Carl Linstrum transitioned out of college with a degree in printmaking, to working in an art gallery, eventually owning his own gallery and now working as a full-time professor of foundation studies at SCAD Atlanta. His own artwork is based in beauty, in both subject and technique; however, his choices are motivated by his desire for deeper meaning and communication through visual means.
How did you get started as an artist?
I graduated with a degree in printmaking from University of South Florida in 1992, then moved to Atlanta. After a short time, I was hired to manage a gallery in an area called Morningside. Not having access to any printmaking facilities, I started working on drawings and paintings in the corner of my dining room in a tiny Midtown apartment. I brought them into the gallery one day to frame, and one of the owners saw them. He bought one for himself and asked if they could show them in the gallery. They did, and the work started selling. That started it all!
What are your biggest influences?
I have always been influenced by the works of great artists and the places where I live, or have lived. Early on, the Renaissance greats such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio made a big impact on me from Art History study and travels to Europe. The colors and qualities of light from this period still resonate in my work today. I also make sure to stay in touch with the work of the the artists in my region, especially those working in similar subjects, styles, and media. I know how I filter this visual information, but I am often inspired by what they are doing in their work. And strangely enough, I've been influenced by photographers and video artists such as Sally Mann, Bill Viola, and William Kentridge.
What five words best describe your work?
Evocative, atmospheric, poetic, tactile & ephemeral.
Tell us a bit about your technique.
It is often evolving, sometimes in small ways and sometimes dramatic, but I'll share what I'm currently doing with the Lights and Shadows work. I start with my own photographs, which are sometimes manipulated and layered together in Photoshop as a digital sketch. Then I work out a basic composition of landscape forms in charcoal on paper mounted to custom built panels. A layer of microcrystalline wax is painted over the drawing and worked with a heat gun and paint knife, which is similar to frosting a cake. At this point, I layer in thin veils of oil glazes to develop color and additional subjects, such as the light circles. With many of the paintings, I'll go back in with sand paper or the paint knife to remove and scrape back paint to create chance marks and unexpected surfaces in the paint. I'm happiest when I can't predict what will happen, so these moments of working reductively are often a favorite.
What is a typical workday like for you?
There isn't one. I work on many paintings at the same time and I very rarely enter my studio with a clear plan of what I want to accomplish that day. The thing that keeps me going as an artist, probably more than anything, is discovery and surprise. If I plan too much, then I just feel like a technician. If there's anything constant, it might look like this:
Turn on the lights, turn on the music, paint. Take the painting off the easel and hang it on the wall with the others. Roll the chair back, look and think for a while. Take down another and paint some more.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
I love to make things. Paintings and drawings most of all, but some days it just doesn't matter. I make furniture, woodworks, books, digital design, and lots of other things too. It never gets old too see the ideas that spring into my brain get a chance to live as an object in the world. I also never get tired of hearing what others see and get from my work. Communication through art is a big thing for me, and I know what I'm trying to say. But I'm even more interested in what others interpret from my work because that adds to the quality of discovery in my process.