Carrie Jacobson: The Gift of Paint

Carrie Jacobson: The Gift of Paint

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Carrie JacobsonEveryone responds to grief differently. When Carrie Jacobson was 50, she lost her mom and was devastated. Feeling utterly unmoored, Carrie grabbed at things to steady her and finally grabbed a paintbrush. That tool changed the arc of her life and career forever.

After 25 years working for newspapers in many different roles – reporter, copy editor, page designer, creative director and editor – Carrie became a painter. She had never painted or drawn before, but felt inspired to create a portrait of their dogs to give to her husband for Christmas. “Had I been in my right mind, I’d have shaken my head and shrugged off the idea,” she said. “Instead I just did it. From the moment that my brush hit the canvas, I loved it. It didn’t take long for me to know that I’d found the thing I was supposed to do with my life.”

Harley, dog portrait, oil on canvas, 20" x 20"

Harley, oil on canvas, 20″ x 20″

Carrie then dove in deep. She took drawing and oil painting classes at her local community arts center. She signed up to join a plein air painting group and asked other painters for their feedback. She painted and painted and painted. After juggling work and painting for a few years, doing shows on weekends and vacations, she was exhausted. People were buying her paintings and she was doing commissions, so she and her husband downsized their home and she made the leap from the corporate world to the art world. Two years later, she is a successful working artist.

Her technique is to use a palette knife now, rather than a brush, a method which  gives a thick texture to her work and employs bold gestures. She layers paint on both black and white canvases, creating dimension to her images. Carrie’s inspiration is from the world around her: “I love the colors, the rhythms, the patterns of the natural world. I love dogs and cats, dramatic skies, broad horizons and mankind’s place in the midst of it all,” she says.

Afternoon Cows, oil on canvas, 36" x 48"

Afternoon Cows, oil on canvas, 36″ x 48″

Carrie still paints dog portraits, and is happy to create commissions of anyone’s pet, but she’s also added a lot of other subjects to her repertoire. “Cowscapes” are abundant in her collection; imposing steers with enormous horns and mellow looking brown and white cows loll on green pastures and in front of barns. Other creatures like birds, rabbits and bears are also recreated on canvas, often looking straight out at the viewer as if asking, “What are you looking at?” She enjoys painting barns and flowers. Watch her paint some sunflowers  in this video.

Carrie has also been working on extensive series of landscapes through what she calls “Origins Painting Trips,” in which she takes sponsorships in exchange for paintings. She has spent time recently studying out in the Southwest U.S. recreating the ranges of shapes and colors of New Mexico, Arizona and California. Deep rust red canyons and sun-dappled mesas, cobalt blue rivers and blazing yellow suns, green cacti and multi-hued ridges are revealed by her palette knife. She carefully studied extensive rock formations, wide open skies and mountain ranges, lending them a sense of movement through her gestural painting and attention to light.

Navajo Road, oil on canvas, 24" x 24"

Navajo Road, oil on canvas, 24″ x 24″

Carrie is keenly aware of the artists that came before her and has a sense of humor about her work. On her blog she wrote, “Last year, I painted in Abiquiu, NM, where Georgia O’Keeffe lived. It’s strange to paint in a place where a famous painter lived and painted. It would be like writing in Les Deux Magots, where Hemingway sat to write, or taking photographs of Half Dome in Yosemite, as Ansel Adams did. There’s a part of me that rejoices in it, and hopes and believes and feels that the spirit of O’Keeffe will guide my eye and heart and hand. Then there’s another part of me that’s hopelessly aware that people might be looking at me thinking that I think I’m Georgia O’Keeffe.”

Carrie is grateful that she found painting when she did and that the reception to her work has been so positive. “Most of all, I feel that I’ve been given a great gift,” she says. “I believe I was put on this earth to paint, to make people happy through my paintings and to find the joy in life myself through my paintings.”

Come see Carrie’s expressive work at Paradise City Northampton, May 23, 24 and 25.