Channin Ciancio captures vital elements of nature, animals in her paintings
Painter and digital artist Channin C. Ciancio is from Newark, Del., and has been lucky enough to live a life fully acquainted with wild and domestic animal friends — from butterflies, cats, birds, praying mantises, snakes, turtles, foxes and everything in-between.
They inspire her not only artistically, but also to become a better person, in gifting her with the understanding that we and what we affect are all part of nature, not above it. She enjoys art that makes her feel good, touches poignant emotions and inspires her to act accordingly because of it. She hopes her own art accomplishes this for others, as well.
The good people at the Cecil County Arts Council asked her a few questions about her interests, influences and, perhaps most importantly, her affinity for Johnny Depp.
How did you get into art?
I’ve always appreciated those who were able to reproduce what they’ve seen or create something that only had existed in their head, so I tried my hand at drawing a horse at some single-digit age. I sketched until perfectionism, sadly, crippled me.
Flash forward, as an adult, after being inspired by sev- Ciancio said she creates art that centers on nature and animals.
eral local artists during art openings, I was driven to come home and just “play.” All I had at the time were digital means so I started playing in Photoshop and found, without attachment to the outcome, much to my
surprise, I could not only draw, but paint satisfactorily! This gave me courage to move onto canvas painting which is my primary mode of inspiration these days. And as it’s super important to me to honor my special animal family and animals/ nature in general — so it all began!
What type of art do you create?
Drawing, photography, painting, sculpting, sketches depicting memories, food art — whatever mode inspires me at the moment. But the subjects always seem to be fauna and flora: animals (pets, wildlife) or nature in general (all things water, especially ocean, forests, wild/native flowers). The only human I will bother to portray though is Johnny Depp [laughs].
Who are your artistic inspirations?
I’m inspired mostly by various local artists when I go to openings. Many I can’t name, but I remember styles and works that sent me home in obsessive creative mode.
If I had to name names, I’d say my fellow painter at the arts council, Eileen Felice, as she does amazing work with animals and people. I love her use of color, style and subject choices. She inspires me, especially since she is not formally trained. I learn a lot from just being around her.
Also folks on YouTube like the Art Sherpa and Painting with Jane, because their loving approach makes being creative fun and attainable for everyone, and they churn out some great ideas. It’s like a “Paint Nite,” but free, BYOB and way more supportive and educational. I credit them and Bob Ross for inspiring me to just get back into playing (if not painting) after a few years of hiatus. (Yeah, I watch Bob to fall asleep sometimes!) What do you enjoy about your work? I enjoy the peacefulness of creating. And when things work out how I actually saw it in my head, I get extreme satisfaction! But like children, they come into the world how they’re going to be, not usually how I exactly envisioned — and that is the real deal with art. Sometimes it’s its own thing, regardless of your aim or talent.
When I can capture an essence of a subject, especially in the eyes, I am stoked to have been able to catch it. I love that I make art for me: to feel good, to capture a feeling or memory. So if I feel good about it, that’s all that matters.
What is your favorite piece — any story behind it?
I can’t say I have one favorite but art is like personalities, you can appreciate several for several different reasons. I have a few ocean pieces I have started doing, which make me happy, and any bird art makes me happy. I have a few paintings of my animal family, which I love because I have captured some of what makes them who they are to me. Which makes me go all gooey. I have one of Johnny Depp’s eyes and a portion of his face that I did, which makes me feel how I feel when I look at him, so yeah [laughs], I like that one. Anything else? (what’s next, big news, etc.?) Right now life is up in the air, so I’m going to just keep creating what I need to and love to and hopefully down the line, someone else will like it too [laughs], and I’ll do some commissions. One day I plan on getting back to my greeting cards and producing t-shirts too, more commercial graphic art stuff and funny sentiments for those ventures. But every day is a different day with different opportunity and accommodation.
So for now, I’m just thrilled to network with fellow artists. Thanks to the arts council, I have a place to play, which offers me support and camaraderie, which gives me way more than I can say! Besides from haunting all local art receptions [laughs] and working on the community garden there, the future definitely has me giving back to the arts council in the ways that I can, for all it does for me and the community at large.
Artist Spotlight runs monthly in the Jumpstart section as part of the Cecil County Arts Council news.
The Cecil County Arts Council is spotlighting local artist Channin C. Ciancio with this month’s Q&A.