Thursday, June 6, 2013

CAROL CARTER AT THE GCWS

I have had an exhilarating 2 days!  Carol Carter arrived Tuesday afternoon and we spent the time catching up, having dinner, and talking a lot until she crashed that night (still a bit jet-lagged from her recent return from China where she visited her son and also gave a workshop!).  There was a lot more talking over coffee and breakfast Wednesday morning before we drove over to Mt. Adams for the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society monthly meeting.  We set up her paintings, were ready to go by the 10 am meeting time, and I took very little time to play President (our President, Deb Ward, was out of town on a painting trip).  We had a smaller turn-out than I hoped for (which is always the case in summer), but all present were very enthusiastic and thrilled to see a water media artist of Carol's stature give a program for our group.   And those that were present talked about how lucky they were to see Carol and her work - and how they were going to tell their friends how much they had missed by not being able to attend!



There were many questions as well as oohs and aahs as Carol went through her life in art as documented by the many paintings she shared - all displayed in real life (not a PowerPoint presentation) so people could closely see the flow of pigments and water on paper which illustrates the special look Carol has in her watercolors.  Some paintings were elephant sized (bigger than a full sheet watercolor of 22 x 30) and you felt you could step into the painting!  I received nothing but positively glowing reports from members after the meeting and am so glad they all fell in love with her work (as I did, 10 year's ago when I first happened upon her webpage and her earlier works).



Carol led us through her process and her thinking as an artist - what she wants to convey and how her voice has been heard through the paintings she does.  She began her work with black and white figures (you can see them on her web
site), then moved to her very bold and colorful "Swimmers" series, using water as a metaphor for the possible danger, uncertainty and also joy of life.  From there, she worked in portraits, doing a self-portrait every 10 years to show her own changes and express what was going on in her life.  The portrait here commemorated turning 50.  Carol stressed the development of imagery and content in her paintings.



When Carol was Artist in Residence for the Everglades National Park in 2010, she was thinking about how her connection to water and the ecology of the whole planet which often displays its status (good or bad) in the health of the animals that make their homes in and around water - like the alligators she encountered on her many walks in the glades while she was there.  She shared paintings done after the BP oil spill and a visit to the clean-up area where she saw the volunteers cleaning pelicans and other shorebirds that were covered with the sticky brown oil.  She is currently still working on her Everglades series of paintings from that time in between other shows.  After seeing those paintings, it was unanimous that she return to that series and work more on it :)



Carol keeps herself on deadlines she creates, planning for individual shows months in advance, then furiously painting specifically for that show to be ready when the date arrives.  She plans and markets her work well, presenting her work not only in large and small paintings, but in prints (Crate and Barrel has chosen 2 of her watercolors for inclusion in their limited edition fall collection you will be able to find the prints there soon!) 



Carol works in series, but sometimes jumps out of a series she is working on to paint something that is particularly beautiful to her.  You can see her signature style in everything she paints - there is a glow to the painting, a depth, and a wonderful use of blossoms and backruns which some watercolorists hate but which she uses to their best capacities.  

She recently had a show called Small Intruders in St. Louis.  She painted insects (which are often reviled), making them all interesting and beautiful little gems, glowing and shining enough to make us want them (so much so that 60 pieces were sold at the opening!).  The show contained small and large paintings as well as tee shirts created using the colors and shapes (but not direct copies) from her paintings.  She had notecards and small business cards as well as a book highlighting the show and the beauty in the bugs.  She is a hard and dedicated worker, always planning head to bring her artwork to the largest audience by thinking outside the box when it comes to shows (Carol is wearing one of her teeshirts in the photos above which are made from her Small Intruders paintings.  She brought a few to show the members and several of the ladies had to order some for themselves and friends.)

Carol gives lessons in her St. Louis studio, she teaches workshops around the world (she has taught in Norway, China, France, the Virgin Islands); her work is hanging in many collections around the world, most recently the Panama City Embassy for their 2012-2014 collection (2 of her paintings), and the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis (4 of her paintings for their public collection).  She will be the featured artist in 2014 at the Biennale d'Aquarelle de Toulouse in Toulouse, France and her work is included in the latest Splash book Splash 14)  that comes out this month.  She is one of only 6 American artists in the North American Watercolor Group, showing works with those other artists at the Strathmore Foundation in Rockville, MD as well as currently exhibiting with that group for Madrid Spain Watercolor in Spain.  The NAWG has also had a group show in Mexico.

