Both of my parents were Artists, so I feel like I came by it in a prenatal sense. My father had painted the internationally known dinosaur and mammal murals at Yale’s Peabody Museum and worked extensively for LIFE magazine during the ‘50’s. My mother was a book illustrator. I drew and crayoned constantly in my early days. In high school art was my major. I then moved on to the University of Hartford Art School in West Hartford, Connecticut. There I did the drill and came out with a BFA in Painting in 1969. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and “stole” all the prizes given in my senior year. My interest was figurative, mostly female nudes in elusive compositions and space. Color appeared as a component of the overall painting.
After graduation I began teaching at Famous Artists School in the Young Peoples Art Course program. This was a rewarding experience. I taught the first lesson exploring basic skills and the animal lessons at a more advanced level.
After two years I decided to go west to study at the University of Montana in Missoula. This move was a reaction from living my whole life in Connecticut. I wanted to explore the U.S. and found my relocation to be exciting. There appeared before me the mountains of Glacier Park which left me with a heightened feeling of how Man fits into the universe. Other sites in this part of the world included the National Bison Range, the 29 mile long Flathead Lake and seven Native American reservations. All these features influenced my artwork as I began to do totems and hide paintings. I learned a great deal about the culture of the native people and became very involved with their plight.
After receiving my M.F.A., again in Painting, I received a position as a Graphics/Illustrator at the Missoula City/County Planning Office. Although I veered from my goals as a painter, I had to eat. I worked eight years there until I resigned in order to finally pursue my art.
It was then that I began to show the symptoms of bipolar illness. My life spun around. I was out of control as I began to experience the horror of the disease that has struck many artists throughout history, my father included.
I returned to Connecticut where my parents resided. I began hospitalizations after hospitalization trying to gather my life together. Art was on the back burner. I took endless retail jobs to just stay alive, I wasn’t diagnosed until about 25 years later. This was the worst part of my life.
Just twelve years ago I had my last hospitalization. As the future unfolds, I have blossomed with my artwork. As I slowly, but consistently became “stronger”, I found the inclination and the joy of creating in many ways. The foremost was my dormant career as a working artist. At the end of 2007 I began to really paint seriously. Since then I have become prolific, producing more than 5 paintings in one month. I now enter competitions and online shows in order to get my name “out there”. I am very happy and my work shows it. Color blooms and textures abound.
I’m finally free enough to do my art. Nothing is holding me back. There are no more hospitalizations. I am shouting that from the rooftops!
Kristina Zallinger, February, 2014
An Artist’s Statement
I often quip that color is my middle name. Much of this explains my love affair with it. I hadn’t planned to burst into color, but it just happened when I resumed painting in 2006. As hues emerged from my palette, so did texture. My canvasses almost define a third dimension as I develop my style. I owe much of my obsession with color to the teachings of Josef Albers as he explored variations on “Homage To The Square”. I feel invigorated when the same color looks different on various backgrounds as it reacts to each color field. I have no boundaries. I experiment with all combinations of blues, reds, green, purples, etc. and delight in seeing them in action as they create light, depth and space beyond belief! I really cannot see myself abandoning my newly found friend. Color, I believe, will always be my middle name.
Kristina Color Zallinger