Friday, July 4, 2008

A thought on Line

Line is a powerful visual tool. The coral-tinted edge of a rose petal becomes a line that cuts across the unopened bud carving the petals into abstract shapes. Two roads become lines cutting the landscape into ribbons of grass and trees. A few simple strokes of a paintbrush suggest polite intimacy between a man and a woman.

When my eyes open, the world of objects, lights and shadows entertains me and inspires the images that appear on canvas and paper. The red and yellow painting illustrated here is an underpainting for a collection of work, Between Here and There, that focuses on the five elements of art: line, shape, value, color and texture. Two dozen paintings explore various ways to present a road as a major design element in a work of art. The series will be exhibited in October at Monsoon Gallery in Bethlehem, PA as part of my solo show Unveiled - The Anatomy of a Painting. To view the progress of the paintings as glazes are applied, visit Before The Curtain Falls.

My hope is that after viewing the exhibit, Unveiled, curiosity will be sparked in the viewer, filters will be removed from the eye to brain communication and a sense of joy will be experienced as the simple, five elements of art are recognized in the daily experience of home, work and leisure.

One need not be an artist to enjoy the sun shining on a basket of laundry, a sink full of dishes, a pile of tires or a rusty pipe against an old brick building. The line of a well-draped fabric in the form of a dress swirling through the air as a woman dances can catch the breath of those who have never visited an art museum.

Line, shape, value, color and texture are everywhere for those with open eyes and a willingness to see the world as something other than the objects we identify with words.

Chris Carter

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Lonely Highway


First few paragraphs of a short story written by Tom Reilly. To read the entire story click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Tom spends a great deal of time on the road. He rebuilds and repairs packaging machinery for the food and drug industry. Most of his clients are involved in bagging coffee beans and ground coffee.

The plot of The Lonely Highway is familiar, but one that most folks never grow tired of.

The Lonely Highway

by Tom Reilly

I got into Wichita at about 7:30 at night. The drive to McPhearson was 87 miles of flat, straight highway with nothing but oilrigs dotting the shoulders. I had done the route a few times before and knew how long it would take to get to Dumont’s hotel. Once there, I could go down to the bar, have a nice tall glass of Wichita Red and hit the sack relatively early.

Well, that didn’t happen this trip.

I was a little over an hour away from the airport, just past Newton on interstate 135 when the beer that I had on the plane started to kick in again. Rather, the beer started to kick again inside of me. I could feel the pressure rising in my groin and knew that if I didn’t stop soon I’d have to pull off and go on the shoulder. Not that that really mattered, you see. Heck, all that was out there was a bunch of oil rigs grinding away in eternal drones of unlubricated metal. There weren’t any other cars, trucks or even horses on the road. I could pull over, shout at the top of my lungs, blast the horn, shoot a gun, heck shoot a cannon and nobody would hear.


link to the rest of the story....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Figures . A new book by Chris Carter

By Chris Carter
I just published a selection of figurative paintings.

The book is 7" x 7", 40 pages, 39 full-color reproductions of watercolors and mixed-media. Click on the image to preview and, if you wish, order the beautiful book.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Growth Demands Sacrifice

Developing a painting often eliminates some of its strength. When Heads Begin to Fall began with beautiful transparency that created a mysterious depth and a dreamlike quality. I wanted to leave it as it was. However, the goal was not to create a lovely painting. My objective was to learn to successfully nurture a painting past the initial stage where it begins to come to life. Just as a young child is full of energy and great potential, a painting holds promise for learning, new ideas and communication skills. A painting should be allowed to fulfill its potential as children should be nurtured to fulfill their potential. That demands taking the chance of losing some of the sparks one loves the most. For more discussion on the development of When Heads Begin to Roll, click on the link to my illustrated journal Before The Curtain Falls.

