1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am a professional artist, an art explorer and owner of Carstens Fine Art Studio & Gallery in the Arts District of Downtown Scottsdale. Married for 29 years to a wonderful man who has not the least idea of what art is or why I insist on doing it and cannot stop. We have 4 grown children and 10 grandchildren (and counting?).
My reputation is built on the investigation of color in nature, particularly the skies and wide-open spaces. These oil paintings may take on an almost abstract look, a more recognizable appearance or morph to include geometric shapes and overlapping images.
My research into art making also includes experimental images and media. These paintings and drawings are conceptual, often lyrical and rarely seen by the public.
Perhaps one day I will put them altogether for an “Exploration of Art” exhibit. Maybe.
2. How did you get your start?
I began making art when I was an ill child bedridden with nothing to occupy my time. From those early paintings and drawings, I won my first art scholarship to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It was only for one summer, but it was an experience that would lead me to a life of making art in one form or another.
Producing art in various forms from fine art to graphic art to mural painting has engrossed all of my childhood, teens, university study and adulthood. However, after being my mother’s 24/7 care-giver, I felt an overwhelming compelling need to pursue fine art full time – no matter where it led. Having taken a sabbatical from the art world during those 4 years, I had generated a huge body of work (that did not look anything like my previous pieces) but had also lost almost every exhibition and gallery contact it had taken years to accumulate.
Faith brought me to the small studio/gallery of Lori Landis. She was encouraging and supportive. I thought having a place like hers was completely insane for me to even dream. When Lori called me a few months later to tell me the studio/gallery next to her was coming up for lease, my heart jumped into my throat and I just knew I had to dive off the cliff and figure out how to swim once I splashed. So Carstens Fine Art Studio & Gallery came to life. That was in 2010 – and I am still here – and continue to love it.
3. What inspires you?
Nature in all its forms is my inspiration – nature and music. I study the figure continually, but only because it makes me a better “nature painter.” I am especially drawn to color in the sunrises and sunsets of Arizona – or anywhere for that matter.
4. What do you like about Arizona?
Growing up lakeside in Minnesota, I gravitate to water (kind of funny when you know I live in the Sonoran Desert). A number of years on the rolling plains of Kansas intensified my need for wide-open spaces. Living in the desert the past 30 years has expanded my appreciation and affection for the diversity of land, fauna and sky that is uniquely Arizona.
5. Where can we see you(r) work?
My work is always available at my gallery in Downtown Scottsdale (7077 E Main Street #5) and also at any number of juried shows or exhibits around the Southwest.
Additionally, the UGallery of San Francisco, CA represents my work.
6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?
Before moving from this life into the next, I would like to see my work gain in notoriety, but mostly I would like it to be a legacy for my children who have been my mainstay and cheerleaders since birth. I have no money to leave them, no pride, and no heirlooms – I only have a wealth of art.
Outside of my work, I would like to travel through Europe for at least 6 months exploring history and painting. But if travel is not part of my future, I am okay with that too. I have my God, my family and my art right here.
7. What’s your mantra?
My mantra is “Amen” which means in Latin “So be it.”
This one simple word encompasses the gratitude and sincerity I yearn to “be” – grateful for every blessing large or small and genuine as a person and an artist.