Carol Aust resides in Oakland, California, and has been painting for over 20 years. Her acrylic paintings are deeply personal expressions of the human needs for connection, belonging, and spiritual intimacy—and also the fear of these. Her subjects are often at critical junctures of a spiritual/psychological journey expressed through metaphoric images. Sometimes optimistic, sometimes dark, her imagery can be interpreted in multiple ways, but always point in the direction of hope.
I try to paint from two to four hours every day. I used to work in oils but switched to the safer medium of acrylics while carrying my first child, and I’ve never gone back. The fast-drying acrylics require me to work quickly and more improvisatory. I sometimes use sketches and photos as starting places, but only to spark ideas. Painting, for me, is a mysterious art form; I’m never quite sure where the ideas come from, or where they may lead me. My paintings are heavily influenced by my emotional state at any given moment. I resist post-modern artistic detachment and feel that it’s unfair—even unkind—to my viewers to be too remote and impersonal. I listen to my emotions and strive to express them in metaphorical images that are concrete and intelligible to viewers, but wide open to interpretation.
I try to paint everyday. It’s a contemplative time where I can paint what I am feeling and listen to God’s response. A woman is in a dark forest, but she is striding forward with confidence. A couple is dancing on a very small rock in the ocean. Life is full of risk and danger, but I do not travel alone. I paint for reassurance and clarity. I also paint to communicate with others, to touch hearts on a different plane, with images rather then words. Someone will visit my studio and look at a painting and break down in tears, telling me that it reminds them of a daughter they lost, or a marriage that failed, or a deep yearning in their life, and I realize that God – for some strange reason that I can’t fathom – moves people through my paintings. It’s the most humbling feeling in the world.
White Window, Blue Wall
How does my view of the world or faith affect my work? Our lives have meaning. Every day is important. Everyone has a story to tell. We are all cherished by God, and I’ll spend my whole life trying to paint those truths.
Dinner Out 2
Carol’s recent work can be viewed on her website at www.carolaust.com