Images: Left - When Heads Begin to Roll (underpainting) 36" x 48" oil on kraft paper by Chris Carter
Right - When Heads Begin to Roll (finished painting) 36" x 48" oil on kraft paper by Chris Carter

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mike in Heels


I couldn't resist posting this photo of my son, Mike, airborne in heels. All three of my children continue to expand my vision of both the internal world and the external world. More than half of the music I listen to while painting was introduced to me by Alexis, Nicole and Mike.

The circle of inspiration expands like the ripples from a small pebble tossed into a body of water. The paintings of Ali and Celia Vuocolo continue to take my breathe away and I push myself to renew the strength of my own energy through strong design and luscious application of paint. The audacity and light-heartedness of Mike's friend Laura reminds me to let go of stodgy thoughts and attitudes. I could go on for pages listing their friends and the contributions they have made to my life both artistically and personally. It is a joy to see my children and their incredible friends making their own way into the world.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Painting on Kraft Paper

A large piece of kraft paper is far less intimidating than a large stretched canvas. This is particularly true when painting from inner guidance rather than having a direction in mind. After tacking the 3 1/2 ' x 4 1/2' piece of brown paper onto the wall, I let my arm swing freely to guide my hand across the paper. It was no surprise to see the orb and oval shapes that fill my sketchbooks appear on the paper. Figures began to emerge and a bit of geometry forced its way among the clusters of figures. As I began the second stage of clarification, at least four figures and three spheres were eliminated. As I began to lay in color I realized that the figures were not archetypes that normally emerge from my automatic drawings and paintings. Instead, the figures became the daughters surrounding my mother at the sacred moment of her last breath. She chose that moment, surrounded by her three daughters and two of her granddaughters. I don't know who the figures are on the right.

I've been contemplating content in my paintings. The kraft paper set me free, allowing the expression of a powerful moment. This is the first of many. I look forward to seeing what the next kraft paper painting might become.

Image: The Departure - oil on kraft paper 36" x 48"

The following poem was written by my daughter, Alexis:

New Year’s Eve

my grandmother waited
until she was surrounded by daughters
to die.

down the hall, my grandfather,
eyes rimmed red,
was talking with the
woman at the front desk.

he hadn’t made it to the parking lot
and yet it was far enough.

my mother. her sisters.
myself. my sister.

and my grandmother, dying.

the men were on their way.
caught in traffic perhaps,
or by the streak of clouds
that glowed golden as the sun set

and she stopped breathing.

outside, purples were crowding
the edges of the sky
and lights flickered on in windows.

she stopped.

what else is there to say?
her breath caught
and in seconds her skin was grey,
her cheeks sunken. was it the wail
that brought my grandfather back
down the hall? i cannot remember.
only that later, he was there. but
at that moment, it was only us
and the sound emanating
from our throats— rising
and rising.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chas Cochran . Harpman Sings The Blues

Chas is one of my favorite musicians. He is a singer/songwriter whose roots are in Chicago. His voice soothes my soul while his harmonica playing awakens my creativity. What could be better than that?

We met at Porter's Pub in Easton, PA where Maria Woodford ran the open mic on Thursday nights. Chas, along with several of the other fantastic musicians I have met at Maria's Open Mic played at the opening of my solo exhibit Fluidity at Monsoon Gallery in Bethlehem, PA. It was definitely a night to remember, a celebration of the creative energy that flows between music and art.

Visit Chas's Web Site

Listen to The Other Side of Two

Image: Chas - Watercolor by Chris Carter. To view more watercolor sketches of musicians visit Gallery of Musicians.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Painting with Acrylic Paint


For over twenty years I had a hate relationship with acrylic paints. They dry too quickly, the colors used to be far too plastic looking for my taste and they didn't have the wonderful smell of oil paint and turpentine that I love so much.

When I found myself pressured to begin, complete and hang a painting in less than two days I resorted to acrylics in spite of my dislike for the medium. Following the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, I painted a series featuring two of the original New Orleans Jazz Bands, The Eagle Band and King Oliver's Band. The image above is The Eagle Band.

