Sunday, March 13, 2016

new beginnings

For my followers:  I have begun a new blog under

I hope you will visit me there, with this new start.  My goal is to write more often, perhaps shorter posts.  I love words, and finding the flow, but writing well intimidates me so I postpone the work of it out of fear it won't be good enough.  I think beginning anew will be a way for me to change that energy.  Just as I am committed to making my artwork, I am earnestly dedicated to growing as a human being, being aware of my challenges and rising to meet them.

Thank you for your encouragement.
Carol Beth

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Full of Wonder  2006

For the last 18 years I've been exploring various themes in my paintings.  Early on I relied on photographs from my trips to Italy but eventually I became drawn to more abstract forms that hold metaphorical curiosity for me.  As my work shifted from actual landscapes to theoretical ones, the shapes of trees, houses and doorways evolved into ambiguous shapes.  I enjoyed the mystery imparted by my conceptual forms.

Gleaning  2009

Recently, I have returned to a shape that has shown up in my work over the last 9 years... the bowl, or vessel.  The shape itself harks back to my early love of being in Gram's kitchen, her yellow ware bowl in front of me as she taught me how to make a cake batter using only a cracked tea cup for a measure.  Her influence extended to other vessels as well.  She collected baskets, and that seed planted itself firmly in my creative development, because in the 80's I made hundreds of my own dyed reed designs.

Recently, I've decided to look more deeply at the bowls in my past work.  Initial pieces investigated the open quality of a mixing bowl, a bowl that one could imagine holding gathered goodness.

More or Less  2007

The following few years my vessels became enclosed, mysterious holders of magic elixirs.

Elixir  2010

Alchemy  2012

In 2014 I returned to cup like forms, invitations to sit down and receive tea and conversation.

Ceremony  2014

Comfort  2014

This year my bowls are back as free and spirited vessels.  Sometimes, the volume of the bowl, comingling energy with the ground of the painting.

Buoyant  2015

Acceptance  2015

I am excited to reinvestigate this metaphorical container, examining what attracts me and playing with it on many colorful adventures. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


some of my heart rocks

I can't really say when I first started seeing hearts.  Maybe it began years ago when I found my first heart shaped stone on a beach in Massachusetts.  I pocketed it with great pleasure, never expecting that decades later my heart rock collection would stud many surfaces in my home.

street heart

moth heart

cutting board heart

heart leaf

In recent years I began seeing hearts "in the wild." These ephemeral sightings are not something to be picked up and collected, but captured with my camera.  Apparently it is now part of my nature to see heart shapes nearly everywhere.

tempera on paper 50 x 42" 1989

What you think about expands...hearts have nearly always had a place in my art work.  In the 1970's I designed a soft doll, silkscreening the face and a heart on the front.  In the 1980's I designed and crafted baskets, calling my business "Heartvine."  Moving on to painting classes (pre-return to college) I made very large tempera paintings of hearts.

heart clouds

heart vine in the forest

Beyond graduation in 1996, eyes opened wide by my art education, I looked back on my heart creations as being simplistic and childish.  Yet well into the second decade after the millennium, hearts are very much a part of my life.  I still photograph extemporaneous hearts I find wherever I go, from trips to Italy to hikes in these mountains of the Carolinas.  

I heart you 24/7, oil, mixed media on board 2014

Look Inside, oil, mixed media on board, 2010

And I've returned to painting hearts, sometimes deliberately, yet often unexpectedly.  They show up, causing surprise and delight, a part of my existence.  I am grateful.
Spring Moon Rising oil, mixed media on board 2013

Unexpected Angel, oil on board 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Seed

dyed reed baskets - 1980's
Friends who have known me for years sometimes comment on how much my art has evolved over the last few decades.  They recall my early excursions into everything from handpainted dolls to baskets and painted gourd vessels.  

After Klee - painted gourd vessel

These efforts were a bridge to the realization that I wanted to be a "real painter."  I returned to college in the early 90's and after more than 4 years attending part time I achieved my Associate Degree in Visual Art.  This grand education (seriously wonderful professors at Berkshire Community College!) coupled with my first ever trip to Italy, awakened and exposed my hidden self, sending me on a whole new adventure.

Returning Home - oil on canvas

Window - oil on canvas

My love affair with Italy has never ended.  My travels inspire me to dig deep within as I soak my spirit in the magnificent art and architecture, the forms of trees and hills, the light-filled colors, and layer upon layer, the skies and earth.

I've learned to experiment continually, trusting my instincts and emotion.  Forms are intuitively abstracted, colors heightened and lines have become important to me.  

Sacred - oil on canvas

Full of Wonder - oil on canvas

My art has evolved a great distance from my first creative efforts.  Recently I had the great pleasure of being contacted through my web site by an artist in Milan.  We began an email conversation that has been rewarding for me.  In recent email with Franco we've discussed finding our true voices in paint.  

True Blue - oil on canvas

Excavation - oil and mixed media on board

I wrote that I strongly believe inside every artist who is serious about being true to themselves, is a seed that is solely theirs.  To improve and evolve, this seed needs our nurture and respect.  

