Plein air painter Carla Bosch grew up in South Africa, where her eyes “were trained to find the beauty” around her. In these paintings, it shows.
Enjoy the following exclusive Q&A with Carla, and be inspired.
Cherie Dawn Haas:What’s a common question you hear about painting in general, or about your style or media?
Carla Bosch: People ask how I create such vibrant pieces. For me it’s all about the bold application of clean colors. To do this one needs to know exactly where you want to apply the paint and not overwork it after putting the paint down on the canvas. Also, I believe one’s heart ultimately shows on the canvas. I’m blessed with a very positive worldview, and I truly believe life is beautiful. This view on life helps me to create the way I do.
People also ask about my medium a lot. Especially when I use a palette knife. People associate palette-knife work with oils, but today’s professional-grade acrylics work beautifully for palette knife paintings.
Please tell us about one of your specific paintings.
I was a very fortunate Plein Air Texas participant last year and after half-finishing a painting in the freezing cold one morning, I decided to pack up and find shelter so I could thaw. On my way back into beautiful San Angelo, I saw this landscape with the sun barely breaking through the clouds highlighting the yellow wildflowers and just knew I had to paint it. By now it was not only freezing outside but it was raining as well.
I positioned our Toyota Sienna van so I could stand underneath the opened back door and kept the motor running with the hope the car’s heater would at least break the cold. The plan worked somewhat and while I was painting my husband brewed coffee on our mobile gas stove which kept me alive. This palette-knife painting, “Out on Road 87,” was finished on the spot with numb fingers and happened to be an award-winning painting at Plein Air Texas 2019.
What’s a common artistic challenge you face, and how do you overcome it?
One of my greatest challenges has nothing to do with the art per se. It’s about selling my own work and running the business side of things. I love to connect with collectors, but I don’t enjoy the salesperson role, and I definitely don’t like to handle invoicing, shipping, taxes, and all of those really boring things that really need to be done. How do I overcome this challenge? I married well! My husband helps me with almost all of the business side of my career, and I’m so grateful for this.
How has your South African heritage inspired your art?
South Africa is a geographically color-rich country with a lot of diversity, and South Africans love the outdoors. I was brought up to appreciate the beauty of the rugged coastline, breathtaking winelands, the arid but peaceful Karoo, the wild bush, and everything in between. My eyes were trained to find the beauty around me and I had the opportunity to put my impression of this beauty onto canvas. Fortunately, South Africans love buying original art, and they love bold impressionistic work.
The one thing we didn’t have in South Africa, though, was a plein air culture. Unfortunately, it is not always safe to paint plein air in South Africa. Especially when you’re out on your own. The upside of this scenario was that I did most of my work in a studio where I was forced to work from memory and draw from my emotions when I created my paintings. This process allowed me to be a bit more bold with my approach, and I learned to create landscape paintings without direct references.
Painting in a studio also meant I just painted a lot more, and I believe the sheer amount of time spent painting helped me to grow as an artist. This learning curve was invaluable in my career. All of this set me up not only for local success, but also launched me into the international arena. I am so grateful to the US, who awarded me with an extraordinary-ability green card on the back of my South African career.
What differences have you seen between the art worlds of South Africa and America?
The US art world is much more organized than what I’m used to in South Africa. I love the fact that I can pick and choose between countless art festivals and plein air events in the US. We also have a lot more “competition” in the US, and competition is great. As professional artists we not only inspire each other but we learn from each other. I love how most professional artists in the US seem fairly accessible and eager to share their knowledge. I also love how one can mostly paint en plein air in the US without feeling you are in danger.
What’s the best advice you’ve heard, or your favorite advice to give?
Paint fearlessly! Paint like no one is watching. I often advise artists to buy cheap canvas and decide beforehand you’ll paint absolutely fearlessly, you won’t show the end product to anyone, and you’ll destroy the canvas when you’re done. Take away all the pressure and have fun. You can even force yourself to finish the painting in one or two hours max. This will again help you to become more fearless. Also, try to draw and/or paint every day. Even if it is something really small. Practice practice practice.
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