you're reading...

Cornelius News

Justin Christenbery: Painting with a broad brush

Justin Christenbery on a scaffold used reach his painting \ Photo by Jason Benavides

April 20. By Dave Yochum. Cornelius artist Justin Christenbery has completed a commission for a mural on the side of the building that houses 131 Main.

It’s big and graphic: A 16-foot wide by six-foot tall photo-realistic painting of a grouper on the brick wall facing the interior parking lot.

The 42-year-old artist has been a stay-at-home parent for the last few years, undertaking commissions and selling original paintings and prints whenever he can.

Detail of the grouper painting

He and his wife, Morgan Andrews, have two children, ages 7 and 4, and live on Floral Lane.

“Dad is the biggest job I’ve ever had,” the 2004 Appalachian State graduate said.

Art and reality

He said his art is not his alone. “It is meant to be shared, seen and experienced by all who come across it in any form. This world is changing so rapidly and it threatens, under our collective reigns, to descend into a chaos of confusion and insecurity. My purpose in this life is to clearly show another way,” Christenbery said.

The natural world is his biggest inspiration for his paintings.

“The goal of capturing light, water, or distance among other things is always reinvigorated in me when I spend time outdoors,” he said.

He lands commissions via word of mouth, special events and his website, JustinChristenbery.com.

A fish out of water

The grouper was commissioned by restaurateur Joe Douglas, owner of the building complex that includes 131 Main and Sharetea.  Christenbery employed a grid system along with a technique where he layers an image of the wall and the grouper and makes one of them semi-transparent.

“This allows me to work on a large scale without worrying about proportions, which are everything if you’re going for realism,” he said.

Justin Christenbery with his near finished 16-foot long grouper painting behind him