Today we’d like to introduce you to Carstens Cyndy.
Carstens, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I have known since I was very young the only thing I wanted when I grew up was to be an artist – a painter. It has been a long journey to reach that goal. I have had careers as an illustrator, graphic designer, art director, and muralist while owning 3 small art-related businesses. I didn’t realize during all these endeavors that I was actually in training for my next undertaking – owning a small art gallery and exhibiting/selling my own artwork in the Arts District of Old Town Scottsdale.
I closed a successful mural business in 2006, and spent the next several years as my Mother’s full-time care-giver. I thought raising 3 children on my own was difficult but care-giving was by far more challenging. I would not trade those years for anything, but I spent many days in torturous helplessness trying stop her failing health. This too led me to where I am today.
After my Mom’s passing, I spent the next year trying to piece together what was left of my heart and soul. Almost 1 year to the day of my Mom’s death, my best friend died suddenly in her sleep. I felt defenseless, vulnerable and despondent. I began work on a series of paintings focused on the color of light and shadows found in the heavens above us as a way of healing my brokenness. The skies became my restoration, my salvation and gave me a new-found sense of hope.
Quite by providence, an opportunity to open a studio with gallery space in Old Town Scottsdale appeared out of the blue. I didn’t even know how to operate a gallery, so I just painted with passion and sincerity allowing the gallery to grow on its own – learning the logistics organically. Two years after opening Carstens Fine Art Studio & Gallery, I moved to a more prominent location on Main Street in the Arts District. I was very excited about the opportunity and looked forward to the future.
The studio & gallery were open for business at the new location for 1 day before receiving the news that would destroy my world, tear me apart to the core and leave me feeling more powerless than ever before. My son was paralyzed and had been diagnosed with an incurable cancer that was destroying his bones.
Moving ahead almost 4 years, my son is still with us – fighting multiple myeloma with a fervor. I continue to paint as means of conviction, hope and healing. My dream of being a full-time fine artist painter is here – it just looks an immensely different than I expected.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am a painter. I spend time every day drawing and painting when I am not working on the business side of owning a gallery and being an artist.
Art is personal – for the artist and for the individuals viewing it. I believe of utmost importance for artists is the characteristic of seeing the world from their unique point of view. Over years of making art that point of view develops and changes, modifying the art they produce.
My own art has evolved over these many years, and yet there are attributes that have survived over time. Layering aspects (images over images) and combining a number of varying genres within a single painting (eg: abstraction, impressionism and realism) have consistently appeared in the work . . . But not always.
Put simply, my inspiration is the sky. Sounds almost too elementary. I will find cloud formations and color combinations on the drive home in the evening, or when going out to pick up the paper in the morning, or stepping outside during the day and being struck by the subtlety of the multitude of shades of gray in the shadows found overhead.
Additionally, I am captivated by trees – especially the twisted and ragged ones that tell a story of trial and survival. I draw them in my sketchbook regularly or take photos to use as reference material. Many of the paintings will have trees or other images superimposed using paint I make in small amounts using graphite powder as the pigment. This creates the perception the trees/images are drawn with ink or charcoal, but are indeed paint. Drawing on top of oil would not be permanent, whereas the paint is indelible. It is tedious work – some trees or complicated images can take up to 50 or 60 hours to paint. However, the effect is worth the toil.
The message of my work is simple. The colorful compositions are the music in my head; the skies are the light in my soul and the passion of my heart providing a sense of contentment, peacefulness and hope. Trees, cacti and other images tell “our” stories of sustenance. My artistic point of view revolves around making art that can be visual music for all generations and sentiments.
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
Defining success is based on a person’s life experiences and emotions. Success can be monetary without much real feeling of accomplishment. I believe the definition of success is truly a matter of the heart rather than the head and is completely unique to everyone. My internal dictionary delineates success for me as finding happiness and emotional peace in the work I do. I will continue to feel consummate and make art regardless of financial the outcome of the gallery.
Financial struggles for an artist in order to continue working are very real despite anyone’s interpretation of success. Moving enough work to maintain the gallery and continually produce new work can be paralyzing. I am blessed to consistently market sufficient paintings to support the studio/gallery space, purchase supplies and have a little left over for other expenses. But there are those months when doubt creeps into the back of my brain.
When supporting the arts and artists, you do more than help us persevere. Monies earned from the sale of our work buys groceries, pays the utility bills (plus much more) and encourages us to continue the work we know we were born to do. Artists reflect our society, portray our ever-changing landscape and preserve fleeting moments of time. Your support literally provides for our existence and the reality of making art.
One cannot measure success in dollar signs, but I guarantee when an artist is not worried about the bills piling up, a roof overhead or putting food on the table, the release of stress allows for much more creative thinking . . . and doing.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My work has been accepted into a number of exhibitions around the country. These exhibits or shows are generally for short periods. I was honored to exhibit “Sea of Skies” recently in the National Weather Service Biennale located on the University of Oklahoma campus. I continually compete locally, regionally and nationally. The website calendar and exhibition schedule will have current and upcoming shows listed.
I keep regular hours at the gallery/studio in Scottsdale and my work is always on display. I balance my time between studio time and gallery business providing for new work on a regular basis. Find business hours and days of operation on my website cyndycarstens.com.
- Address: 7077 East Main Street #5
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
- Website: https://www.cyndycarstens.com
- Phone: 480-946-3217
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: c.carstens.art and cyndy.carstens
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Artist-Cyndy-Carstens-Art-Embracing-Awareness-132345816781330/
- Twitter: carstens.cyndy