As a painter, Christopher Leith Evans has had a multi-faceted career that has brought to him a wide range of experiences, awards and honors including travel assignments with National Geographic, working with film directors George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Martin Scorsese, an Oscar nomination for Special Visual Effects, grants from the Ford Foundation and the Pollock Krasner Foundation, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
Christopher was born in 1954 in Bremerton, Washington. His grade school years were spent in Brightwaters, on Long Island, in the suburbs of New York City. As a child and teenager Chris often visited the city’s great museums, giving him a deep appreciation of art history. At the age of seventeen he obtained a copy of the newly published Painting Techniques of the Masters by Hereward Lester Cooke, Curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art. In 1972, after graduating from Bay Shore HIgh School, he moved with his family to Santa Monica, California. In the Spring of the following year he embarked on a tour of Europe to visit the Uffizzi in Florence, the Vatican in Rome, the Louvre in Paris, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to see the Masters' paintings firsthand.
In the autumn of 1973 Christopher began attending the University of California, Los Angeles. The UCLA Art department of the 1970s was a hip crossroads of Post-Modern “pluralism” and celebrated artists such as William Brice, James Valerio, James Doolin, Tom Wudl, and David Hockney were among the faculty that Evans studied with. Christopher was one of a handful of young painters interested in exploring a more naturalistic approach to representation than Pop-Art and Photo-Realism afforded, and in using long disregarded techniques of traditional oil painting. On the occasions when painting in the clear light of Nature required getting out of the city and its veil of smog, Evans would drive up the Pacific Coast Highway in his Volkswagen, pull off to the side of the road, and using the steering wheel as an easel, paint rapid “plein air” studies of the ocean and sky. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1980.
Returning to his New York roots during the 80s and 90s Evans painted a number of rooftop vistas of Manhattan and its iconic architecture. The most celebrated, begun as a series of photographs in 1995 and completed in 2002, is New York Full Circle, a 360˚ panoramic view of the city as once seen from the top of the South Tower of the World Trade Center painted on a 24 inch sphere. New York Times art critic Roberta Smith called the piece “exhilarating” and compared its meticulous detail to the work of Renaissance master Jan Van Eyck.
In 1996 Evans launched a special collaborative project of large canvases called Supply Chain Portraits. These multi-picture global view “landscapes” explore the economic, environmental, and spiritual connections that link western consumers of gasoline, lumber, and artist’s oil paint to unseen people around the world. The series is designed to raise awareness as well as funding for international humanitarian causes.
Christopher Evans’ landscape paintings of the past decade are inspired by the rolling hills, oak trees, reflecting waters, and expansive skies of Northern California’s Russian River valley where the artist lives. The pure, elemental forms seen in rocks, water, branches, leaves, sky and clouds, are the natural resources from which the work evolves. The paintings themselves have a remarkable clarity of atmosphere, a quality of light, a time of day, and specificity of place that gives one the sensation of being there, or the feeling of wanting to be there.