Featured Artist: Art Carlyle ‘About Face’

August 1, 2023 Steph Allesia No comments exist
In Love, by Art Carlyle, captures a moment and mood, but leaves room for viewers to imagine the scene from their own memories

About Face: a study of moods, personalities

There’s two meanings to the phrase, About Face, and both apply to Art Carlyle’s aptly named Featured Artist Show on display at the Rainforest Arts Gallery for August and September. One take is: A change in direction. Another is: To do with the human visage.

A professional photographer for many years, Art put down his brushes in his early 20s, and didn’t pick them up again until he moved to Saltair in 2011. For him the crossover between the two representational disciplines seems natural. “There’s so much that applies to both: the compositions, and looking at light,” he said.

On the other hand, they are very different pursuits.

Composition, for example, is a given in photography; it’s something you can create with paints. “In photography you are restricted to what’s there, so you have to find the composition,” he explained. “In painting you really don’t. All you have to find is something you like, and then alter it to make it in balance.

“I’m getting better at that. In a painting, you can take something and just move it. I’m not a slave to the photograph.”

A big part of Art’s—and his partner Daphne’s—photography business has been portraits, and his About Face show will zoom in on that aspect of his painting. It’s a genre where the distinction between camera and brush makes for completely different approaches.

Art doesn’t feel constrained by the quest for photo realism in his painted portraits. “I don’t have the patience to do a fine, thin oil painting. I want to get the essence of the subject in as few strokes as possible. If I wanted detail, I would take a picture,” he said.

There’s an evocative aspect to his portraits that makes you feel as if you’re looking at the subjects through a gauzy curtain. All the elements are there, in the painting, but you—as viewer—have to bring the images into focus, and along with that imaginative work, you feel a deeper appreciation and understanding of the subjects’ moods and personalities.

About Face will be on display at the Rainforest Arts gallery, 9781 Willow Street, Chemainus for August to September 29. He will hold a meet & greet Sept. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. For hours and more information visit RainforestArts.ca, phone 250-246-4861 or email info@rainforestarts.ca.


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