Streams of Conciousness : An Interview with the Artist Carol Sears

Sears_Wranora_48x48_Oil_on_Canvas_2015 Carol Sears' painting's are streams of consciousness surreal and abstract like automatic drawings. Rich in color, her breakdown in line usage and their free form complexity's are guided by instincts instead of intention. To Sears painting eight to ten hours a day in the studio without any real plan of attack is why her work is not only unique but it is also comforting. Shapes shift and transform the viewer reality into a surrealism, there is no wrong interpretation of Carol's - what you see is what you get (in your mind that is.) Carol doesn't suggest you look at them in any way but you're own. Last month Sears and her husband were gracious enough to let me and Carol's manager, Heidi Johnson into their home. A home filled with art, a backyard of Carol's sculptures, with a Koi Pond filled with fish over decades old. We toured the house discovering massive works that Sears created throughout the years from abstract large sculptural pieces to smaller figurative ones, until entering her home studio filled with available light, views of nature and the sounds of silence within a sanctuary filled with years of creative energy.
    Kirrawee_72 x 120 inches_Oil on Canvas I’m sure that people have compared your work to Picasso, and a few of other surrealists?
      People see different things according to what their experience is, everyone see's something different.
        There’s a little Dali in their too.
          Carol is very cheeky, charming and British, so of course she responds like this.
            If you say so…
              Do you have titles for all your work?
                No, I don’t. I used to use some aboriginal work but I don't do that anymore. I usually do “Untitled” or with a number. I don’t think they mean anything than what they are, really. It’s not some great psychological thing, it is what it is.
                  It is what you feel?
                    It’s a stream of consciousness.
                      Do you ever analyze it?
                        No. I just like to look at them. It takes a lot to do a painting. There's a lot of physical work and they are changing constantly since you are always trying to rework something you that isn't working.
                          Dreamtime #4 - 22- 2010 72x 60- Oil- Canvas How do you start each one?
                            I begin with the drawing of abstract shapes and after I use color to fill in and go over the shapes while I draw so for instance this one is a good example of that - I drew that in and some of that I eliminated and sometimes I added something different.
                              Sail Away - 12-077- 72 x  120  (1) When you start a painting do you have your color scheme picked out?
                                Once I’ve done the drawing I can more or less get a feeling, then I'll put it down and come back to it, it's like you go forward and you have to take a step back, and then you take two steps forward and by the time you've repeated the process a few times, the painting is finished.
                                  Do you turn you ever turn your canvas around?
                                    I have but I normally don't do that.
                                      Would you consider yourself an abstract contemporary artist?
                                        I think everything abstract, I think figurative art is all abstract to me, it's all the same. Doesn't really matter. Mostly these few years I've been making things that are a lot less figurative. I thought I would do some more portraiture just to get just to mix it up a bit.
                                          Dreamtime #2 -12-041- O.C- 72 x 60 Do you ever start with acrylic and then go over with oil?
                                            [Chuckling] About three times in my whole life.
                                              Heidi Johnson: The three times you ran out of paint.
                                                I don't know how or what I’m doing.
                                                  My mind can't stop analyzing and comparing Sears' work to other famous artists. I want to box her and be able to point and say this is that and that is this, but it is nearly impossible. Her brush strokes vary from thin pen lines to thicker shapes leaving negative space creating a narrative from symbols. Her works are simple yet intricate with detail so finite, the viewer can almost get lost in them.
                                                    Sears_Murrambiji_48x48_Oil_on_Canvas_2015 It’s pretty surprising what people do see.
                                                      What have you gotten before?
                                                        They will look at pieces at random of my the whole and begin to construct human faces. The eyes the nose and a mouth. But it's not a person it's just random shapes and it's really fun to do too. I start with a pencil and then I do a brush stroke.
                                                          I know this is a very common question but who are your inspirations?
                                                            That's a hard question. DeKooning is one I'll say that, all artists that I have ever seen are inspirations. I take from everyone I’m a real robber. I love Rubens, Picasso, Man Ray, and all the impressionists, everyone.
                                                              [She's very cheeky and very funny]
                                                                Heidi : Her early work was a lot of figurative work and portraits.
                                                                  When did you start painting?
                                                                    Carol tours me around her studio, showing me various older and newer paintings, and explaining how she goes back into them even after years go by.
                                                                      Sears_Untitled_48x48_Oil_on_Canvas_2015 One piece in particular reminds me of 1920 Paris at Gertrude Stein's rue de Fleurus where she would play host to a flurry of literary and artistic geniuses.
                                                                        I would have never have thought that.
                                                                          We continue to look through various works, including one's from Lancaster Museum of Art and History exhibit.
                                                                            Three of them in a row beautifully lit so they looked great.
                                                                              You know, I never gravitate towards abstract art but I really dig it. (Realizing I had used slang to describe the work of a sophisticated British artist who I'm conducting an interview is a little mortifying, but Carol's very real cool about.)
                                                                                Heidi: That's been the main thing with Carol, people say “abstract is not always my thing” but I think because it lends itself to coming up with your own interpretation and the colors are just like whoa. You step into the colors and then you’re like this is anything I want it to be.
                                                                                  My mind continues to reroute into a few different worlds while looking at Sears’ work. Each piece can literally transport me from Paris impressionist to a futuristic sci fi world like Mad Max, quite a juxtaposition in my own right. Her pieces are naturally in a state of coherence and flow like water through the use of color, brush strokes and line work. There is no one correct interpretation to her work. There is however a consistency in style and elegance engaging through strokes of the brush.
                                                                                    Heidi: There’s been a number of people who have compared her work to street art.
                                                                                      That's true they have, it's funny because I don't see it.
                                                                                        Yeah I can see that, if it was on a wall, you could see it.
                                                                                          Heidi : You’d be one of the best. Complex street art.
                                                                                            Laughing through the thought of Carol with a Montana spray can on a scuffle then realizing she actually would be one of the best if she were to be labeled a "Street Artist" or "Muralist."
                                                                                              Heidi : This to me is gorgeous. I see very 60’s, visionary, mid century --
                                                                                                I don't know how that happened.
                                                                                                  A little art deco too?
                                                                                                    It could be a painting enlarged in itself. I can take probably any part of what I have done here and blow it up on the canvas and it would be another painting.
                                                                                                      Dreamtime #3 -_12-055_72 x 60 We continue to another section within her home studio to look at more of Carol’s work.
                                                                                                        Do you paint everyday?
                                                                                                            How many hours a day to do you paint
                                                                                                              8-10 hours I used to do 12. I like to work on one whole area and after you get used it and how it works.
                                                                                                                Do you piece it together like that, with the sketch but do you ever mix it up from sketch to brush and vice versa?
                                                                                                                  Sometimes, if it hasn't worked properly then I'll try it again.
                                                                                                                    It's very cool because you get lost in them.
                                                                                                                      I can appreciate it better now, than when I was doing it. When I was doing it i just went with my feelings and what I thought would work and then put it aside, you come back to something after a year, it looks so different and you wonder how the did I do that? So I have to really look at things after a while and figure it out.
                                                                                                                        How long does it take you to do each one on average?
                                                                                                                          It varies, maybe a week or two. It varies if there is a lot of detail.
                                                                                                                            And you have a show coming up?
                                                                                                                              Early in 2017 with Launch Gallery. I'll have a lot more painting by then because i work everyday. I rarely do anything else. The only real comfort I get is when I come in here. I keep thinking of my mortality now, I don't want to go to lunch or go shopping. All I want to do is paint. Say whatever you want to say, and then you can die happily.
                                                                                                                                And so is life.
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