Christiane-Clarissa James was born in Munich in 1972. She is a classically trained artist with an interest both in Renaissance and nineteenth-century painting techniques. A native Austrian, Clarissa grew up in Munich, Germany where she became involved in film production at an early age. Following a childhood dream, she moved to London after finishing her formal education, to work for the famous puppetry and character workshop “Jim Henson's Creature Shop” based in Camden Town in London.
Whilst in London, Clarissa was motivated to pursue painting and drawing and independently studied classical drawing and painting techniques. Clarissa’s love for drawing and painting was first inspired by a visit to the Watts Gallery near Guilford, an artists’ village dedicated to the work of the Victorian era painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts. She followed this initial impulse by researching drawing techniques in the London museums, where she became particularly interested by the the Pre-Raphelites, and pursued an anatomy course at the University College London Medical School. In 1997, Clarissa moved to Florence to train at the prestigious Florence Academy of Art, an art teaching institution renowned for its commitment to the academic tradition. From there she went on to spend several summers at the studio of renowned Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum and has since taught both Renaissance and nineteenth-century drawing techniques and the highly skilful technique of silverpoint drawing.
Clarissa is drawn to silence and contemplation and following a trip to the Far East developed a great interest in the simplicity and clarity of Japanese art and design. This combined with her lifelong passions for fabrics, opulent textures and nineteenth-century aesthetic, results in unique paintings which are rich, meditative and calm. Clarissa is renowned for her life size figurative works which depict contemplative figures, often self-portraits, deep in thought or meditative states of mind. Her mesmerizing paintings of birds, peacocks, cranes and falcons, depicted against opulent hues of gold or silver reveal the nineteenth-century aesthetic influences on her work. Specific in her craft as an artist, Clarissa grinds her own paints to achieve a more unusual luminosity and texture. Her immaculate use of gold leaf brings a spiritual nature to her work and often her elaborate depictions of birds feathers and fabrics are embellished to create a tapestry or jewel like effect and bring a third-dimension into her oil paintings.
Clarissa's work hangs in private collections in Europe, America, Japan and South Africa. In 2006 she was elected an Associate of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and won the Cornelissen & Son Prize for the most outstanding work in that year’s annual exhibition. In 2009 she was elected to Full Membership of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. In 2011, Clarissa completed a six month residency as a guest painter in Lord Leighton’s Studio at Leighton House Museum, London. Clarissa currently works from her studios in London and Salzburg in Austria.