JCC Fine Art Gallery Exhibition

Thursday, December 27, 2018

San Xavier del Blanc. pastel 12x16.
Christy Olsen will be showing two pieces in the Fine Art Gallery in the Tucson Jewish Community Center (JCC) spring exhibition.

Art Exhibition & Sale
The Fine Art Gallery at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (JCC) hosts various art exhibitions throughout the year each with a unique genre in their gallery. They will present selected artworks from various artist in the Heart of Tucson Art and Art Trails Open Studio Tour. This event is open to the public and kicks off the local artist run Open Studio Spring Tour!

Exhibitions Dates
January 25 - February 10, 2019

JCC Fine Art Gallery
The Tucson Jewish Community Center is a 110,000-square-feet center built in 1989 and recently renovated in 2015. With more than 2000 families and 5000 members, the Tucson J is open to the Tucson community for all people, all faiths, all identities, all abilities and all walks of life. Their fine art gallery is located in the main hall of the JCC.

JCC Fine Art Gallery
JCC Fine Art Gallery Hours:
Monday – Thursday,
9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday & Sunday,
9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closed Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
Open to the Public.

For Purchasing Information
phone +1 (520) 299-3000

3800 E. River Road
Tucson, AZ 85718-6600

Driving east or west on River, turn south onto Dodge and enter our north parking lot. Driving north on Dodge, stay straight to enter our parking lot. Traveling east or west on Alvernon (where it turns into River) turn north on Dodge to enter our parking lot. You can also enter the northeast lot by turning in from River Road between the Tucson Hebrew Academy Day School and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Exhibition

Monday, April 2, 2018

Who's There. pastel on sanded paper. 12x16.

Landscapes, flora and fauna of the Sonoran desert are celebrated! This juried exhibition spotlights studio paintings and paintings completed outdoors, 'en plein air' in the Visitor Center Gallery. Expect to see familiar garden scenes in painted on location or inspired by vistas and the gardens at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Mission San Xavier del Bac.
pastel on sanded paper. 12x16.
Art Exhibition & Sale
Juried Original Artwork from the Tucson Pastel Society (TPS).

Maurice Sevigny, former Professor and Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona

Art Exhibition Dates
April 1 - April 30, 2018

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Visitor Center

Open to the Public
​Adult admission ($12.50)
Children under 12 ($5.00)
​Children under 5 (free)

Boyce Thompson Arboreteum
Gallery Hours
Open Daily
​6:00 AM - 3:00 PM

For Purchasing Information
Phone +1 (520) 689-2723

For more information, visit the Tuscon Pastel Society.org 

2018 SPRING Open Studio Tour

Artist's Open their Studios to the Public

Christy Olsen will be participating in the 2018 Spring Heart of Tucson Art (HOTA) Free Self Guided Open Studio Tour.

Art Exhibition & Sale
Artists & artisans located deep within the heart of Tucson, Arizona band together through the Heart of Tucson Art (HoTA) to celebrate the rich artistic culture of the Tucson Arts District.

For more information see

Christy's Studio will be open during these dates and times

April 14, 2018
10 am - 4 pm

April 15, 2018
10 am - 4 pm

Print the Map

Art from the Heart

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Yume Gardens. pastel on sanded paper. 12x16.

Tucson Pastel Society presents a group showing of fine art from their members. Smaller works donated by their members are for sale at $100, all proceeds from the small works are donated to the Tucson Arts Brigade.

Donated work. Owl. 6x8.
Exhibition & Sale 
Tucson Pastel Society Winter Charity Show, all original 5x7 paintings donated by Tucson Pastel Society members are priced at $100 each. Proceeds from the sales are donated to the Tucson Arts Brigade.

Show Dates 
Jan 21 - Feb. 28, 2018

Artist's Reception 
Jan. 21, 2018
12:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Murphey Gallery at Saint Philip's Episcopal Church in the Foothills
4440 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85718

(520) 299-6421

Gallery Hours
Open Sundays
9 AM - 1 PM ​

Why We Like Charcoal!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Charcoal is a dry drawing material used much in the same way as graphite but it does have a few advantages to discuss.

Charcoal like graphite varies in hardness and is also available in pencils or powder. Shading maybe produced by smudging the marks made using a stump (made with cotton), tortillion (made from rolled paper) or even a Kleenex.

Carla. charcoal on cream toned paper. 18x24.

Advantages to Charcoal

Soft Edges

Charcoal is a great tool for getting those soft edges, atmospheric or sfumato (Italian word for “to tone down” or “to evaporate like smoke”) drawings like Leonardo da Vinci is known so well for.

