Discovery favors the well-prepared mind. ~ Jerome Bruner, The Process of Education
A lifetime of art appreciation, fueled by growing up in NYC, New England, and Jamaica, W.I., studying in NYC, Boston and Italy, living in SoHo NY since 1983, international travel, and, of course, the study of art history and practice of creating art; are the foundational influences on my art work.
In high school and college, I was fortunate to study with three woodcut masters Leonard Baskin, Antonio Frasconi and Leona Pierce Frasconi. Bent on discovering my Italian roots, I spent a year of college at art school in Italy immersed in the classical techniques of drawing, printmaking, sculpture and painting.
As I reflect back on my younger years, what I was particularly drawn to was creating art with my hands— the textures of the wood, carving, rubbing the ink on the wood block to transfer the image onto rice paper. Sculpting clay, plaster, soap stone, silver into three-dimensional representations was another passion. Perhaps then, it is not surprising that in my later life I am returning to natural materials to create art — using my hands as I did with woodcutting, printing, sculpting and painting when I was young.
Why did I stop making art? I like to think that I never did.
I discovered aesthetic education in college through teaching art classes to children. These experiences led me into developmental psychology. I was fortunate to be at Harvard University for my masters and doctoral study when The Harvard Graduate School of Education was the educational partner for Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) – the creators of Sesame Street, The Electric Company, 3-2-1 Contact, and Square One TV. In addition, pioneering work in interactive educational media and visualization technologies was brewing at MIT. These opportunities allowed me to use my creativity to design electronic images and stories to help children discover new ways to learn.
There is a unifying theme that intersects with all my professional forays. As the Director of the Graduate Program in Educational Media and Instructional Design at Columbia University, the founder of the CD-ROM company Mind Works Media, most recently as the Director of Education at the innovative animation studio Flickerlab ( www.flickerlab.com) , along with many other inspiring media production partnerships, the pioneering work in designing interactive media and visualization curricula allowed for artistic expression using compelling visual metaphors, simulations and fantastical microworlds to engage learners of all ages. **
Now making individual hand-made art objects that impart a personal way of seeing the complexities of the natural world has captured me. A return to the analog world from the digital?
I had so much fire in me and so many plans. ~ Claude Monet
The educator in me has another agenda as well. As significant aspects of our natural world are in danger of deteriorating or vanishing entirely due to climate change, I am interested in preserving the wondrous impressions of nature that have sustained me aesthetically and spiritually. The anticipated destruction of many of our natural treasures may not be apparent by the end of my life on the planet, but it certainly will limit these experiences for future generations. My hope is that the art I create will preserve some of that magnificence. My work attempts to represent impressions of natural phenomena I have been lucky enough to see, smell, feel and cherish in my lifetime.
* ART HISTORIC INFLUENCES
The historic references and artistic approaches listed below inspire my work.
Still Life – Traditional and Contemporary ~ A still life painting is a work of art that features an arrangement of inanimate objects as its subject. These items usually arranged in a familiar setting. They often include organic objects like fruit and flowers and decorative household items. The term “still life” is derived from the Dutch word stilleven, which gained prominence during the 16th century. While it was during this time that the still life gained recognition as a genre, its roots date back to ancient times. Today, many artists put a contemporary twist on the timeless tradition by painting still lifes of modern-day objects in stylized artistic approaches. Much like the pieces that inspire them, these paintings prove that even the most mundane objects can be made into masterpieces. (Nature Morte (French), Natura Morta (Italian) Stilleven (Dutch)
Reverse Painting ~ Reverse paintings are painted on glass where an image is painted onto one side of the glass to be viewed in reverse from the other side. This technique originated with religious works in medieval Europe, spread to Asia via trade routes, was introduced to Japan as an import from China during the Edo Period (1603-1868), and even showed up in America when the early settlers made it popular with family silhouettes in lieu of photography. It has had a long tradition in folk art practices by diverse world cultures. Contemporary versions tend to depict everyday scenes and popular cultural references. I experiment with reverse painting to create dimension and layering. To me the texture that results are reminiscent of printmaking — especially woodcuts.
Impressionism ~ Impressionism is a style or movement in painting originating in France in the 1860s, characterized by a concern with depicting the visual impression of the moment, especially in terms of the shifting effect of light and color. Following these master painters my artistic style seeks to capture a feeling or experience rather than to achieve accurate depiction.
Pastoral – Picturesque Painting ~
Pastoral Art depicts the beauty and serenity of a lost pastoral lifestyle. The paintings romanticize farming, meandering livestock, the seasonal changes in the picturesque countryside. Traditionally these classical works have been popular with urban audiences and collectors.
Botanical Art & Illustration~
Botanical illustration is the art of depicting the form, color, and details of plant species, frequently in watercolor paintings. They must be scientifically accurate but often also have an artistic component and may be printed with a botanical description in books, magazines, and other media or sold as a work of art.
These illustrations, which appeared in seed catalogs, natural history publications, and herbal medicine books, became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although the golden age of botanical illustrations is long past, these works are still popular with collectors.
The emphasis of botanical illustration is usually more on science than on visual art. Botanical illustrations should be based on:
- observation of living plant material
- reconstitution of dry plant material if possible
- inspection of plant features using a microscope
- accurate measurement of the different parts of the plant
- work with expert botanists who can provide the necessary advice as to what aspects to emphasize
- a very good understanding of the morphology of the plant – shapes and form are a great help in distinguishing one plant from another
- identification of the key (unique) features of the plant – at different stages of its life cycle
- association with an herbarium specimen (when part of a scientific collection) and notes of its habitat and growth
The standards for contemporary botanical illustration tend to be set by the professional botanical illustrators who work for the botanical gardens and professional publications.
Nature in Art ~
Contemporary “Nature in Art” can take many visual forms, from photorealism to abstraction. The compositions sometimes mimic nature, by seeking to visually replicate objects as they actually appear in real life. But abstract paintings can also take their visual cue from actual forms in nature.
“Nature In Art” artists aim to open our eyes to the intricacy and beauty of the natural world. It can simply be a pretty picture that appreciates nature for what it is… or it can be a challenging piece expressing our complex human connection to nature. Art can serve a purpose beyond being an object of beauty: it can also address pressing environmental issues and topics about conservation, sustainability, preservation, biodiversity, and threatened habitats. Art has the ability to interact with and educate the viewer about these issues, spreading awareness about such important topics.
Sustainable and Conservation Art is a movement whose aims are to ignite discussion (and adjust our perception) about the way we use our resources. They paint nature in art in the form of beautiful and idyllic images of plants, animals and landscapes.
Nature in Art is a British museum devoted entirely to artwork inspired by nature. Opened in 1988, Nature in Art is the world’s first museum dedicated exclusively to fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature. Currently its growing collection spans 1,500 years with work from over 50 countries by more than 600 artists. It includes a broad range of styles and media, periods and cultures and presents its paintings in the context of a wide range of other nature inspired items. Wallsworth Hall, Twigworth, Gloucester, Gloucestershire GL2 9PA England, firstname.lastname@example.org
I admire the practices of these artists because of their instinctual need to take care of the things we cherish in the natural world. I believe, as they do, that art can help renew, or spark anew, our connection with nature. And therefore, we will be more likely to protect and preserve it.
My father, Giovanni Natale Parachini, died when I was one-year-old. When my mother remarried, I added my stepfather’s name, Seal. When I married, I added my husband’s name Wanner. As a professional, I have been known as Carla Seal-Wanner. Carla Francesca Parachini is my birth name. I have decided to return to it as my artist name as it reflects my true identity.