Fantasy Artist James C. Christensen Succumbs to Cancer at age 74

James C. Christensen

James C. Christensen

“I paint things that are not real, but fantasy often ventures into the dark and scary stuff. I made a decision long ago that I would not go to dark places. There’s a lot of negativity in the world. I try not to be part of it.” – James C. Christensen

Christensen, a world-renowned fantasy artist, died Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, at the age of 74 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Christensen had dealt with bladder cancer for more than a decade, and at the time of his death was participating in a trial study for an innovative treatment. Though the treatment didn’t overcome the cancer, Christensen lived longer than his doctors had predicted. And he nearly kept creating art till the very end: his daughter, artist Cassandra Christensen Barney, would go to her father’s house at least three times a week this past fall and they would paint side by side. They had been collaborating on a production redesign of “The Nutcracker” for the Utah Regional Ballet.

James C. Christensen

Fantasies of the Sea

Inspired by the world’s myths, fables and tales of imagination, James C. Christensen was an artist who became globally recognized for his works of fantasy, faith…and fish? Fish became a common, almost trademark, theme in his works:

“In my paintings a fish usually symbolizes wonder and wisdom. I often paint a fish floating in the air to remind the viewer that this is a new reality, that there is magic in the world.”

James C. Christensen, fantasy art

Old Man With A Lot on His Mind

Christensen saw himself not as the “fantasy artist” label given him, but rather as an artist who painted the fantastic. He had served as president of the National Academy of Fantastic Art, and he co-chaired the Mormon Arts Foundation with his wife, Carole. Christensen is survived by his wife and five children…two daughters, Cassandra Christensen Barney and Emily Christensen McPhie, are artists in their own right.

His funeral is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14.

“I feel very strongly that you do art because you can’t be happy doing anything else; you can’t NOT do art. That’s the way I was,” Christensen said. “It’s the desire, the fire in the belly, the way your brain is wired.

See more, or order art by James C. Christensen

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