Carla creates colorful eclectic art with a special focus on mandalas. To see more of Carla's artwork, visit her gallery: http://community.art-is-fun.com/photo/photo/listForContributor?scre...
When you view her portfolio, be sure to click on the images to view them larger!
Please join us for this interview with Carla:
I suppose ebullient and eclectic are the best words I could use. I like to create art which will alter my consciousness and mood as well as challenge me to do new and better things all the time. There is always a lot going on in my head and making art is one of the ways I express, manage, excite, soothe, and respond to what I think, see, hear, and feel. Often I will use my art (or music) to communicate with other people instead of talking or chatting. It's a way of condensing what I'm trying to get across into a form which is easier to absorb than conversation.
How long have you been an artist and how did you become an artist?
My mother was a fine artist (primarily a painter, but she also did metalwork, lithographs, jewelry making, and fabric printing) and art teacher so I was around art and art history all of my life. I was primarily interested in writing and composing music/singing but I always liked to draw, paint, and try the various artistic pursuits my Mom was teaching or into herself. One of my brothers also became a fine artist but the rest of us (two other brothers and myself) always dabbled. As time went on, I realized I was becoming a visual artist myself and, when I took early retirement for health reasons, I let it become a transition into letting the artist in me come to the fore.
What is your favorite medium and why?
I have always loved to draw and to make collages. At different times in my life, I’ve used drawing and collage-making in different ways – for example, drawing using graphite pencils morphed into working with colored pencils, then scratchboard art, then Chinese Art inspired pen and ink work, and then drawing with a wacom tablet and pen in Painter. Collaging went from cutting pictures out of magazines and applying them to paper with glue, to making cut paper collages, to carving my own drawings in rubber (eraser material) to make stamps and collaging them together.
The challenges are two-fold. First, there’s the desire to do something new and/or better than before and that kind of challenge is thrilling and satisfying. But, I also have the challenge of physical limitations due to illness and they are the kinds of challenges which are harder to meet. Due to fibromyalgia and severe allergies, there are many things I’d like to do which I cannot. Chronic pain in my hands and neck are the worst culprits but not being able to work with many things due to my allergic reactions is also frustrating. Nonetheless, I have never given up and usually find ways to satisfy my curiosity and the desire to always be learning something new or adding to my skillset in one way or another. I got this determination from my Mom, who suffered from severe and crippling arthritis in her hands and knees. She never stopped painting until the day she died.
The piece I’d like to pick is Woman Power (shown above). It’s the most recent piece I’ve finished and it represents all of the things I’ve been talking about in the rest of this interview. I sat down with the idea of drawing a mandala featuring a portrait of a beautiful black woman who was in a dream I’d had recently. The challenge was to use the symmetry tools in Painter 12 while still making the portrait realistic and three-dimensional. I started out with 12 segments and worked on the two adjacent segments at the top of the piece. By sketching out a rudimental face using lights and darks very simply (with pen and ink brushes), I set out the boundaries of the face and the positioning of facial features. Then, I went back in and added layer upon layer of color using different saturations of the various colors I wanted to use for the skin, eyes, mouth, nose, and hair. Using different sized brushes, impasto paint, and different saturations of color, I was able to build up a fairly realistic portrait. It turned out much better than the image in my mind when I first sat down to draw it. It was mesmerizing to watch the face’s contours, and the way the woman in my portrait started looking back at me with her own sense of herself, appear upon the empty screen. I always expect to be surprised by what my brain, my hands, my intentions, and the tools I’m using to make a piece come together to create.
I would love to do trompe l’oeil – for example, to turn my garden fence into a virtual garden wall covered with creepers and vines and bougainvilla – so realistic-looking that people would do a double take when they drove or walked by. That’s one thing I have never done yet.
How do you make time for art?
I just sit down and start something. I know that, if I sit down to draw or make something, things will come of it. I rarely know, in advance, what direction they will take but that’s part of the wonder of it for me, why I love creating things so much. It’s always an adventure. Even if I’m doing something to meet a deadline or fit into a specific challenge given me by an external source, I approach the piece(s) through playing around with the media or within the parameters which have been chosen. Something will always come of it which I will feel meets the challenge, whatever it is, and on time, too. The beauty of a deadline is that you can’t just fuss over something indefinitely and, perhaps, lose the immediacy and meaning of the work through overthinking or overdoing it.
If you could imagine the “perfect art day” for yourself, what would it be like?
My perfect art days are when I’m in the act of discovering that I can accomplish something which has eluded me in the past or that I have been able to express something I’ve never been able to release into the world before. The joy and shock of my eye changing or my mind opening to new possibilities. Being in the moment completely and experiencing whatever the world is to me in that unrepeatable period of time.
It would be David Hockney because I love his work and, even more importantly, how he loves to try new things in his art and push the envelope of what people think his art is, or can be. As to what we would do, I imagine it as being an open-ended experience where we just hung out and made art together, whatever each of us was working on, and then try out something that the other person was doing to see how it worked. Then, maybe, we’d collaborate on something jointly.
Very nice profile Carla, enjoyed reading it, nice work!
Thanks Thaneeya - this looks great - love the layout. :D
Thanks for the comment, Pat! I appreciate it.
Very unique artwork! Love your portraits! So realistic!
Thanks Jenifer! And thanks, too, Grace - for the comments AND the photo of Hockney! Boy, he was young then. lol
BTW, one thing I didn't discuss in the Q & A is my long association with mail art. My art pseudonym, Carla Cryptic, is from my getting into mail art back in the 70's. I've participated in, and hosted, hundreds of mail art calls. Through mail art, I got to know an international group of like-minded artists who feel that art is to be shared, not hoarded, and that artists blossom in association with other artists. This is something that isn't as common as it needs to be and, before the internet was available to the average person, there weren't any ways to share art with other artists outside of gallery shows and museums. Since only a tiny percentage of all living artists are featured in galleries and museums, most would never have the satisfaction or stimulation of knowing what other artists think of their work, or to collaborate with other artists. Mail art changed that for me and quite a few others around the world.
I've hosted two large calls focusing on women in conjunction with the Women's Studies Department at UC Berkeley (where I used to be the department manager) - What Do Women Want? and Women at the Millennium (in the year 2000). I also hosted a mail art call at my wedding reception called Euphemisms for Marriage. ;)
My most recent call was for my 60th year on earth and the fact that it was the second time I got to celebrate my year of birth in the Chinese calendar (Year of the Golden Rabbit). It only happens once in your lifetime, if you're lucky enough to make 60. You can see the results here:
I did several pieces for the call and I got pieces from mail art friends all over the world throughout the year! It was glorious.
Last, but not least, here's a link to the place I have over 300 of my songs and musical collaborations online - totally free to listen to:
My most recent songs include one in Swahili, one in Hindi, an a cappella cover (in 4-part harmony) of Tumbling Tumbleweeds, and a dream like version of Summertime. Come have a listen! :D
Thanks so much Grace! I really appreciate your kind comments. :D
Grace L. Sanford said:
Holy Moly! I'm listening to House of the Rising Sun (traditional) right now, and it's just wonderful! You have an awesome singing voice :) Thanks for sharing this link; I'm going to enjoy listening to more of your singing, for sure.
Tumbling Tumbleweeds (a cappella 4 part harmony) is great too! It's one of my favorites from my Texas childhood.
Love what I saw!
Congrats Carla on being Profile of the Week....sorry so late with my response...enjoyed your story and the pieces that were showcased...way to go!