Quick Questions w/ Carol Ann Wachter

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With the Vibrant Femmes Gallery Exhibition opening this weekend in beautiful sunny Boulder, the artists are in full swing installing their works on our newly pristine walls. Amidst the beautiful chaos of creation, we sat down with our third artist of the show, Carol Ann Wachter, to dive into the mind of a remarkable Boulder fashion designer and phenomenal painter to unlock the secrets of her success in yet another segment of our Quick Questions series.

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To begin, how did you get your start as an artist?

I always knew I wanted to paint and design, especially from an early age. As I think on it, first grade I wrote that down in my autobiography.

What piece of work do you feel best represents you and why?

This is the latest piece I have done that I feel is best representing me at this time. 

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Carol Ann Wachter – “Blue Papercut”

How do your materials influence your work?

My materials greatly influence my work.  Currently, I am working with paper, ink and gouache.  I also enjoy spending time mixing my colors and allowing the paint to do it’s thing and drip.  It’s all just a part of the process for me.

Where do you go to get inspired?

I go on walks to get inspired and allow myself to submerge into nature, paying close attention to color relationships or the things that should happen to catch my eyes.  Sometimes I collect a leaf or rock with lichen on it for inspiration.  The rock museum at the School of Mines in Golden is always an extremely inspiring place.  I like looking up creatures that live deep in the depths of the sea, to remind myself how fascinating life is.

What have you learned through creating that has surprised you?

I have learned that creating gives me the greatest pleasure I can imagine. I feel the most alive when I am engaged in creating a body of work. It makes sense of the world for me.  I feel like I am tapping into the essence of something I need to understand or share with others.

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Carol Ann Wachter – “Green Structure”

Describe your work routine for your artistic practice (i.e. morning person / night person; how many hours at a stretch, organized or spontaneous – you get the idea).

I work at all different times of the day, but I try to paint at least four days a week.  It just depends on what is going on with the family.  When I am immersed in the work, I can function on less sleep and head to the studio at 5 am sometimes. Other nights, I go back after dinner and continue to paint until midnight. For my work, I try to ride the wave of inspiration if it is going well until I really need to sleep.  It’s a discipline but I try to remain fluid.  I also work on several pieces at the same time, as it gives me more freedom to keep moving.

What is it like when you collaborate with other artists?

In the past, I have done a few collaborations and always want to do more.  I think joining forces works best when two different skill sets come up with a project that will push each creative to a new place.  Recently,I have been talking with a friend who is an engineer wanting to get artists involved with new projects being developed and built here in Boulder.  I think this is a brilliant idea.  Artists are good at looking at the whole picture and thinking of ways to integrate practical applications in new ways.

How do you balance being an artist and making a living?

This has always been a struggle for me but thankfully, now that is ending. I wasn’t focused on making a living from my art, as I wanted to develop my work, my own vocabulary.  Artists who start selling too soon can become trapped into doing what others expect of your work or feel pigeonholed in the same place.  It is important to grow as an artist and give yourself that freedom to just do the work for yourself.  I have been a teacher, a baker, a waitress, a textile designer and started a fashion line.  For now, I am focusing mostly on the painting.

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Carol Ann Wachter -“Memory #3”

What is your process for coming up with new work?

The work naturally develops into new directions.  I don’t try to come up with themes or know what a body of work will be about until it is done.  I have a departure point, and I am seeing now after working for decades that I am very interested in focusing more on color relationships, observing those in nature and working back and forth from direct observation and abstraction.  I want light in the work.  I am going for a primal life force quality both observed from nature and unearthed psychologically.

Why do you believe art has value?

Art has great value if it is being made for the right reasons.  It is all about intention and how much an artists surrenders to their own work.  It takes a great deal of sacrifice, vulnerability and trust to really make something with substance and I typically respond to work that I feel is sincere.  Making art is part of our evolution as a species.  Probably one of the most important things to do.  I believe the world would be more peaceful if more people allowed themselves the space to create.

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Carol Ann Wachter – “Orbital Motion”

What is playing on your stereo these days?

I have been listening to a wide range of music such as Snatam Kaur chants to 80’s New Order to Andrew Bird.  I appreciate all different kinds of music.

Where is your favorite place to visit?

I love France and Italy, seeing all the master paintings and frescos.  Now, I  am interested in going to see James Turell’s work out west. Morocco and Tokyo are also places of extreme interest for me.

Which artist is currently inspiring you the most?

James Turrell.

What’s the best thing about your studio/ workspace/ workshop?

My studio in North Boulder is my place to rebel and explore my freedom.  It has also helped me become a larger part of the art community.

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Carol Ann Wachter – “Black Petal”

What do you do to stay motivated to create?

Staying motivated requires me to relinquish judgement.  I have to make the choice to believe in the work and not allow others to project their views on how to live onto my process.  Artists see the world completely different and this is why it is important for them to make the work and continue to share it.

Thank you so much, Carol!


To see more of Carol’s work, visit CarolAnnWachter.com.

For all the latest info, follow Carol on Twitter : @carolannwachter.

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