Working in acrylic I was forced to move quickly and boldly. For the first time, I enjoyed the quick drying medium. Shortly after completing the series, I forced myself to paint in acrylics, mixing my own dilutions and experimenting with the different mediums that are now available. Within a month's time I put the past dislike behind me and embraced acrylics. I am now able to use my watercolor techniques with acrylic on canvas. The paintings can be stretched and either not framed at all, or framed without glass. I often begin with watercolor splashes on the canvas, seal the watercolor and continue painting with acrylic. Acrylic also allows me to use charcoal for line work and delineation of forms. I can seal the layer of charcoal and continue with fresh glazes. The painting above, Dance for Dionysus was created in this way.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Yarn Painting or ... Have I Lost My Mind?

I have never, ever, been a fan of Paint By Number paintings. Nor have a been a fan of any of the numerous craft kit projects that I have seen and have had to pretend to admire, making the kindest comments I can possibly make when the creator has asked me for my opinion. Being a 'real' artist, my opinion is asked for far too often. The most dreadful moment I can remember was when I was asked to comment on a painting that had been purchased from one of the Starving Artist sales at a local hotel. Imagine the bargain, a 24" x 30" framed oil painting for a mere $100. Fantastic!

So ... why did I find myself giving this yarn painting more than a once over and a groan? I was definitely intrigued by the woman who was emptying her car of all sorts of crap at the Route 46 Flea Market early this morning. She had long hair and wore jeans and a flannel shirt. She moved with the agility of a 35 year old woman and had more wrinkles than anyone I've ever seen and clear blue eyes. I kept glancing back and forth between this marvelous, ancient face and the yarn painting. As I tore myself away and began to depart, I heard her strong, hushed voice inform me that I could have that item for a dollar.

I went back to investigate the item, hoping I would come to my senses. I couldn't possibly have been a Yarn By Number as I had originally surmised. The choice of colors was extraordinary. The accents of color here and there were quite painterly. The yarn had been glued to a board, the board was backed with a cloth and the image was outlined with another detail of fabric. I became captivated by the creativity of the creator, regardless of the end product. And, quite honestly, I liked it.

I bought it. It is now twelve hours later and I'm not sorry.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Zakar Art . Music Movement and Art

I just discovered the work of Dana Draper. He does amazing scrolls of moving figures. I'm hoping he will allow me to share his work on this blog. Seeing his work reminded me of the joy of painting the moving figure, something I don't do enough of these days.

There are two events scheduled. Next weekend, on April 29th, I will be painting in Califon on the green between Califon Fine Foods and Solaris Gallery. It is a fund raising event for a police officer recently diagnosed with cancer. Alex Radus will be the musician, Andrea, the dancer in this photograph at one of my openings at Monsoon Gallery, will be dancing and I will be painting. Hopefully Pete Stolvoort will also be painting. On May 20th I will be painting at Easton Yoga during the belly dance Hafla. I always return the the studio re-energized after a Zakar Event.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Shining Moments

There are moments in life that stand out and shine above all the rest. The opening of my solo show at Monsoon Gallery in Bethlehem, PA was not my first solo exhibition. It was, however, the first time that the work hanging on the walls was a true reflection of myself as an artist rather than a documentation of the work I learned to manufacture to satisfy the need to decorate walls. It was the first show of work that was a result of what I experience as creativity.

To have all three of my children, Nicole, Alexis and Michael, share that evening with me, wearing such smiles on their faces was a most precious gift. I know it was not easy for them to grow up with me as their mother. I read somewhere that in families, your great times can only be as great as your terrible times are terrible. I think that's true. We survived the bad times together because we were willing to get through them and come out the other side together, not separate. By being willing to stand by one another through those times we reap the reward of having fabulous times, now and in the future.

All three of them are absolutely amazing human beings and I am proud to be part of their lives.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why do I Paint Flesh Green?

