About Carmel Waldon
Some of the comments that I at I hear at shows stick, and one of my favorites was an enthusiastic “You must love nature!” I couldn’t think of a better compliment of my work, nor one that better describes why I paint. This love has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. As a kid, long hikes around our Colorado ranch turned into marvelous adventures, always leaving me with an even greater desire to explore creation. My dad, a sculptor, and my mom, an inspirational admirer of beauty, often pointed out nature’s wonders so that we could celebrate them together. Whether it be the pattern of lichen on jagged rocks, the spots on an Aspen’s trunk, or the swirl of the wind, I became aware at an early age that these were immesasureble gifts waiting to be received.
After receiving my BA in Fine Art from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, I taught elementary art for three years in Eagle Colorado before taking a three-month sabbatical on the Navajo Reservation. It was in the desert that I began to truly rediscover my love of nature and its value to me as a person and artist. Before I knew it, three months in Arizona became three years. I ended up living on both the Navajo and Hopi reservations, painting, teaching and becoming a student of the land and the friends I made there. The Navajo’s and Hopi’s respect for art, nature and the Creator drove me to recognize and honor my own ties to creation and creativity. During this time I was also working on a Master’s degree in Psychology, which ideally allowed me to study how art can help connect our souls with creation and God. When I came back to Colorado in 2001, I was eager to paint images, thoughts and feelings gathered from the mountains I call home.
I cannot begin to explain all I have learned from painting nature. After several failed watercolor attempts, my first successful paintings were of wildflowers. My preliminary portrayals of them were fairly realistic renderings of the plants, with little attention to their personalities. But the more I painted flowers the more I fell in love with them, and I began painting not just what my eyes saw in front of me, but what my heart felt. I am not sure when or how this break-through happened, but it has since transferred to all my nature-portraits. Whether I’m painting a blooming cactus, a child, a feather or a mountain, I paint not only how the object looks, but also what it says to me on a much more personal and mysterious level.
Now I do most of my painting in a hundred year old cabin at the same family ranch that I roamed as a youngster. On the days I am not painting, I still prefer to be out wandering the countryside and often find that what begins as a simple hike ends up being a scavenger hunt for things that call to be painted. Sometimes I am lucky enough to have my nieces with me. To me, children are constant reminders of the awesomeness of the creative process, and of all that is at stake when we turn our backs on it. They remind me that I must put on my kid-eyes and explore. I invite you to seek out the wonder with us!