I hope people took a lot away from the meeting - the main points Carol stressed are to be thinking of what you want to say and how to say it when you paint something.  To learn to express yourself and have a voice that is your own - not a copy of another artist.  Learn, study and grow - don't allow your successes to make you stagnant and don't paint something just because it's pretty - if it means something to you, others will sense that when they see it.  (If you sold a painting of beautiful apples, don't just continue to copy that painting because it sells, but expand on that and grow.)  If you don't need to make a living with your art, paint what moves you and hope for the best.  If you need to make a living at it, then learn all you can about the art-buying market and your viewers - know what will sell and what people want and can afford based on the economy and on the area in which you show your work.  Expand your sights to other areas and other markets.   Paint what you love but make informed choices to get your work seen by the most people and make things affordable in hard times.  Work hard at it and you will see the benefits.  

If you have not seen her work, you really should visit Carol's blog (where you will see links to her web site and her paintings for sale and Facebook site).  You will be bowled over by this amazing artist who is moving full speed ahead in her life and her career. 

In the past 10 years, I have taken 2 workshops with Carol.  I have found her to be not only extremely talented and skilled, but also one of the nicest people I know.  (For me, that is the icing on the cake.)  I was so pleased Carol took time out of her full schedule to drive over and give our group a program they won't soon forget.  She is definitely a gem and I am so happy to be able to call her my friend.

Thank you Carol.
You are definitely a keeper!







18 comments:

Christiane Kingsley said...

What a great post and how lucky you are Rhonda to have taken workshops with Carol Carter. I love her work.

Debbie Nolan said...

Rhonda - what a great tribute a Carol. I am hopping over to check out her blog. Thanks for sharing.

Lorraine Brown said...

What a wonderful read Rhonda, thank you. How lucky you and your club members were to have her visit. Her work is amazing

Carol Carter said...

This is such a nice accounting of a wonderful trip! Thank you Rhonda for making my lecture easy and my time fun. It was so GREAT-- I am looking forward to doing it again! You are my friend too.... and that's really special.

SARABEL said...

Me encanta CAROL CARTER..........es mi favorita........

dibuja de maravilla y los resultados son encantadores.......

un saludo

Heather said...

What a wonderful post. Carol is a personal hero of mine and I have been following her work for a long time. You are so lucky to have met her. Keep up the wonderful painting. We all draw inspiration from each other!

Celia Blanco said...

Rhonda, thank you for sharing it with us! A wonderful presentation, I love her work!

CrimsonLeaves said...

Her work is beautiful, Rhonda. Thank you for sharing her work.

Marilyn said...

Rhonda - What a nice write up on Carol. I have had the opportunity to plan and take a workshop from Carol. I agree with everything you have said about her. She is a great fun loving person. Her willingness to share is amazing. Carol has had a great influence on my paintings ... especially the use of color. I second the comment of taking a workshop from Carol if you get the chance. She is awesome and one of the best instructors I have ever had the opportunity to study under.

RH Carpenter said...

So glad you all enjoyed my view of the program, Christiane, Debbie and Lorraine :) Christiane, Carol goes all over the world for workshops - if you get the people together with an interest, just contact Carol and see if the times and dates fit in with her schedule!

Glad you liked it, Carol - and that you liked your trip over to Kentucky and Ohio :)

Gracias, Sarabel.

Glad you enjoyed the reporting of the day, Heather, Celia, Sherry and Marilyn :) Marilyn, I remember when you asked about Carol - so glad a workshop came about from that :) Good to hear from you!!

Gaylynn said...

Rhonda, Great article on Carol! I too follow her and LOVE everything she paints. How lucky GCWS was to have her come speak to them.

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Wow,lucky girl! Yes, Carol is a treasure!

Studio at the Farm said...

A wonderful, fascinating post, Rhonda! Thank you!!!

RH Carpenter said...

Glad you enjoyed the report, Kathryn, Pam and Gaylynn! Gaylynn, as Program Chair (this is my 2nd year), I'm trying to expand our area to outside artists - not just those living in Cincinnati. I'm glad I knew Carol well enough to have her stay overnight with me and then go to the meeting - worked out perfectly!

http://carolking.wordpress.com said...

What an interesting post. Carol Carter sounds like a dream. You are very lucky to have taken two workshops with her.

Hani Hani said...

I wish I could take her workshop as well. Would you be able to ask her to come Dubai?

RH Carpenter said...

Carol, it was a great program for the group and I'm planning on having her return for an encore before my 2-year term as Program Chair ends.

Hani Hani, she has given workshops in Norway, France, China, why not Dubai?? If you get enough people together and plan the fee/travel/dates, I'm sure she'd love to see your part of the world.

Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society said...

Excellent post - so sorry I had to miss that meeting - thank you so much for all your hard work.