Wild Life Art with Carla Grace

Hello Carla! We were stunned by the quality of your work – and extremely impressed with your background. We have seen that you were born in South Africa and has immigrated several times growing up before settling in Australia. How has that influenced you as a person? And do you believe that living in Africa and the experience you had there has led you somehow to become the type of artist you are today?

Hello! Thank you so much. Yes, I have immigrated 5 times in my life so far, and believe it has formed the fundamental approach I have towards life. After you pack down your entire life to 30kgs of luggage on multiple occasions you soon learn the truth about where value lies. Not being able to keep things like art and luxury items due to moving so much, has made me seek to create them for others. Being around wildlife in the 90s while living in Zimbabwe was a truely unique experience. It formed in me a deep love and intuitive understanding of nature which I have carried with me through out my life.

Correct me if I am wrong, but you have been, most of your artistic career, focused on realistic wild life painting. I have seen on your social media side by side photos of the photographs you use as reference and your finished artwork – and it’s amazing how your paintings bring so much life, depth and strength to your characters, more than you can actually see from the original photo of the animal. Is that how you bring the “artist personal touch” to your realistic paintings? And being self-taught, how difficult was it for you to develop your artistic style on the realistic front?

The changes I make to the painting compared to the reference photos come from my gut feeling about the animal itself. There is also an element of technical challenge I like to give myself with each artwork - testing out new ideas on lighting or method of detailing - while representing the animals in the best possible way. I guess this would translate into the personal touch. I don’t always know how I will alter the painting until I am in the thick of it, as usually the animal creates its own language on the canvas as I work.

I love that I have been able to teach myself and develop my technique over the years. I didn’t notice any specific difficulty in doing it myself, as I would just adapt to the limitations I faced and work through it. I am still developing my technique, and I think I always will be. I feel grateful that I wasn’t handed an instant method from the start, because the stubbornness I needed to cultivate in order to work through all the hard times taught me a lot. I think that it’s because of being self taught that I have the endurance I need to make this line of work a success.