We’re starting a new series on the blog called Artisan Spotlight! We’ll be sharing artisans in the industry that we love. Our first artisan is Artist Cindi Ornstein, whose paintings we often incorporate into our designs.
When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist?
Growing up I was always creating. Because of that, art has always contributed to my identity. I took every art class in school, entering my first art contest at age 6. My parents always stressed the importance of a college degree and an understanding of business, so I pursued a career in fashion design rather than fine art.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I currently live in Wilmington, North Carolina with my husband Paul and our 10-month-old Shih Tzu, Sake. Our career path started in women’s fashion where we designed and manufactured women’s large size sportswear in Los Angeles, being amongst the first to create current and fashionable clothing for this forgotten part of the market. The business took us all over the world and introduced a much broader look at design.
When did you start painting?
After 20 years in Los Angeles we sold the business and moved to Charlotte, NC. There I found my Southern roots. Settling in to a new city, and designing our home brought me into another design career… interior design. It was a natural progression as I have always loved the layering of paint colors, fabrics, textures, furniture and accessories in a room. I was fortunate to get to work on some great projects with drivers from NASCAR. When we couldn’t find art that was right for a job I went to work and painted it. Even painting very large-scale paintings for our own home the night before a party. That’s when I seriously started painting again and took oil painting classes from Curt Butler. My career path has been varied but I always knew I would pursue something creative. My husband always told me that my greatest work would be in painting.
Describe your creative process.
Anything and everything around me can be an inspiration. When I paint I start with a plan but I follow where the paint and brush take me. I build up layer upon layer until the painting is revealed. I love the push and pull of the buttery oil paints, and today I paint largely for interior designers and furniture shops, where I can use my experience with fabrics, interior design and art to create something that has the power to pull a room together. The greatest asset I have is my husband’s critique. He has the best eye and always helps me to see what I was missing. He frames all my pieces and we have spent most of our careers working together.
What current art trend are you following?
My work centers on inspiration from my local surroundings. I find that saleable art today is more abstract and interpretive than ever. Using non-brush implements to get the basic shapes on canvas helps to give less information with more impact. I have created a color palette that is current for todays homes and is soft and environmental. I feel strongly that bringing the outdoors in with color will create a soothing living environment. I love that art can literally change the tone of a space in a way nothing else can.
What is your proudest accomplishment as an artist?
I pour myself into each layer of paint , so when people respond to my art it warms my heart. I started painting to express the joy I find in creating. My proudest accomplishment is the relationships I have with wonderful storeowners, designers, clients and fellow artists. I was fortunate to sell my work at B.D. Jeffries in Charlotte and I sold a large oyster painting to Charlotte Moss, for her beach home. That was a proud, feel good moment. Paula Deen also has an oyster painting of mine in her Savannah home.
I love what I do and am so grateful for the gift I’ve been given!
Thanks for sharing your talent with us, Cindi!