A morning walk through Aldea becomes extraordinary, producing scenes in which “a certain light or colors are arranged to extract an emotion.”
Guy Maupassant, the pessimistic 19th century French author, once described his unique sensory experiences:
“From time to time I experience strange, intense, short-lived visions of beauty, an unfamiliar, elusive, barely perceptible beauty that surfaces in certain words or landscapes, certain colorations of the world, certain moments.”
Carol Tippit Woolworth can relate. During morning walks through Aldea with her husband Sandy and their Corgi, Bridget, the familiar neighborhood becomes a potential subject for her art. It’s a continuous sensing and searching “for beauty in the familiar, unseen until revealed by the work.”
Her website tagline is;
“Oil and gouache paintings working toward the abstract figurative.”
What does this mean? “As a young painter I didn’t have the confidence to trust my inner voices, so my worked tended to very realistic,” she explains. “I wanted an apple to look like an apple, an orange to look like an orange. I wanted them sitting on a table, or in a dish, and I wanted my work to look just like that particular set up. Over the years, as confidence has been gained, my work has become more expressive, and thus more abstract. It is still defined by realism, but now I contort those figurative objects into color and shapes and contrasts of lights and darks.”
Carol's Aldea landscapes were unveiled in 2018 at the New Concept Gallery in Santa Fe, where it was intriguing to see the neighborhood interpreted into bright oranges, yellows and teals. This dramatic use of color isn’t new; she’s been drawing and painting since she was four years old. "I would go into my room and create some interesting, very colorful stuff. My Mom saved some of these early drawings. I look back at them now and think "that's not bad," she chuckles. "And some of it was pretty damn good.”
A great thing about living in Aldea is meeting so many interesting people. During our interview at her 3 Calle Vecinos home studio, I learned that Carol grew up in Santa Barbara with a Mother who encouraged her talent. After much informal study at an early stage, she earned a Fine Arts degree at UC Santa Barbara, with an emphasis in Painting. After more than 30 years, her work has been shown in numerous museums and resides in various collections throughout the U.S., Mexico and Europe.
New Mexico inspires her. In addition to Aldea, she’s fascinated with the City of Rocks State Park between Deming and Silver City. The park encompasses one square mile in the dramatic Chihuahuan desert, having been formed about 35 million years ago when a large volcano erupted. Erosion has since created a stunning, otherworldly landscape that is depicted in Carol’s recent Earth|Stone|Water collection, featuring pieces executed in oils, oil sticks and cold wax on linen, board and gouache featuring intense contrasts of darks and lights and layers of color “scumbled and scraped” over wood panels.
Carol’s City of Rocks paintings are below.
You could say she works in enthusiastic cycles: painting her first horse has led to an equine portfolio; other collections include hummingbirds, still lifes, trees — and now — tiny people. These miniature human figures deployed in various constructed environments are a recent innovation, a return to her early days as a figure painter before moving on to still lifes and landscapes, resurrecting her love of the figure but one that is less realistic and more abstract.
Woolworth refuses to limit herself to one subject. “I’d get bored painting the same thing all the time.”
At home in Santa Fe, she paints from her studio on the ground floor with a straight on view of the Jemez Range. It's seemingly relaxed; oldies music plays in the background, the patio door is open. But there’s a lot of work happening. “My studio is a mess. I paint in a frenzy. Pieces lean against walls and tables, and paint is splattered on the floor and walls and me. Books of my favorite painters, David Park and Nicolas de Staël, are open near my easel as references when I get stuck.”
The hard work has begun to pay off. Since relocating three years ago, she’s accomplished her goal of getting into a Canyon Road gallery as well as signing with the Hat Ranch Gallery on the Turquoise Trail. “I want to continue the journey of painting, constantly honing down my images so that I say the most, while saying the least, if that makes sense. It’s a challenge. And having people “get” something from my work.”
She will also be part of the Santa Fe Studio Tour the last two weekends in June 2019.
Email Carol for dates to visit her Calle Vecinos open studio on various Sundays from 11 to 3:30 throughout 2019.
By Jeanne Bischoff - Article first appeared on Aldea Outside.