After retiring from a career as a flight attendant, C.A. (Carol) Pierce decided that her next journey would be a creative one. She began attending courses in painting at the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. Pierce entered into the world of oil painting, captivated by the medium's unique capacity to convey the effects of real light. However, after working with oils eventually led to the destruction of her workspace, the artist switched to acrylic and now applies a gloss medium over the surface of her compositions that mimics the gentle glow achieved through oil painting.
Pierce is known for her dreamy landscapes that evoke sentimentality and imagination. She hopes that these at-first moody pictures bring joy to her audience, along with feelings of warmth and love. Despite the melancholy atmosphere that dominates many of her landscapes, joy can be found in the ever-present glint of light on the horizon. Very high or very low horizons are characterized by a glow that hints at either the dawn of a new day or the respite found as the sun fades at twilight.
Pierce's distinguished hand is evident in Final Glow. The scene is a rural landscape, marked subtlely by an old fence that appears weathered by constant exposure to the elements. Tall vegetation is unkept, growing right up to the fence, and indicates that this field is perhaps no longer used. Warm reds and browns are reminiscent of Autumn and temporally place the scene at a moment when the weather is felt to be changing, but has yet to reach the rainy season that will turn this neglected corner into mud. Who knows what lies beyond the fence? Perhaps the fence provides security. Alternately, confinement. Are we even sure if our gaze emanates from the "inside" or "outside" of the enclosure? The world on the other side may be wilder than where we stand, or it may be bursting with opportunities that simply wait to be encountered - the answer is as variable as the viewer. A small, cool streak of color marks the left half of the horizon and disappears just where the sky bursts into flame. Again, Pierce leaves it to her audience to decide what this means - whether this is the dawn of a new day or a vanishing sunset bringing the present day to rest. The eye travels from obscure, nebulous reds to light glinting off the aged fence. Outside the fence, is a ponderous world only just hinted at in the hazy definition of twilight.
Pierce states that her hallmark style is one that she fell into naturally. Each piece begins with a particular idea or concept, but invariably evolves into something unique and non-reproducible. She frequently starts with inspiration from a photograph, but says that the landscape she ultimately paints is never a real place; it is rather a glimpse into an imagined world.
Pierce's paintings soothe largely because they center on simple shapes and minimally defined detail. Studying her canvases can become a meditative practice. As the viewer looks in, more details arise - though whether they come from careful observation or are coaxed out of the imagination is always a question. Pierce's monochromatic works are almost hypnotic as they draw the eye across the distant horizon and around to survey the almost evanescent intricacies of the composition. The convincing depth achieved in Pierce's paintings is subtle but alluring.
C.A. Pierce is a resident artist here at TSUGA Fine Art & Framing in Bothell. Her work can also be found at Alki Arts in Seattle.