative. “I’ll be living my life and see two images coming together or objects passing each other and I’ll go, ‘Wow, that has a lot of potential as an image and a painting’, or I’ll see color combinations in the world and I’ll make a mental note or jot something down. Or somebody will say something and the words tell me a story that I take home and apply it into a painting.” It’s when she’s able to bring these concepts to the surface and when she feels an emotional pull while she’s working that she knows she’s on a good track. “I think it’s also something about spatial sense. You can see things in space or imagine them in your mind and have some determination you want to try and figure out.” Sometimes when the painting is finished the concept has transformed into something else. The tension from these imaginations comes through in composition and she loves to think about how things balance out, how they’re placed, and the emotional space that’s created. In her oil paintings Celeste loves to play with texture and always tries to find a way to bring interest to the surface. “Working with watercolor vs. oils is different; you can get really translucent, which I love, but it is a different thing altogether.” She loves to build with oil and to carve and dig. “It’s kind of a push and pull, I think, of paint and surface line texture.” Celeste likes to experience the process and finds she is able to tap into her emotional life when she can move color and find ways to show expressiveness. Her paintings are both abstract and figurative, which she describes as ‘overlapping internal and external observations within reflective environments and relationships’. For her, it’s all poetry, “How to hold all of these parts of our lives together and stay centered is huge, and find beauty in the hard times.” Celeste’s paintings need to be viewed in person to be fully appreciated for their dynamism.
Henriquez, Celeste. Mama Swim. Oil on canvas.
Celeste and her painter friends, who refer to themselves as “Seven Collective” (@collectiveseven) are having a show at the Maine Art Gallery in Wiscasset that runs from August 20 - September 17, 2022. Celeste met these painters in 2015 when she was at a MECA abstract painting class. There are seven of them, as their name suggests, and the show is called “Collective Imagination”. With a nod to Jung’s Collective Unconscious as a uniting theme, this exhibition brings together the works of seven abstract artists and their mentor. Within the framework of a collective, the artists work along the lines of abstraction, meeting regularly in each other’s studios to critique their work and discuss painting and abstraction. Five years down the road, they continue to meet and work, drawing from the landscape, dreams, and the collective unconscious to create these paintings. In addition to Celeste, the artists include Emily Blaschke, Jenny Campbell, Alicia Sampson Etheridge, Michel Droge, Doreen Nardone, Brenda Overstrom, and Donald M. Peterson. Her illustrations can be seen in the children’s book, No Dear, Not Here: The Marbled Murrelet’s Quest for a Nest in the Pacific Northwest. Contact Celeste via email at email@example.com or on Instagram @celeste.studio.art.