A Superhero in Our Midst
California native Christopher Williams is currently earning his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, a promise he made to his father, who passed away two years ago. This brave and talented human channeled the pain of a childhood injury into his work as a painter. At the age of ten, Williams was stabbed in his left hand with a seven-inch knife that severed the tendons in his hand. Art became a catalyst and a way from him to work through the pain and anger. He developed a love for color. His overwhelming sense of chromatics and culture have become the foundation to his painting practice. With a combination of oils, watercolor, and graphite, Williams creates bold portraits in which each of the subjects is emboldened with a fierce strength.
Williams is influenced by his family, friends, culture, and folklore. He pays close attention to an individual's skin tone and how that correlates to cultural weight. An example is in the skin tones of "Les Traditions Du Mariage," which can be seen above and below. In this painting, he blends Cameroonian culture with folklore. The subjects' skin tones are different shades of blue, which mimic the traditional royal clothes worn by the Fon of the Bangwa tribe. In his words, "The figures are living carved manifestations of past lineage meant to symbolize marriage."
Williams spends his days teaching art at an after-school program at San Juan High School.
His nights are filled with painting and watching Netflix—which he admits he often does at the same time. Multi-tasker!
Williams imbues his subjects with a powerful set of eyes. As he says:
I love to enhance the fierceness and detail of the eyes in portraits, because the eyes are the windows to the soul. I tend to use eye color as a basis for an underpainting or for glazing skin tones . . . I blend my figurative folklore work with fantasy and pattern. It is my constant goal to portray color with a realistic narrative that you can feel.
Williams told us that he isn't afraid of ghosts.
But when it comes to aliens, he said, "In this vast universe, there has to be other intelligent life forms. Most likely they look just like us."
Williams's love is in a three-way tie for oil paint, graphite, and watercolor. For his oil paints, he chooses Gamblin paints. For graphite, he uses woodless pencils. And for watercolor, he uses the Number 12 squirrel-hair brush.
Williams's simple saying to live by:
"Be humble, be honorable, and be true."
Up, up, and away to Christopher Williams Instagram!