Posts filed under ‘Landscape’

New Painting: “NM Museum of Art”

My dream trip to Santa Fe last fall yielded a whole new direction for my art: I started painting buildings. You can see the other paintings I’ve completed so far of Santa Fe buildings here and here.

This painting depicts the New Mexico Museum of Art, located right in Santa Fe. The museum is housed in a graceful and traditional New Mexico adobe-style building. I took lots of photos both of the exterior and the courtyards. We had a little spot of luck that day: some genuine sunlight. Most of the trip had been cloudy, but that day we had some sun. Everything looks better in the sunlight!

"NM Museum of Art" by Barbara J Carter, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 14x11"

This view is from the museum’s main courtyard, looking up at the museum’s second story. I loved the play of shadows and sunlight across the walls. The pink glow of the adobe in the sun contrasting with the deep shadows of the heavy wooden beams really struck my fancy.

This painting is for sale. You can find purchasing information here.

If you go to Santa Fe, I highly recommend visiting the New Mexico Museum of Art. It’s not too overwhelmingly huge like some museums can be. You can ramble around and enjoy the beautiful building, the grounds, and the art on display at a leisurely pace.

March 29, 2010 at 9:30 am 2 comments

Santa Fe Painting: Christo Rey

Last fall I visited Santa Fe, New Mexico, and totally fell in love.

Looking about with an artist’s eye, always on the search for something new to paint, I snapped lots of photos to refer back to later.

The natural scenery with its bizarre-shaped buttes and crazy-colored cliffs was amazing, but what really stuck my fancy was the adobe buildings. The graphic shapes made by the sun and shadows on the smoothly rounded forms fascinated me. These buildings are like no other kind of architecture: earthy and warm. Organic.

One afternoon we drove past this church, and I just had to stop and snap some photos. I love the solid, grounded shape of its asymmetrical towers.

Christo Rey by Barbara J Carter, 11×14″, acrylic on canvas

I’m working on a series of paintings of adobe buildings from Santa Fe, and this is the first. I don’t really know anything about the church, I just liked how it looked. The sky that day was gloomy and foreboding, but the tiniest little hint of light was picking out the curved edges of the building like a tiny glimmer of hope amidst the gloom.

Here it is in a frame:

Like all my paintings on canvas, it’s wired and ready to hang, with or without a frame. The sides are painted a solid red color and the canvas staples are out of sight on the back, so a frame is strictly optional. Click here for purchasing information.

February 25, 2010 at 9:08 pm 7 comments

Some Good Press

It’s always exciting to see your name in print. This one’s by far the nicest blurb I’ve ever had in a newspaper. And I didn’t even have to write it! Thanks to the Ventura County Star.

VenturaStar2009 (from the Ventura County Star’s arts supplement “timeOut” for July 10-17, 2009)

It’s a nice distillation of information about me and my art, quoted off my website. (You can read it if you click on the picture above and then zoom in.) It gives the information for the exhibit I’m in at the Red Brick Gallery (in Ventura, which explains the Ventura newspaper’s interest).

Apparently the gallery sent the newspaper several images from all the artists in the exhibit, and the paper chose to print one of mine. And write up a story with it. They didn’t have to pick me, but they did, and did a very nice job of it too. I’m chuffed!

The story references my exhibit at the Red Brick Gallery in Ventura, California. The show went up this Monday and will stay up through August 16, 2009. If you’re in town on Saturday, July 25, be sure to stop by the gallery between 6pm and 9pm for the artists’ reception. I will be there! And so will that painting in the newspaper article (the painting looks much better in person than in newsprint!).

Thanks to the Ventura County Star for the lovely writeup. You guys rock.

July 15, 2009 at 5:04 pm 5 comments

New painting: “Winding Road”

At last!

"Winding Road" by Barbara J Carter, 10x8", acrylic on canvas, 2009

"Winding Road" by Barbara J Carter, 10x8", acrylic on canvas, 2009

I started this painting so long ago I’m not sure when it was exactly. It was last year sometime. 6 months ago? More? At any rate, I got it about 75% done, got stuck, and set it aside. That’s what I do when I’m not sure where to go next with a painting. I’ll just prop it up somewhere in my studio and leave it alone for a while. The idea is that my subconscious can work on the problem in the background while I busy myself with other things.

Usually this works great. Within a few days, or sometimes a few weeks, I’ll get re-inspired and get back on track. But that didn’t happen with this painting. It sat and sat, month after month, and I never quite figured out what to do with it. I began to think I’d never finish it.

Until a couple days ago, that is. Suddenly I was tired of working on all the big canvases I’ve got in progress right now. I felt like painting small again. And there it sat, a little 10×8 inch canvas 75% done, just needing a little finishing-up. I grabbed it and started in. I had no hesitation, it was obvious what it needed. Like I’d never been stuck at all. I finished it up, signed it, and here it is!

I have no idea why it took me so long to finish it. But I’m glad it’s finally done.

"Winding Road" framed

"Winding Road" framed

This painting depicts a curve in a dirt road. The road is Mulholland Drive, the famous Los Angeles landmark. What most people don’t know is that part of Mulholland is an unpaved dirt road, closed to automobile traffic but open to pedestrians. I took a very nice walk on it in 2007, and took numerous photos along the way. (One other photo became the basis for another painting, “Dirt Mulholland”, which is also available.)

What I love about this painting is how it takes a perfectly ordinary (perhaps even rather dull) scene, a dirt road surrounded by scrub, and turns it into something special. Anyone can make a glorious scene look glorious. I think it’s more interesting to take an ordinary scene and turn it into something magical.

