Christine Hella Cott Thompson has been a writer her entire life, but she only picked up painting five years ago.
With no professional training, Hella Cott picked up painting with natural talent, but she’s been writing since she was a child.
“I was always writing stories as a kid,” Hella Cott said.
Hella Cott made a career as a writer, working for a newspaper, writing advertisements for radio, television and books. She said her favorite is creative writing, and she likes writing about what she’s interested in at the time.
“I like to follow my nose,” Hella Cott said.
Hella Cott said she was exposed to the art world for a long time because her husband was a print maker. He was always the artist in the family, she said. But when he died five years ago, Hella Cott decided to pick it up.
“I always loved to doodle,” Hella Cott said.
Hella Cott started with pencils but has moved to acrylic paintings on canvas. Almost all of her work is acrylic now.
“I like to paint fast,” she said, adding she paints on large canvases.
“It always seems the canvas is never quite big enough,” she joked.
Hella Cott can complete one piece in a range of a week to multiple months, depending on the painting.
“I just dive in, wrestle it to the ground, and hope it turns out like I wanted it to,” Hella Cott said.
Hella Cott has had two paintings she has not been able to figure out how to make right, but she doesn’t throw away her work. Instead, she will put them away for a while, and a solution may come to her later.
“Just hope one day I will learn enough to crack it,” Hella Cott said.
All of Hella Cott’s work is self-taught. The only help she ever received was when she painted with Northwest painter Will Turner. She has painted with him three times, and he critiques her work, but Hella Cott said it’s not a class.
Turner taught her to not get caught up on the little things in a painting all of the time.
“That was very helpful,” Hella Cott said.
She said her writing background adds to the feel of her paintings.
“Every picture tells a story,” Hella Cott said. “I tend to paint stories.”
Hella Cott paints a variety of scenes, but mainly cityscapes, seascapes and florals. A lot of her paintings are of the Olalla area, where she lives. All of her pieces are very personal, she said.
“The magic is making something new and different,” Hella Cott said.
And she takes her artwork seriously.
“It’s very absorbing,” Hella Cott said. “I forget about time, food. I don’t think about anything else.”
Hella Cott talked about frustrating moments in art, because when there is a problem with the piece, you often don’t know how to fix it.
“It’s like finding your way in the dark and stubbing your toe,” said Hella Cott, Gallery Row’s featured artist for September.
Her work has been at the Gig Harbor gallery for two months.
“I’m delighted to be there,” she said.
Hella Cott is in three other galleries around the area, and she has pieces at hospitals and other businesses. She’s been told her paintings are calming.
“I just love to paint,” she said. “I love to make something out of nothing.”