Whether she is painting in oil, pastel, or mixed media, Christie Scheele’s message is carried on atmospheric elements of light, air, and moisture. By softening her images’ shapes and lush colors behind a silky veil, viewers are free to gather their own message or simply a stirring—perhaps a forgotten memory or dream.
In Scheele’s eyes, the more minimalist her artwork, the more evocative it is. “I prefer the shape to be simpler, so the eye doesn’t get snagged on too many things, including brushstrokes,” she says. Images of big sky and water—pools, marshes, tidal rivers—abound in her work, much of it inspired by our area.
Scheele, a resident of New York’s Catskills, began coming to the Cape at age eight. Today she spends large chunks of every summer here with her husband, usually staying in Brewster and sometimes accompanied by their college-age twins. She finds many happy moments in places like the Brewster tidal flats or Paines Creek marsh, camera in hand, capturing settings for her studio work. She loves stepping back from the ocean into quieter areas and stiller waters. “The way the sky reflects on a tidal pool is completely different from way it reflects on the ocean,” she says.
The effect is mesmerizing. Wide swathes of color as weightless as clouds float across Extravagant Sky. Scheele is fascinated by how the eye travels across art. In Two Trees, a color field painting composed of a bit of shore, a couple of spare trees, and a water hole reflecting the sky, the eye first goes to the water hole or the trees, then circles around to masses of color. Her multi-panel works, such as the three-piece Exuberant Wave, are opportunities for her to increase the effect. She almost never paints foreground, relying on “simplicity of shape,” to carry her message. “In abstract painting, it’s all on the surface,” she says.
After Scheele “kind of tumbled” into landscape painting in the early 1990s, she quickly developed her visual voice. “I had no rules about what I was supposed to do,” she says. She found she loved reducing the details in landscape paintings to shapes of minimalist luminescence. As Scheele says, “My nature is to get blissed out when I’m outside.”
Christie Scheele’s art may be seen at both locations of the Julie Heller Gallery, 2 Gosnold Street and 465 Commercial Street in Provincetown (juliehellergallery.com) and at christiescheele.com. The gallery is hosting the group show “Three Visions,” featuring Scheele with artists Jenny Nelson and Polly M. Law, at the Anchor Inn in Provincetown, through September 16. An opening reception is being held on July 28. Scheele is teaching a landscape painting workshop July 30-August 2 at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.