Don Christensen portrait At the age of 40 after a career as a professional musician I experienced a "life change" and began painting. It was very easy for me - I knew what I wanted to paint and the years of studio assisting as a young man paid off in having some understanding in handling professional art materials.

In the spring of 1999 I composed and recorded a musical score for an animated film entitled “Africa”. My research for this project led me to the idea of rythmnatized textiles. Native textiles are often made while singing. I relate to this interplay of geometry, symmetry, and musical rhythm and the interpretation of these forces upon a physical surface.

My use of these ideas of visual design is also colored by my experiences as a musician and drummer. The concept of “cool” refers to an ancient African and perhaps a human mode of being. Master drummers would criticize younger, less experienced musicians for playing too hot or from the “heart”. To be “cool” one must develop their skills as a player so they can go beyond simple heated self-expression, and be detached enough to bring objective appraisal to their art. To me this concept of “cool” reflects my ongoing involvement with expressionism and formalism.

My experience with the outsider artist, Emery Blagdon’s Healing Machines has also influenced me. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to "discover" and literally save the lifeworks of this incredible self-taught artist. I share Emery Blagdon’s belief in the healing power of art, both for the maker and the observer. When one really connects with an artwork or art experience they are transported into a universal space that is restful and restorative.

Artmaking for me is a very intuitive activity. I feel that I’ve been given the gift of a certain kind of creativity that causes me to experience many things in ways that are maybe unique and/or intense. The composition, color, and drawing that are integral to my work are usually a representation of something I’ve seen before in our world or in my dreams. It can be quite simple, the color of a pedestrian’s coat moving by the large gaudy commercial graphics on the side of a truck as it turns into the late afternoon light. It could be the color scheme of a Matisse painting or the packaging on some candybar. My process of creation is simply an attempt to communicate these experiences and discoveries. Observations and comments on the world we live in are really the essence of it all. These observations, usually visual, can run the range of prosiac to outrageous. Beauty is a big concern, I seem to be suited to enhancing and communicating a more pleasurable perception of our existence, but nothing is sacred and nothing is too prosaic. The rectangle on the wall is an old traditional, formal device and it still works. It is television, movies, photographs and painting. I am in this tradition. My context is the present and our popular culture.

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