Winter Looks a Whole Lot Cooler in Charlie Corrigan's Paintings

"Black Apple."EXPAND
"Black Apple."
Charlie Corrigan

You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

“I’m not sure art is a natural talent with me,” admits illustrator Charlie Corrigan “I draw lots of terrible, terrible pictures, but I just have to keep working at it until something pretty comes to the paper.”

Corrigan’s training is in literary studies, not art. During her senior year of college, though, she took two art classes and “that’s about the time I got hooked on art and realized how fun it was,” Corrigan says. With that meager collegiate foundation, Corrigan taught herself the rest of what she needed to know about drawing and painting, and now she makes quality art in her spare time.

"Ellie."
"Ellie."
Charlie Corrigan
"Portrait of a Girl With a Cat."
"Portrait of a Girl With a Cat."
Charlie Corrigan

By day, Corrigan works at a branch of the Denver Public Library, dividing her time between reference and hosting an after-school program for area kids – a program with a huge arts and crafts component. “I feel really lucky to be able to combine both of my interests into a single job,” Corrigan says.

That day job doesn’t just allow Corrigan to use her art skills: It inspires them, too. “Working at the library, I handle hundreds of books daily," she points out. "I feel like there is a cacophony of images in my head.” In fact, some of Corrigan’s favorite artists are classic children’s illustrators like Arthur Rackham and Kay Neilsen.

“I’m not really great at articulating this, but I really love stories more than anything else,” explains Corrigan. “And while I appreciate stories, I’m a terrible storyteller.” So rather than spend her time creating narratives, Corrigan makes “illustrations for amazing stories that nobody has actually written,” she says, calling her pieces “little moments or snippets in time.”

"Dashing Fox."
"Dashing Fox."
Charlie Corrigan

She does her work in snippets of time, too. “I know a lot of people who love doing art in groups, but for me painting is such a solitary endeavor,” she says. That’s why Corrigan cherishes the time she spends alone in her home studio with a podcast or some music. She's built a business out of the work created there: Barnum’s Winter, named for her beloved westside neighborhood, Barnum. “The neighborhood is actually named after PT Barnum, and the local legend is that he was buying up land to be a winter home for his circus. It’s totally untrue,” Corrigan continues, “but I love the story.”

Corrigan also loves winter, even after a storm like this past weekend's. “I have two really awesome hobbies,” she says. “Since I’m really into gardening, I started painting in the winter to pass time when I couldn’t garden.” Lately, though, things have gotten a little mixed up: “It turns out there is gardening to be done in winter, and sometimes it is more fun to paint in the summer."

To do her art, Corrigan uses both pencil and acrylic — “normally together,” she says, explaining that she typically does sketches with dyes and then adds acrylic to renderings. “I really like to have pencil showing through on my final paintings because it has this thin, fragile look that works with the things I paint, which tend to be thin and fragile-looking,” Corrigan offers.

"Post-Apocalyptic Friends."
"Post-Apocalyptic Friends."
Charlie Corrigan
"Robot Girl on Bicycle."
"Robot Girl on Bicycle."
Charlie Corrigan

A few years ago, Corrigan began showing her work at local craft fairs, including the Horseshoe Market and Fancy Tiger’s Holiday Handmade Craft Fair. This year she hopes to expand on those gigs. “I’ve noticed that in Denver the craft scene is very different from the fine art scene, and I feel like I stumbled into arts and crafts accidentally,” she says. “Crafters are some of the nicest people I’ve met.”

Corrigan also shows her work at Denver’s Public Library’s Staff Art Show, and two of her pieces are on display on the seventh floor of Central Library through the end of this month. “I love putting pieces into that show because it is such a fun, welcoming environment, and there are so many talented people who work at the library,” she says. 

You can also find Corrigan’s on Etsy. For more information, visit her website.

"The Octopus and His Accordion."
"The Octopus and His Accordion."
Charlie Corrigan
"Robot Girl No. 1."
"Robot Girl No. 1."
Charlie Corrigan
"White Winter Tree."
"White Winter Tree."
Charlie Corrigan
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Denver Central Library

10 W. 14th Ave.
Denver, CO 80204

720-865-1111

www.denverlibrary.org


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