Interactive, magnetizing paintings on view


ELLSWORTH — Imagine if you owned Salvador Dali’s most famous painting, “The Persistence of Memory,” and for fun could swap the gold pocket watch and face-down clock covered with ants? Or, move Edvard Munch’s howling figure in “The Scream” elsewhere on the bridge?

Orono painter Christina Thwaites invites you to do just that. The mother of two has created a body of work in which the viewer can literally play with the paintings’ composition and storylines. In “Enough to Share,” for instance, you can give the bearded, bib overall-clad fishermen each a salmon to hold or make the fish swim above their heads. Or, in “Two Sisters and a Chicken,” you can perch the chicken on one of the little girls.

Courthouse Gallery Fine Art’s Karin Wilkes has some fun rearranging elements in Orono artist Christina Thwaites’ magnetic painting “Two Sisters and a Chicken.” ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY LETITIA BALDWIN

Courthouse Gallery Fine Art invites folks to come and see for themselves “Christina Thwaites: Magnetic Paintings” on view in-person at 6 Court St. or virtually at through Oct. 30. Admission is free and open to the public. The British-born artist also will talk about her magnetic process and show how to interact with the paintings at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, via the online conferencing platform Zoom.

Born in Sheffield, England, Thwaites holds a masters in French literature and art history from the University of Edinburgh. She went on to attend the École du Louvre in Paris, where she worked as an assistant to watercolorist Patrick Fouilhoux. She further honed her skills studying with the Italian artist Alberto Parres at la Porta Blu Studio in Rome. Since then, she has lived and painted on three other continents. Her travels have taken her to Walasiho, a remote village in Indonesia, and to the Al Fara refugee camp in Palestine.

In “Christina Thwaites’ “Dreaming of Pirates,” the dreaming figure and hands can be slid around to create different compositions. IMAGE COURTESY COURTHOUSE GALLERY FINE ART

Moving five years ago to Orono, where she paints and teaches from her basement studio, Thwaites began developing her interactive, magnetic medium in which “any person  [even the non-artist!] can successfully engage in the creative process and communicate something of themselves through the work,” she writes on her website.

At the time, Thwaites’ two children were very young and she lacked the time and focus to tackle large compositions. She works in metallic paint and acrylic. In each painting, she makes certain elements magnetic so they can be positioned elsewhere on the wood board-backed pieces. She has found her new medium “addictive, playful and also highly challenging.”

In “Two Sisters and Chicken,” the balloon, chicken, and figures are movable pieces. IMAGE COURTESY COURTHOUSE GALLERY FINE ART

Besides her own original work, Thwaites also creates magnetic murals and large-scale paintings.

To pre-register for the artist’s Sept. 16 talk, call 667-6611 or visit




Letitia Baldwin

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]
Letitia Baldwin

Latest posts by Letitia Baldwin (see all)