Her artwork is for the birds. And the bears. Wolves, foxes, and coyotes, too. But, that’s not surprising, considering Carol Heiman-Greene is one of southern California’s preeminent wildlife painters.
Carol credits a strong illustration background for honing her eagle eye for detail and fierce persistence to “get it right”. She imbues her subjects with an extraordinary degree of realism that comes only from knowing her subject inside and out. Exhaustive field research and countless reference photos give Carol an intimate perspective on an animal’s anatomy, behavior, expression, and appearance – both in captivity and in its natural habitat. No detail, however small, is overlooked – even effects imposed by seasonal changes. Finished paintings are a seamless amalgam of rocks, streams, fields, flowers, trees… often rendered from different sources. And, as always, Carol’s animals command a compelling center-stage presence.
Her animals come to life in the home-based studio of the Orange, California home Carol shares with husband Mike Greene. Her studio hosts a vast array of tools and materials, along with a few creature comforts such as a sofa and wide-screen TV. Artwork and awards dot the walls. Collections of curiosities peer through the glass of a vintage curio cabinet. But, make no mistake – this is no playground. Carol’s studio is very much a work area – and, when it comes to getting the job done, this artist doesn’t monkey around. The self-professed night owl has no trouble burning the midnight oil to meet her deadlines.
Inspired by techniques of the Old Masters, Carol employs the “lean to fat” method of oil painting, applying monochromatic sepia glazes to masonite or clayboard until the image pops from the board with full dimension. She then layers delicate glazes of color, from transparent to opaque, until the image is complete. Painting with acrylics requires a different approach. “Acrylics don’t blend and they dry quickly. I can’t change this, so I work with it, not against it. I use the glazes to achieve volume, and lots of gel medium so that my acrylics have the appearance of an oil painting. The result is that I get huge amounts of depth and volume, and my paintings have a very life like quality.”
Whether oil or acrylic, Carol’s paintings consistently and effectively capture the soul of her subject. See Carol in action this summer in her 20th Art-A-Fair season! Wild horses couldn’t drag her away… well, perhaps they could…