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by Carol N. Wells

Carol Delaney’s paintings capture movement, and the intricacies of nature’s details with a creative abandon that holds the viewer spellbound.

Of her own work Carol says, “I want to evoke that sense of mystery and surprise when out in nature. When you first look around, you may only see generalities, but then spot a damsel fly or lizard. The more you look, the more you see and become aware of. Things become visible that you didn’t notice the first time, and so you continue to look for more.”

Carol has accomplished this in her paintings, along with a vibrancy that compels the viewer to look and find more and more in her artwork. As I spoke with Carol, I felt she gave voice to the vast subconscious wellspring that artists draw from.

Although Carol took some art classes in college, she is basically a self taught artist who has done artwork all her life and has always been a person of growth and self expression. Initially, she didn’t want art to be a career. While growing up, she lived behind Vassar College and spent a lot of time drawing the buildings and vines that covered them. This was a time when she was very controlled, drawing every leaf in a vine, and paying close attention to detail with her felt tip pen. One day, walking back from sketching, a drawing fell into a puddle, and of course, the ink bled. Carol loved the result. During college she took an etching class and ended up printing a piece upside down and on top of itself. It was through these accidents that Carol felt she had her breakthrough in finding her own uniqueness. She ventured into a process that was entirely her own. “I had to figure out a way to express the relief pattern in nature (the positive and negative) and found that I do everything backwards,” said Carol.

Part of that process was due partially, from lack of funds. Carol used everything she could find as painting tools. The other part of the process was born out of leaving behind the detailed photo-realism of her drawings to creating something that evoked some feeling, some emotion other than, “oh that’s a pretty barn.” “When you let go of control,” said Carol, “you get into feeling.”

Carol attended Hope College, Grand Valley State University and Michigan College. With her degree in Special Education, she and her husband Tom came directly to Moab.

“Tom also has a degree in ‘special ed’ and teaches at Grand County High School. He studied shamanism with a Lakota Sioux teacher and had visited Moab,” Carol explained, “I loved Georgia O’Keefe’s work and always wanted to come to the southwest. So I drew a latitude line on the map and anywhere below that line, I decided I would take a job. It just so happened there was an advertisement from The Council for Exceptional Children in Moab, and I was able to take the position. I teach students with learning disabilities, that are emotionally disturbed and intellectually handicapped at HMK middle school. But my teaching is very separate from my artwork.”

Carol spent her first year in Moab connecting with the land and the rocks. She felt that with all the reproductions of petroglyph art she had encountered, nothing had made her ‘feel’ them. Her aim was to bring in that feeling of aliveness, a sense of playfulness, and an honoring of the sacredness of these symbols. During her second year living in Moab she painted her first two paintings. ‘Canyon,’ was inspired by the area surrounding Flat Pass Trail; and ‘Layers,’ involved the area leading to Dark Angel.

Carol’s aim was true. Her paintings resonate, giving rise to more and more surprises as they are studied. As Carol puts it, “I try to include that in my paintings - there’s always more to look at in life because the paradigm shifts.”

Carol’s technique has evolved and changed along with her own evolution. Part of Carol’s process is, “To get connected to a specific place and take a bunch of photos. I find that I see a painting and go back to the place to connect. I look for patterns in nature and identify what struck me about it; why I find beauty in it. What will I do with it and what is it about the piece that I want to say. I look at how to give movement to a non-moving medium. I always ask myself, ‘what is the intention?’ With my latest piece, I wanted to honor the beauty in the water. The piece titled ‘Mitochondria’ is about the interconnectedness of everything – the stuff that is alive in everything. ‘Black Dragon’ was about the beauty of the Dragon and the movement of the swell. With ‘Abundance,’ I wanted to capture and honor the intricacy and mystery of pictographs. These are the moments when I play with a painting to see what it becomes. Before I start any painting, I always say, ‘whatever you become.’ Then I dive into myself. I play with my intellect and throw in randomness. I try to open up and let what’s inside, out. I have a theory that nature and its colors go into me and then come back out of me, and I am changed by it. But it never ends up like the picture in my head. When it’s complete, it’s always a surprise. That’s when acceptance has to come in. In my earlier art-making years, I was always asking the question, ‘Is it, and therefore, am I, good enough?’ There is a type of blindness that goes on for me, because the picture in my head doesn’t look like the picture on the page so it must not be good enough. I found out pretty early, that you can’t get love from doing art. Trying to draw or paint pretty enough is entrenched with, ‘your picture is so wonderful, you must be wonderful.’ Revolving around all of it really, is self acceptance. That acceptance and rejection is an internal process rather than personal rejection from others. So, the axiom of ‘am I good enough’ has instead become, ‘This is what I am. This is what my artwork is.’ When you get your emotional health in order, your creativity can blossom. It becomes indicative of the beauty and harmony in your life.”

In talking with Carol she admitted that the fear of starting any new painting is a given. “I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have angst when beginning a new piece of work. But, even when I have to present to galleries, there’s a certain amount of fear. So the fear just moves around.”

Carol calls her paintings her friends since it is like looking at a part of herself and liking those parts of herself. For Carol, realizing why she paints and why she is an artist are the same reasons that apply to many creative endeavors. It is, as Carol puts it, “because these images have not existed before and I’m the only one who can do them.”

Although Carol began with small drawings, her paintings now average 30” x 40” framed and matted. It takes Carol about four 8 to 10 hour days to complete one painting. She has employed the print process of gicleé (pronounced gee-clay) on photo satin paper to reproduce her artwork. This process captures intricate details and delicate color changes much better than the standard 4-color separation process. Carol’s husband, Tom Eyler, who is also a writer, produces the art cards that talk about the areas that inspired each piece. It is Tom’s way of honoring and being grateful to the area along with an opportunity to educate people about caring for the land. Both Tom and Carol share an idea of collaborating on a book.

Carol’s gicleé prints are available at The Rock Gallery, Buck’s Grill House, High Desert Gifts, El Carpintero and Uncle Beebop’s. Her prints vary in sizes that range in average of small 10” x 15”, medium 22” x 17”, large 33” x 25” and retail from $50 to $225.

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