Editor Note: Artist Daisy Craddock will be at Garvey-Simon Art Access Saturday, Feb. 12 from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. during the Carmel Art and Design District Gallery Walk. Garvey-Simon Art Access is located at 27 E. Main Street, Carmel.
The images are small and intimate, and the scenes iconic American countryside, but they are an entirely new experiment for established New York artist and art conservator Daisy Craddock.
Her exhibition, A Leap Into White, is in its last few days at Garvey-Simon Art Access in the Carmel Arts and Design District, and represents a shift from Craddock’s typical artistic style and artwork. Craddock, who has been painting since the 1970s, usually creates her paintings from a dark background, having to paint to bring images to the foreground with careful strokes and thick colors.
“This is quite an unusual show for me,” said Craddock. “But these drawings really functioned as a diary for my summer. They feel intimate and almost like escapism, or ‘getting out’ of the art world that automatically recognizes my works. It was more about responding to the spot and emptying my thoughts and thinking about nature.”
Receiving an MFA from the University of Georgia and working as an art conservator and artist since, Craddock has shown her pieces across the United States, though she draws inspiration from and shows typically in New York City, New England and the south.
Often creating large scale oil paintings, A Leap Into White is for Craddock an opportunity to show images she considers not only part of her own story, but also creates an intimate experience for the viewer, who must get up close to the small scale, colorful and personal images.
The abstract representational quality of the landscapes, and as a general characteristic of her work, helped Craddock to really define ownership in the pieces in the show. “I like landscapes, despite the historical baggage, because they are so accessible and operate on many different levels,” said Craddock. “This might have been crawl before walk, or rather leap, for me, because this is such a new experience.”
Craddock drew most of her pictures last summer in Massachusetts, where she was renting a house near friends. Used to painting landscapes in New York City, Craddock said she relied on the annual trips to new and favorite locations to refresh herself and help her escape from city life. The images captured in Massachusetts represent a favorite spot for Craddock, who often returns to places she’s visited before to experiment with her art.
“I like going back over a period of time, and seeing the imagery as it has changed. It helps me develop a vocabulary to describe the area in my art. I’m not interested in being a photorealist,” said Craddock. “Being back in the location feels familiar and helps me to crystallize the compositions I have been working on for years.”
While the show at Art Access really highlights a shift for Craddock as an artist away from dark into lighter backgrounds and newer forms to show her work, her passion for art takes another form in addition to her paintings. Craddock opened her own art conservation studio six years ago, but has been restoring art since the 1980s, and has a unique relationship with art as a conservator.
In several studios, Craddock has worked on pieces by Andy Warhol, Mark Chagall, and Diego Rivera.
“I rather naively thought that being good at matching colors would make me a good art conservator,” said Craddock. “Lucky for me, science was something I hadn’t explored before and was good at.”
In her conservation studio, Craddock especially enjoys working on contemporary works, though she said those typically are the most stressful images to restore. Older paintings might have been restored previously, while contemporary images might not have. Her hands are the first since the artist to make adjustments or clean the piece, and it is not an easy thing to do.
“I’ve learned to be tolerant of the condition of some contemporary pieces,” said Craddock. “They are going to have cracks and can never be brought to a 100 percent original condition. Paintings are like people, you have to be tolerant of age: if you’re 60 you can’t look like you’re 20 again.”
Craddock says the compartmentalization and separation between her own artistic sense and her work as a conservator allows her to be more creative when she reaches for a paintbrush again as the artist.
“You have to put aside your art ego and cannot bring it with you to another artist’s painting. I guess it is a good thing I compartmentalize like I do. Each painting I work with is different, with its own set of challenges for me,” said Craddock. “But the thing is when I return to my own work, I have more intensity and it is such a joy to paint again. I am lucky I have two passions in art.”