This interview first appeared on 1st Turning Point
Posted By Chassily Wakefield on February 23, 2010
Carol Nelson, Artist
Interviewed by Chassily Wakefield
1st Turning Point Cabin Girl
Copyright © 2010 Chassily Wakefield and Carol Nelson
I’m delighted to introduce 1st Turning Point’s February featured artist, Carol Nelson. Carol’s work has been described as “a bold exploration of both realism and abstraction. Each piece probes the essence of color, surface texture, and structural mass…her abstract compositions often suggest geologic elements with the use of natural and man-made materials such as metals, plastic, and numerous acrylic mediums.”
I’ve known Carol since I was a little girl. It was a real joy to interview her about her work and have a chance to reconnect with an old friend. Thank you for being with us, Carol!
CW: Tell me about your background in art. How did you get started? When did you know you were meant to be an artist?
CN: Art was always my best subject in school. I started out as an art major in college, but was worried that an art degree would not provide me with a sure income. I ended up changing my major to medical technology, where I knew a job awaited me when I graduated.
When my kids were little, I had a stained glass business out of my home, but it wasn’t until 1998 that my career as an artist actually began, following a chance discovery of Maxine Masterfield’s book, Painting the Spirit of Nature. Standing in the middle of Hobby Lobby thumbing through that book, I thought, “I can do that.”
I bought all the supplies I needed, and started producing art that was well received almost immediately. Then followed a four or five year learning period of art workshops with local and nationally recognized artists. I experimented with different styles of painting and every media from watercolor, acrylics, oils, to pastels and collage. Gradually, I narrowed my focus to acrylics, oils and mixed media.
CW: Tell me about the type of work you do. What inspires you?
CN: I love to paint. My style varies from realism to abstraction. My paintings reflect my emotional and responsive connection to the world around me. Nature provides patterns, rhythms and textures that stimulate my creativity, and there comes a point when the energy of the painting emerges and the materials themselves offer suggestions and direction. My goal is to be responsive to the process and guide the work to an expressive interpretation of nature’s spirit.
As a child, I loved creating colorful pictures. Now, I make a living doing what I love. Visit my blog for the latest work, with tips and comments on the painting process. On my website, all of my work is categorized according to subject matter and style.
CW: Are you willing to modify your subject matter to help promote your work?
CN: My entire portrait project is a promotional effort that has doubled my blog traffic. I don’t normally paint portraits, but it occurred to me in a dream (true story) that doing 100 portraits in 100 days would be a good promotional project. I’m about one-quarter done with the portraits and can see my skill as a portrait painter has increased with all the practice.
Some people (my husband being one) look at abstract paintings and don’t recognize the skill of the artist. They feel painting a recognizable subject, where they know how it’s supposed to look, is the true measure of an artist’s ability. My portraits are shown right next to their reference photos, so it’s easy to see how well I captured the likenesses. This has given my work a certain validity with people who only appreciate realism.
I love producing many styles of art. When I’ve done realism for a while, my inner child calls out to create an abstract. I actually feel that a well composed abstract is more difficult to achieve than anything that is realistic.
CW: What promotional tools have you used or do you see yourself using in the future?
CN: My membership in an online gallery called Daily Painters has really launched me on the internet, and my internet sales have greatly increased. When someone sees a painting of mine on DP, they’re directed to my blog, where I post every painting as I complete it. I often talk about the painting process, various techniques and materials on my blog. Every painting on my blog has a link to my website, where all my paintings are categorized according to subject. Paintings may be purchased directly from my website with a PayPal button.
CW: What is your ultimate goal?
CN: I suppose my goal is to be featured in a national art magazine, but I create my art for my personal satisfaction, not for the notoriety. I’m fairly well known in art circles in Denver. I’ve conducted several workshops and demonstrations for local art groups. It’s satisfying to be recognized by one’s peers for one’s work, but the real joy is in the creating. I have the luxury of not having to support myself from my art sales.
CW: What is your take on the art world today? Has the economy affected the atmosphere and sales? What strategies can an artist use to overcome a tough economy?
CN: The art world, like everything else, took a big hit when the economy went into recession. Lately, I’ve noticed a significant increase in art sales, so I’m hoping things are turning around. People have to have disposable income available to buy art, and there seems to be more people willing to spend on art.
CW: Anything else you’d like to share?
CN: Art, like any creative endeavor, e.g. music, writing, must be done for the joy in creating. If I never sold anything, I would still paint and be happy. There are literally tens of thousands of people trying to express themselves with paint or music or the written word. Living in the age of the internet is so unbelievably fabulous. The opportunities to communicate with others around the world involved in the same creative endeavors are endless.
CW: Very true! Thank you again for being here, Carol, it was so great to talk with you. All the best to you and in your work.
Spirits in the Wind Gallery, Golden, CO (303) 279-1192
The Bradley Art Gallery, Stoughton, WI (608) 873-9026
Columbine Gallery, Frisco, CO (970) 668-5041
West Southwest Gallery, Denver, CO (303) 321-4139
Contact Carol at: