Christina Alford’s happy place is a sectioned-off space in her grandfather’s shop in the Gravel Hill Community.
It’s the location of the 16-year-old’s art studio, which she visits frequently to create oil paintings.
“Especially after a long day at school, I can just come in here and have fun painting,” she said.
Christina began painting about a year ago.
“I kind of painted a little off and on here and there, but I really consider when I first started painting was when I began oil painting,” she said. “That’s when I started and truly decided to learn. It’s been an amazing experience for me.”
Christina, who is homeschooled, is the daughter of Chris and Tina Alford of Black Hawk.
Her studio takes up about a quarter of Bobby Alford’s shop, near the home of Bobby and his wife, Kay, and is filled with a variety of Christina’s artwork hanging on the walls and her supplies, such as brushes, paint, canvases and easels.
Christina has always been interested in the arts. Before she began painting, she focused on music.
“I am a musician at heart,” she said. “I play the guitar, the piano, the ukulele, and I sing sometimes. That’s what I still do. That’s kind of where it started.”
Then, about a year ago, she began looking at YouTube videos of artists.
“All of a sudden it became obsessive,” Christina said. “Every day after school, I’d start to come over here, and I would paint after I had just watched some art videos, and that’s really how it all began.”
She had painted what she called “doodles” with acrylic paint in the past. As her interest grew, however, Christina said she convinced her father to purchase her a set of oil paints.
Her first oil painting was of a mountain scene, which sits in her studio today.
For Christina, the mountain scenery “really kind of hit the nail on the head,” she said.
“I started showing (my work) to my dad, and he said, ‘Whoa. This is incredible,’” she said.
Christina’s father, Chris, is a graphic designer and had always told his daughter she had an eye for color.
“He was able to spot that with me, and he began showing my work to different people, and they were kind of amazed,” she said.
Christina said the positive feedback pushed her to continue painting.
“The more I looked at it, the more I could see what they were talking about,” she said. “I guess that encouragement kind of put me over the top, and I was ready to explore what I could do.”
Since then, Christina’s self-taught talent has grown, and she’s created about 200 paintings.
“It’s just been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in my life,” she said. “I understand I’m only 16 years old, but at the same time, it’s been incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better year.”
She’s been learning her personal art style and experimenting with different techniques.
Christina recently picked up finger painting with oils. She learned by watching videos of artist Iris Scott, who is well-known for her finger paintings.
“Iris Scott is one of my all-time favorite artists,” said Christina. “How she creates her art really did inspire me to take a leap and try finger painting.”
One of Christina’s finger paintings was inspired by a photo her father sent her of an autumn day with the view of looking up to the sky surrounded by trees.
“I was like, ‘Wow. That is so pretty. You know what? I’m going to paint this,’” she said.
Christina made a mock-up of the painting on a small canvas, and then created it on a 30-inch by 40-inch canvas.
“I was so happy with it,” she said. “Finger painting is always so much fun. If you look at the texture, it’s a fun texture. If you look at it, you feel warm inside with all the different colors.”
Christina enjoys painting landscapes. After her first mountain scene, she’s been creating different mountain scene paintings.
“Whenever I did my mountain scenes, I’d do two or three a day,” she said.
Some of the mountain scenes are in the winter, while others are in the spring. Some have a cabin, and others focus on trees or a pond.
“The more I paint, the more I pay attention to the light and how it shines on the trees,” Christina said.
Being so close to the Delta, Christina is also inspired by agriculture scenery. One of her paintings she sold was of a Delta landscape featuring a crop duster.
“It was for a teacher at Pillow Academy, and she wanted to do something so sweet for her husband,” Christina said. “Her husband’s brother was actually a crop duster pilot and had died a few years ago, and she wanted to surprise him with this.”
Christina said creating work for others is a fulfilling experience as an artist.
“You feel so proud of yourself whenever you look at your art, but it kind of doubles when someone else enjoys it as much as you do or more than you do,” she said. “That’s really what it’s all about — bringing something special to the individual.”
While Christina loves painting scenery, color is what she’s drawn to when she decides what image to create.
“Anything that has popping color,” she said. “I think scenery is probably my No. 1 go-to, but if it doesn’t have color, it’s not going to be me.”
Christina said she plans to continue to create art and wants to one day make it her profession, and even find a way to incorporate music.
“It seems like God always puts you where you need to be, and it feels like that’s what’s happened here,” she said.
Christina’s artwork is for sale and can be viewed at Los Cabritos Mexican Grill and Danny’s Floral Studio, both in Greenwood, and at ctaart.com.
• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.