Carmen McFaull on Family Ties and Coastal Connection
The work of Carmen McFaull is distinctive. Soft, sweeping brushstrokes, a subtle impressionistic technique and an emphatic use of colour together evoke emotion within us, as if witnessing the seizure of a fleeting moment. After years of a successful artistic career, Carmen discusses the informative experiences and inspiration behind her work, the role of the current climate on her career, and coming to fruition in her creative calling.
Carmen’s painting practice started with her mother’s influence; being an artist herself, the kitchen table often became the studio space. “I could see her works in progress, the trials and excitement with the triumphs and the pride in selling her work,” Carmen recalls. “So painting at secondary school, progressed into using my sense of composition within the classroom whilst teaching. After focusing on motherhood, I was able to re-kindle my art journey and aimed at exhibiting in local exhibitions and entering art awards. These proved most successful and rewarding, and was reinforced by my husband’s remark to give teaching away and concentrate on being a successful artist for my profession.”
Predominantly noted for her alluring seascapes, Carmen McFaull accounts the dynamic Western Australian coast as a rich source of inspiration for her work. “[It] presents itself as an artist’s dream whether it is over on Rottnest Island, from bay to bay, or up north to Broome, or down south. I love painting water in its various contexts – reflective marks, fluid movements and rhythms or as a peaceful band within a subject.
“That said, I love figurative subjects and how I can capture their moods, strengths of character, humility, beauty…” In her portraits, Carmen mentions that the venture into this style of art began with her children. “My own children became my models to begin with; then figures became part of the scenes and added more meaning to them.” Likewise, the personal connection to the coast informs her seascapes, and the subtle memory-like movement in which they’re depicted. “I have such fond memories of my time at the beach as a child. So these images take me to the edge of the earth! Five years ago I moved down to Dunsborough in the Margaret River Region and have fallen in love with the possibilities here.”
Throughout the years of her career, Carmen has released the rigidity of realistic representation and has welcomed elements of abstraction, in a search to simplify her work. “About eight years ago […] I enrolled in an abstract course, devoted the whole term to pushing the realistic boundaries that had built up over all those years and found new approaches exciting,” Carmen explains. “Because I have been fairly independent with my association with galleries, I was able to do this freely without being “pidgeon-holed” into one marketable style that would compromise my integrity as an artist, the freedom to grow and take on the direction that is meant for me on my artistic journey!”
“Through my work, I would like to move viewers emotionally,” Carmen explains. “Whether it is through my use of colour combinations, or the subject I choose, or the way I invite the viewer to be a part of my painting – to walk through my work in a unique and personal way,” Carmen says. In the current climate, her drive to share her gift with art lovers beyond her local community fosters a sense of much needed connection in these times. “Bluethumb has given me the opportunity to engage with art lovers beyond my Western Australian audience. It enables us to easily bring art into homes thousands of kilometres away. Just fantastic!”
Understanding the motives of an artist unequivocally sheds light on the work they produce. As this year throws its unpredictable curveballs, Carmen has found the chance to take a break through lockdown, and has decided to focus on re-connecting with loved ones. “This sounds impossible, but can be done in different ways. I am planning for another exhibition this year and have been searching for what is still important for me to share, to say about my work.”
How much we can expect to see of Carmen’s work remains a mystery, as she sets herself objectives for the future. “I have made a promise to myself: that when the last canvas in the cupboard is done, so am I! No panic yet, as I have plenty left,” She jokes. “It makes me be more selective in what I have still left to say. I am not wasting time on repeating myself.”
Bring the seascape home; browse Carmen’s profile here.