This painting is sold. Please visit my website for more paintings like it.

April 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm 3 comments

New Painting: “Satwiwa”

If you read my “Work in Progress” posts (here, here, here, and here) you’ll recognize this painting.

"Satwiwa" by Barbara J Carter, 40x30", acrylic on canvas, 2009.

"Satwiwa" by Barbara J Carter, 40x30", acrylic on canvas, 2009.

Satwiwa is the Chumash (Native American) word for “the bluffs”, and was the name of one of their villages. Satwiwa is now the name of an educational center located within the Rancho Sierra Vista park in the Santa Monica Mountains (near Los Angeles).

I took a lot of photos during my recent dayhike in Rancho Sierra Vista, and I think many of them may end up being used for paintings. At least two have so far (I’ll post the other one soon). I got some really good reference material there. And that was just one visit! That’s really good news, because many of my dayhikes end up with no usable material at all. So I guess it all balances out.

This painting is available for $1200. It is wired and ready to hang. It is not framed, but the canvas is stapled neatly on the back and the deep sides are painted solid red, so it can be displayed without a frame. I offer free delivery to most of the Los Angeles area, and shipping via FedEx Ground to anywhere else in the world. Purchasing information is here.

February 17, 2009 at 8:32 pm 5 comments

Work in Progress – Finishing the Painting

After I’ve filled in all of the obvious gaps and gotten past the worst of the hard part, the next question comes up: is the painting done yet? What more does it need?

When is a painting done?

Well, there’s the famous quote (famous amongst artists, anyway): “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” (Leonardo da Vinci)

I knew an artist in Boston who caught so much flak from critics about his paintings looking unfinished that he wrote his artist statement about how much he likes the raw unfinished look. (It sounded a bit defensive to me.)

It’s up to the artist to decide. There’s no right or wrong answer. It depends on what you like.

Yeah, it sounds simple in principle. In practice, however, it’s another thing altogether. It can be an agonizing decision. I might like a painting as it stands, but then I’ll wonder if it might be even better if I just add a little more? It’s scary because sometimes when you add more the painting loses its sense of freshness or spontaneity. It’s kind of like gambling. When do you walk away from the table?

“Overwork” is a word you’ll hear artists use when they feel that they’ve ruined a painting’s charm by laboring too much over things like small details. I do worry about overworking my paintings (although small details are not so much an issue for me). In my case, it’s more about diminishing returns. For example, I like to have bits of the original red background peeking through here and there, and if I overwork a painting the red tends to get completely covered. So one big question for me is how much of the red do I want showing.


In the case of this particular painting, I decided to let just a little more of the red background show (slightly more than my “usual” amount). The painting felt balanced and I liked the effect, so I decided to let it be. I could have worked on it more, but I’m not sure I’d have been any happier with it than as it now is, so I’ve declared it finished. And I did sign it.

I’ll post more about this painting (with a clean photo) now that it is really finished.

February 12, 2009 at 12:12 am 3 comments

Work in Progress – the Hard Part

All the planning and prep work and the initial sketchy “roadmap” painting is done. Now the real work, the meat of the painting, begins.

This is, for me, the hard part. A lot of decisions come up. What color to make this area, what value for that shadow, will they contrast sufficiently, is the sky going to reflect the colors in the foreground, what shade of blue to use, whether to make the grass yellow, isn’t that tree a little too bright, maybe should tone down the green, and on and on.


Sometimes things get so messy and complicated, I call it the “ugly phase”. I can’t take credit for this phrase, but it sure is apt (at least sometimes). A few lucky paintings glide effortlessly from prep to finish, and I’m always grateful for them. Most, however, at least briefly (and sometimes not at all briefly) pass through the “ugly phase”. Lots of artists use this phrase, so at least I’m in good company. It’s the stage when the painting looks hopeless, ugly, patchy, too contrasty or too muddy or too dull or too bright or whatever it is that ails it. (By the way, “too dull” is rarely the problem for me. But you get the idea.)

This stage, by the way, is the reason I don’t normally post work-in-progress photos. It can be a little like watching sausage being made.

Sometimes I have to set the painting aside and leave it alone for a few days (or even weeks). Usually I’ll leave it out where I can see it all the time and mull it over. Sometimes, if I’m badly stuck, I’ll turn it to face the wall so I can’t see it most of the time. Then when I do look at it, it’s a fresh look.

I suppose things would be easier if I had an exact plan of how I want the painting to look when it’s finished. Most of the time I don’t have a specific plan. I don’t know which direction I’m going to take the painting until it happens. Even if I do have a plan, sometimes I’ll change my mind partway through based on how it’s going. These decisions mostly have to do with the color scheme of the painting, since the composition is pretty much fixed ahead of time.


Next: finishing the painting.

February 10, 2009 at 8:33 pm 4 comments

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Barbara J Carter

I'm an artist. I make paintings with dots.

I work in acrylic paint, in a couple of distinct styles: landscapes and abstracts.

Native to California, I've lived elsewhere and only recently returned to my home state. I now live in Los Angeles.

I mostly show my art in outdoor festivals in California. I also occasionally show my work in art galleries or open studio events. You can see an up-to-date list of upcoming shows on my website (click here).

I invite you to sign up to receive my free email newsletter, in which I list my upcoming shows and talk about my latest work. I send it irregularly, a few times a year.

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Follow me on Twitter: @barbarajcarter

Why I call my landscapes neo-Pointillist landscape paintings

A bunch of my abstract dot paintings

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