In my studio I have many reminders of my twelve (so far) trips to Italy.  Can you spell a.d.d.i.c.t.i.o.n?  I have learned, through these visits, how to see with new eyes, whether I am in a museum in Venice, hiking in the woods here in the Carolinas or even noticing the way that sidewalk cracks form patterns that attract me.  

Mooncatcher - oil and mixed media on board

One Enormous Sky - oil and mixed media on board

Today's work doesn't resemble the work I did in the early years, but I have discovered my SELF, endlessly growing.  I am compelled to keep tending "my seed."

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Gentle Valor

Art speaks in different voices.  They can be soothing, questioning or even shouting.  Expressions are as varied as the humans that create the work.  My own voice has evolved as I've experimented with different media, explored numerous subjects and grown to trust my personal process.  While I still occasionally use recognizable forms in my paintings, I label my work abstract.  I've discovered that a lot of people are uncomfortable with abstract and prefer representational imagery.


Just as no one genre of music will appeal to everyone, or one kind of reading material, I would never expect everyone to respond to abstract art.  I think, though, that possibly some people resist non-representational paintings because they don't immediately see something they understand.  They may not know how to respond.  In part this is actually why I prefer to create abstract paintings.  Viewers can bring their own experiences to a non-representational work and react to it from an element in themselves that may be different than the side of them that admires landscape, a figure in a room or a vase bursting with blooms.



Being sensitive to the world around me, I am deeply affected by colors, textures, lines and forms in my environment.  When I'm hiking I can be transported by bare branches cutting through a bright sky, acid green moss contrasting with the cedar red slice of a newly cut tree or sunlight filtered through the forest, joyously illuminating a stream of clear water.

I am similarly moved by faded, overlapping pigments on homes in Trastevere, ancient olive trees arm in arm in a Tuscan field, or the scabby accumulation of posters glued on a Sicilian wall.

In addition to the visual feast I attend, I am continually aware of the emotions evoked by memories, and feelings in words I read or hear.  Every part of my day can contribute to the metaphorical, almost magical, pot inside me that is the source of all that comes forward as I begin a new painting.  I don't have a plan except to begin by laying color over my white surface and initiating a dialogue with what happens.  Once this journey commences I am attentive to choices I make.  Perhaps the initial color I choose reminds me of a door I photographed in Ortigia, so I begin thinking about my experience there.  Instead of sketching in that door with paint, I open a door into my emotions to draw on my filled vessel of experiences...the colors, textures and lines I've absorbed and assimilated.  As the work progresses over days and weeks, communication continues.  I spend as much time "listening" to my painting as I do "putting in my own two cents."  I can say I know it is done when I greet it one morning and know its name.

One Enormous Sky


I am always, of course, delighted when someone looks at my work and perhaps recognizes some part of themselves contained within.  A person may not understand why they like an abstract painting beyond the colors or something in the composition that speaks to them, but I like to think they are learning to trust their own instincts and beginning their own dialogue with my work.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Art and Color

My favorite childhood book

Ever since I was a young child and was thrilled by repeated readings of Little Golden Book's The Color Kittens, I have been in love with the joy and meaning of color.  For me, color has always had an impact on my feelings and emotions, and I associate color with sensitivity.

Having been a creative person all my life, and a painter for more than 20 years, I feel as though I am beginning to understand the capability of art to nurture one's spirit.  As I developed my skills as an artist I instinctively knew that choosing and using color was, in fact, very supportive of my own well-being.

excavation, oil and mixed media

In recent years, as I've grown as an artist and developed my voice as an abstractionist, I've received many comments from people who felt moved by my work.  The most common thread has been that my art and my colors have a calming effect.

patience, oil and mixed media

repose, oil and mixed media

Because I do not paint recognizable subject matter, those that are drawn to my work often reflect on what they are sensing or feeling.  They may be unaware of what it is about a particular painting that draws them to it, and yet they spend time in reflecting on it, perhaps inducing a moment of contemplation in an otherwise busy life.  I think that the object of reflection begins with the viewer's reaction to the colors.

receptive, oil and mixed media

reverberation, oil and mixed media
I believe that not only does color convey emotion, but that combinations of colors, frequently complimentary colors, intensify the reaction.  My own intention is not set before I begin.  I don't paint a red painting to excite or a green painting to promote relaxation.  I do, however, explore the way colors dance together and create their own magic as they touch, combine, overlap and flow off the edges.  They are containers of sentiment, sparking conversations amongst themselves and they convey energy to me as I work with them.

cadence, oil

traces, oil and mixed media
The people who own my paintings have sometimes told me that they feel an expansion, or a new depth in their thoughts when contemplating my work.  My generous friend and fellow artist, Rosemary Starace, wrote that when someone bought a painting of mine that they owned much more than a beautiful decoration for their wall, but an eternal, gentle reminder of their own richness of being.

This is truly the power in color and how it can affect one's sense of aliveness.  If one reads the new research on the power of thoughts and emotions on cells, there is no doubt in my mind that viewing art that moves you to a peaceful internal space could only have a positive effect.