This is a very early painting. It has remained one of my favorites. It dates back to around 1973. I lived in Boston. Most of my friends were musicians. I often photographed them using high speed black and white film for their promotional materials. This is a portrait of the lead singer of a band called Flyer. He had just gotten out of jail and was happy to back with the band. I didn't realize I was painting his flesh green at the time. Over the years, I've painted numerous green-fleshed paintings and I never realize I'm doing it until it's already done.

Image: Arnie - Oil on a scrap of canvas

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Music of Maria Woodford


Click to Listen

Maria and her music has been a constant inspiration. Painting during her wedding was a most delightful experience.

Image: Maria and Brian dancing together on their wedding day.
Watercolor and Ink sketch by Chris Carter

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My first post...a poem.

Dinner for Two
by pete lutz

I sit alone
Enjoying a candlelit dinner

When a housefly
Lands next to my knife
And begins dining on crumbs

He begs my pardon
And goes back to his meal

We discus the finer points
Of Australian wines and French cheeses

I am grateful
And he is a gentleman

Because he never asks why
The table is set for two

Communication, expression or both?

Whether the result of our creative energy is a song, a poem or a painting, it is a vehicle to communicate a thought, an idea, an experience or an emotion. Is it important that the viewer, or audience, experiences the painting in the same way that the artist experienced it? Perhaps, if the artist's intention was to communicate a specific idea or emotion. When the content of the work evolves during the creative process, as it does in my paintings, the viewer is invited to experience the work in a personal manner that might differ greatly from the experience of the artist.
After many years of trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to share with the world through my paintings, I realized that my intent was simply to help the viewer open the door to her own thoughts, memories, feelings and creative energy. I do not wish to impose subject matter. The dilema is that most viewers need to be able to identify something, a shape, a form, a familiar object, in order to become engaged in the painting. It took a long time for me to understand and accept this and ultimately to find a way to balance subject matter and my own creative process. Once I was able to understand the rules of the game I was able to let go of my resistance to subject matter and allow it to be an element in my painting. It no longer matters whether it is a figure, a bowl of fruit or a forest of birch trees. The painting evolves in its own way; the subject is only the key that unlocks the creative energy.

Image: Adirondack Birch Trees No.1
Watercolor Painting by Chris Carter

Sketchbook Drawings: Allowing personal shapes and forms to express themselves






Puzzled by the diversity of my work, people often ask which medium and which genre is my favorite. If I had to chose one tool and one way to express my experience of life, I would chose a pencil and my sketchbook in which to draw orbs and organic shapes in space.

For many years my sketchbooks were filled with the struggle to draw realistically, the struggle to see the world as objects rather than shapes and patterns of light and dark. I rarely used my sketchbook to draw the orbs, ribbons and button-like shapes that automatically come from my pencil when I'm not thinking about drawing. As a child, I filled the pages of the telephone book with these delightful marks. I left these marks behind on napkins and placemats when I traveled. These shapes that move through space have been a part of my consciousness for as long as I can remember. Yet, I never honored these constant companions with a place on a page in a sketchbook or on a canvas. The first time I allowed them to become a painting was during the summer of 2003.

On December 31, 2005 I opened the cover of a new sketchbook, picked up a pencil and was immediately distracted. When I glanced at the marks my pencil had made, I saw the familiar orbs and saucer-like forms drawn faintly on the page. The time had come to embrace these shapes and to follow wherever they might lead. A journal drawing, allowing the drawing itself to inspire each mark, become a daily meditation. Surprisingly, the meditative practice led back to the figure and a serious study of the skeleton to allow the figures to emerge from the paper with movement in space without a model.

Watercolor Painting: Restless by Chris Carter

Friday, April 13, 2007


What is it that gives an image a life of its own? What is it that is felt when a person enters a room and the room feels different? Is there something beyond the words spoken, the tone of voice, the shape, the size and the color? What is it that is invisible yet seen vividly through the eyes of the soul? Can that invisible force be captured and expressed in paint, clay, music, poetry, dance or film? Or is the attempt to express that force of energy enough?

Image: Hera Grows Suspicious ... Again
Mixed Media Painting by Chris Carter