For Carla O’Connor composition is key. She often talks about making shapes, creating and shifting balance, as a way to take the viewer on a journey of engagement with the painting. Much of what she discusses would strike a chord with abstract painters. Although she uses abstraction, she is at heart a figurative painter. Her preference to discuss her work in terms of structure and technique, before narrative and symbolism, is bore from her classical training and long career teaching, rather than a lack of connection to her subject.
The figure is what she has always drawn and what she knows best, and her use of compositional devices and technical skill are employed to connect us to the subject. Her work expresses the passing of time, and lives lived through a series of experiences - mundane to remarkable.
She is always aware that her imagery is constructed through mark making and the physical act of painting, and that the act of creating is never completely divorced from the resulting artwork. What’s more she enjoys the process and unexpected turns a work takes as it moves through concept to resolution.
The human form has been the touchstone of my art from my earliest training. I strive to combine the three-dimensional figurative form with the two-dimensional abstract surround. By using the basic gesture of a traditional pose, I hope to integrate semi-representational figures onto the pictorial space using hand, mind and heart without mechanical aids.
There is usually a seed of an idea or a bit of a plan when I begin, but I am mostly directed by the work as it progresses. It is a dialogue, a give and take, of sorting puzzles, discovering solutions and trying to stay in the process as long as possible. I resist the tendency to visualize the final image. I work with gouache and watercolor in layers of thick and thin color, lifting and layering the surface with lines - curved and straight, unique shapes, varied textures, and strong contrasts within a thoughtful composition.
My work addresses the passage of time - the human response to the internal and external events that change and shape our lives. The work has evolved like a continuous spiral, always circling around to a new beginning and provides me with a visual narrative to express all those moments and experiences—both minuscule and monumental. It is my means to communicate a personal vision into the strengths and fragility of life.