Oil painter Debra A. Carr is our November 2016 Artist of the Month! Carr was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! Her piece Pretty Jane can be seen below. Read more about Carr and how working on this portrait became a therapeutic exercise in coping with loss and love.
North Caldwell, New Jersey ~ debracarr.com
I’ve been interested in the art making process ever since the first time I held a crayon as a child. Many years later I earned a degree in Fine Arts, and the rest is history.
Portrait painting, for me, has always been an exchange between the sitter and the painter, where both have the opportunity to be more fully seen. Pretty Jane specifically is a painting about my mother. It started out primarily as a way to memorialize her image for my family, but for me, it became something much more expansive.
The painting created a pathway–an opening–for reconciling what was a very difficult mother-daughter relationship at times. In the painting process, deep feelings of a painful love surfaced and became evident on the canvas. Although no words were spoken, about halfway through the piece, a mending, healing love for my mother was forming and taking root deep within my being.
I work from photographs as well as from life; it’s rare that I combine the two. Occasionally if my model cannot commit to the time required to finish a drawing or a painting I take photos to complete the work. My flesh palette consists of variations of Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Yellow Ocher and Flake White.
The colors that comprise my pallet are: Flake White, French Naples Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Yellow Ocher, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Ivory Black, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Sap Green.
The time I spend on each painting varies depending on the size and complexity of the image. Typically a four-month time period is required. Pretty Jane was completed in the usual time frame, but the canvas called me back repeatedly to change “just one more thing.” Unlike other paintings, this one was hard for me to leave.
The surprises in the painting were the daily conversations, internal dialogue, and memories that flooded my conscience every day.
I would like to thank my older sister Jane Carr who was the first artist in my family and the acclaimed painter Paul McCormack who has taught me everything I know about the craft of painting.
The Annual Art Competition provides international exposure that is invaluable to any artist. It is the kind of exposure that can change the direction of an artists career.