Christie Marie Elder’s creations inspired by desert, tropical nature
April 24, 2017
With every wisp and glide she makes across the canvas with her watercolor brush, Christie Marie Elder is envisioning a tropical getaway.
Although she's surrounded by Carson City's western beauty, she hopes her imaginary creations of paradise also will soothe minds in need of an escape, or for those who simply enjoy colorful landscapes.
"Some of the things that inspire me as I paint are listening to audiobooks and music," she said. "We would have nothing else if we didn't have inspiration."
It's no surprise to walk into Elder's studio and hear the tunes of worldly bands, like "Nahko and Medicine for the People".
However, island-style is not only Elder's finesse; she also paints familiar sunsets and sceneries found in Nevada and Lake Tahoe.
Some of her paintings glimmer in light; she uses paints infused with gemstones.
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"Tahoe and Hawaii are like yin and yang," she said. "Even though it's different climates, both locations are similar in spirit. It's nature at its most raw, adventurous, and beauty. It rejuvenates and heals you."
The 44-year-old local artist has come a long way, with her influences deriving from her first visit to Maui with her family when she was 16.
Since then, Elder has strived for a lifelong goal to open a gallery in the Rainbow State.
But those plans changed one day, when she was at the top of a slope on her snowboard.
"I come from a family with a love for winter sports," she said. "And being a resident in Tahoe and frequently doing it, I was in a lot of competitions."
At 16, Elder was offered a career in a professional league and to compete around the world. When she took the offer, she graduated high school in 1989. She competed in Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States, and ranked in the top five in the world for half pipe.
Her career as a professional athlete lasted until she was 27 years old – after competing in Word Tour, X-Games, and Vans Triple Crown.
Her experience landed her a spot into the Tom Sim's Retro World Legends Hall of Fame for Snowboarding.
"Travel has an artistic life lesson within itself," she said. "I've always wanted to do sports but not traditional. I'm blessed for the open doors."
But during her travels, Elder didn't give up on art. To this day, she still keeps a journal of her art of what she's seen during her professional career and plans to resurrect some work one day.
"I was told I couldn't be an artist," she said. "But I rebelled. I developed the gifts that I had."
After retiring from her winter sports career, Elder moved to Carson City in 2004 as a tattoo artist for eight years, and donated her time painting murals and logos at local businesses such as Al Seeliger Elementary School, Kaia FIT Carson City, and Saint Theresa Avila Church.
She also did commissioned murals and paintings for cities in other countries, such as Japan, during her travels.
But as an artist living in Carson City, Elder is searching for new prospects when it comes to displaying her work. So far, majority of her work can be viewed and purchased at Kona Chiropractic on Musser Street.
Elder and Chiropractic Physician, Brian Kona Russell, are getting married June 21.
"He has taken me under his wing," she said. "His patients buy art from me; I've sold more originals at the office than anywhere else."
Elder also displays vendors at community events such as the Annual Polynesian Festival and at Genoa's Candy Dance.
Although she plans to participate in these events again this year, Elder is building her inventory for future endeavors and getting involved with the Tahoe Art League.
And although Carson City isn't the most tropical place ever, she hopes her art can bring joy to locals.
"Art is my given gift and to present it is my way of giving back," she said. "It's a life degree. Art runs in your blood."
And with that, Elder is raising two boys who are inspired. Her oldest, Micah, 16, is pursuing photography while Zaca, 13, teaches himself the ukulele.
As her passion for snowboarding still lives on, Elder takes her boys out for snowboarding during winter seasons.
The last time Elder visited Hawaii was when she was 21. Although she is determined to open a gallery on one of the islands in the next few years, a piece of northern Nevada will always stick with her creative mind.
"I think my favorite thing about this area are the clouds," she said. "It's how they roll off of the mountains. If I need inspiration, I look up."
Elder's creations of Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe, and Hawaii can be purchased through her website at christiemarieart.com