Produces Intense Blacks

Charcoal produces a very wide range of values so it is capable of creating extremely realistic and sensitive drawings. Vine charcoal makes lighter values where as compressed charcoal can create super intense blacks.

Work in Any Size

It is great for expressive drawing and can be used for larger works. You just buy larger chucks of charcoal.


Vine charcoal is lightweight and inexpensive.

Less is More

It's hard to get stuck in details using charcoal because it has more of a blunt mark than the precision of a pencil however it can also be sharpened for finer details.

Works Great on Textured Paper

When buying paper in the art store look on the labeled for "charcoal paper" or feel the texture with your hand. If it has a textured surface which is called the "tooth" of the paper it will work great with charcoal. The "tooth" allows the paper to hold the tiny particles of the charcoal so that it adheres to the surface better. Note that the amount of texture or "tooth" varies among different brands so you will have to experiment to find what you like.

Nitram Fusains HB Charcoal

Nitram Fusains

This medium soft charcoal is the one most preferred for drawing and sketching. Nitram HB's superior hold is perfect for homogenizing tones and retaining tonal detail. Each package contains five batons, each measuring &frac14" square × 6" long. (5 mm × 152 mm). Read more about it at Nitramcharcoal.com

Why I Like It?

I am a huge fan because it’s easy to use, low maintenance and low cost. It’s natural, simple, has as wide range of values and I can use my fingers as an eraser. I picky about the type charcoal that I use because I like to sketch with a sharp point.

The only charcoal that I have found on the market that is strong enough to hold a good sharp point like a pencil and is dusty enough for me to erase with my fingers is Nitram Académie Fusains HB (Medium). It’s wonderful!

I sharpen up a point using a flat piece of sand paper, put the charcoal in a brass charcoal holder and then I use it just like a pencil plus, I get the same luscious effects and qualities that I love about this beautiful drawing medium.

Blue & Orange, What a Combo!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Blue and orange is such a great combination. They are complementary colors, meaning that they are opposite on the color wheel. This means that when mixed together they will cancel each other out and produce a neutral.

Without contamination, i.e. straight out of the tube, placed next to each other they produce a strong vibrant appearance. This color intensity also creates color harmony.

Painting by Christy Olsen
Oranges with pot. goauche. 5x7.

Shape Hunting

Monday, April 6, 2015

Working from general to specific is a great approach to representational painting. It will help you stay focused on larger shapes so you can get the proportions accurate first as well as map out the value relationships before you hone in on the details.

Using a large brush in the beginning of your painting will definitely help you see the bigger picture and help you avoid getting bogged down into those details. Note, this is also why we love charcoal, it keeps us focused on the bigger shapes such as the eye versus the eyelashes.

North Light Window
North Light Window. oil on board. 8x10.

Painting from life is the best! You will have to work harder in the beginning in order to translate what you see from a three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional canvas however it's worth it in the long run. The first step is what I call "shape hunting" and it's counter-intuitive because we humans have the marvelous ability to perceive depth.

In order to paint we have to translate objects the objects we are seeing in order to capture them with a brush, this is a very different concept than creating a contour drawing. You have to mentally "flatten" them out each object that you are seeing with your own eyes in order to mass in that unique shape with your brush. Pretend you are seeing a cross section of each object and go for those larger shapes in order to get started and try not to get overwhelmed on the first pass.

Humans and primates are able to judge depth because we see with something called "binocular vision", i.e. we have two eyes that merge each image together within the brain. Monocular vision is when both eyes are used separately so the field of view is increased, but depth perception is limited (i.e. eyes usually positioned on opposite sides of the animal's head like a horse).

This is great if you are driving a car. You know exactly when to stop before smashing into something. However this works against you when trying to translate something from real life (i.e. a three dimensional world) onto a two dimensional (2-D) surface. Closing one eye is helpful for beginners this gives us the monocular vision needed to flatten out the image. For the more advanced, this is the part where good drawing skills come in handy especially your perspective drawing skills.

For some of us, we do not always have the luxury of working from life so in these cases we have to use photography. The downside of photography is that the color is almost always incorrect. The upside to photography is that it actually does do and excellent job of translating objects into those flat 2-D shapes for us. The work is already done because the camera only has one lens, i.e. monocular vision. So if you have to rely on reference photography do some color studies on site with your own eyes to record the correct color. Some more advanced artists may play with the images in Photoshop to correct the color deficiency based on their own experiences of painting from life.

Go "shape hunting" in the beginning of your painting and you will have more success later on as the piece progresses. Block in or mass in those larger flat shapes first, afterward you can can always render, model or blend it further. Blend more for a realistic or photographic look or leave objects less rendered for a more painterly look.