Artist Carrie Clayden showcases a selection of ethereal floral paintings filled with color and light. Visit her website to see more of her portfolio.
I wasn’t always an artist—I never even made art growing up.
Most people think you’re born an artist, that creativity and skill ooze out of your pores, but that isn’t my experience. I learned how to make art, discovered it was fun, and pursued it with verve.
There were some key turning points which helped me along the way, most notably reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. The book is a revelation; it helps you find your authentic self and it calls you to action. It changed my life.
Julia asks you questions like, “If money were no option, what would you like to do?” She encourages you to dream, and then manifest that dream into reality; she gives you “permission” to go on artist dates to discover your inner calling. Her book is a workbook and I believe if you do the work your life will change, that is how powerful it is. After completing her book, I quit my job and pursued art full-time. I have been a professional artist ever since.
My dream to have a studio to paint in came true; I opened a store in Benicia, California called Hip Chick Designs which combined my love of antiques with art classes. It was the birth of my artistic career. After seven years we moved to Santa Cruz, so I sold the shop to devote myself solely to painting.
During my years of study—both in classical training and self-taught—I chanced upon an artist named Robert Burridge whose influence had a profound effect on me. He used water, acrylics, his hands and a paper towel to paint. This was a revelation to me. He played with paint and enjoyed painting so much that I wanted to emulate him. I took his classes and continue to use his techniques as my artistic foundation.
I began to finger paint, which awakened a childlike wonder and joy previously lacking in my work. I struggled to find “me” in paint for many years, and tried many different styles and themes until I landed upon flowers. Claude Monet has always been my favorite artist and impressionism my favorite style.
Using my fingers to paint flowers was a game changer for me. It brought me such joy to dip my hands in color and dance the finger marks onto canvas like a waltz. Afterwards I discovered that dry brushing and use of light was the key I needed to achieve my goal of creating a dreamy, ethereal atmosphere.
I am very feminine, a dreamer, flower-lover and romantic and could suddenly see myself in my paintings. Being an artist takes courage. You have to continually find inspiration, motivation and grit to stay the course. It took me years to like my work, to proclaim myself a professional artist, and to have the guts to put my work online.
I love paint, the color, the feel, and the look—it is a never-ending wellspring of possibilities. What a gift to be an artist.