Inspired by post-Impressionists, Carolyne captures intimate, light-filled interiors in her Shaftesbury studio
During lockdown, we were plunged into a world where both work and social life were played out in a virtual world – and we suddenly had the opportunity to sneak a look into the personal spaces of our friends, of colleagues and celebrities.
This intimate snapshot into the lives of others is not entirely new – artists have always taken inspiration from their immediate surroundings, often revealing much about their everyday lives.
The things we have in our homes say a lot about both us and the lives we lead. Interiors become a portrait of the owner; the human essence that is left behind when the room empties.
Carolyne Moran is an artist drawn to interiors: ‘But it has to be the right interior. It’s to do with light against dark, or certain reflections. Older properties inspire me … and I get very attached to chairs and odd pieces of furniture,’ she says.
In her studio, at the foot of Shaftesbury’s Tout Hill, alongside her paintings is an eclectic mix of antique chairs and objets d’art.
Antiques and art
Carolyne studied Fine Art at Bournemouth and Exeter colleges of art. After six years of training, she worked for some years with the influential Bath artist Saied Dai. She completed her PGCE at Cardiff College before embarking on a career as head of the art department in several Dorset schools. She has had regular exhibitions at the Mall and Bankside Galleries in London, where she has won two awards. Her work has been featured in numerous art publications including The Artist magazine, and she is listed in Who’s Who in Art.
Some years ago she ran an antique shop in Blandford where her love of beautiful furniture led to a constant hunt for new finds – many of which are included in her paintings.
Putting in the work
Carolyne is inspired by the Post-Impressionists Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, founder members with other young artists of the avant-garde brotherhood Les Nabis (The Prophets). This Parisian group played a large part in the transition from Impressionism to Abstract art.
After Les Nabis disbanded, Bonnard and Vuillard were involved in the Intimism movement, which is known for the depiction of everyday scenes, particularly within domestic interiors.
‘The first Bonnard exhibition I went to, I cried the whole way around,’ Carolyne says. ‘I found his paintings so moving.’
The influence of Bonnard is evident in many of Carolyne’s paintings – his interiors with their characteristic intimate and cosy atmosphere and his use of colour to capture the play of light and shadow. Vuillard was also known for his small-scale interior works, combining flat patterns with delicate colours. Carolyne’s favourite place to paint is sitting by the window with views of her garden: ‘I try to have discipline in my art. Painting is hard work. You have to set aside the time,’ she says.Once at work on a painting, she will often stay at the easel until late at night – and then lie awake thinking about the next stage. Painting mainly in gouache and oils, she will spend a day working out the composition in pencil or charcoal before applying a tint to the paper. Work may continue on several pieces at once and it could take up to a month to finish a complete painting.
‘Shapes, patterns and colours are important to me. I don’t do big landscapes. Often my flowers and garden paintings are like rooms. I’m often looking through the window … It’s your personality that you put on a piece of paper or a canvas,’ she says.Holidays in France offer further time for painting.
Each of Carolyne’s works tells a story. In Looking Through to the Little Stone Conservatory, someone may have just walked out of the room into the sunlight, leaving the door open behind them. Another shows a soft glow from table lamps – perhaps showing a favourite spot for the owner to sit and read.
Carolyne’s own garden – full of flowers, especially foxgloves – is also a source of inspiration. Everyday objects with a particular shape, pattern or colour can also capture her imagination. Her striped kimono hanging on the back of her bedroom door has been the source of several paintings and the red Aga – central in a current work in progress – has been featured several times.
The kimono and the Aga both symbolise comfort and a familiar warmth.
Carolyne opens her studio for the second Blackmore Vale Art Trail which runs from 9th to 17th September. Participants all live within a ten-mile radius of Shaftesbury.
Artists across a wide range of disciplines, from painting to jewellery, are opening their studios. Brochures are free and available in shops, pubs, cafes and libraries.