When Carol Guzman paints from nature, she not only observes her subjects – she unobtrusively enters their world.
Carol explains, “I paint in my studio using reference from my digital Nikon, but I found I wanted more than to just capture the image of my subject. I wanted to relate to them as they are in their natural environment.
“A photographer friend suggested I use a walking blind, which is a camouflage tent one wears and is able to walk around instead of sitting in a stationary blind. The camouflage material that covers me has a long snout-like extension that I can place the larger camera lens in. From my blind, I watch birds for hours and see how they interact, how they move, how they characteristically tip their behave.
“It’s only when I feel that I really know them, that I return to my studio and begin to paint.”
Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1951, she worked and studied in New York City and the Hudson Valley for 13 years, during which time she received an art degree from Hunter College, studied techniques of the Old Masters at Parson's School of Design, and worked as portraitist and editorial illustrator. In 1990 she headed West, traveling, painting and finding her heart's home. Carol now lives in south central Montana near the Shields River, with her husband, well-known artist Clyde Aspevig.
Captivated by her new environment, Carol began painting studio still lifes displaying the West’s vivid colors and Native American artifacts. Soon she was also drawn to bring images of the natural beauty she saw around her into her studio to be transformed into works of art.
“Everything expresses nature, unfolding in layers. When I paint Native American artifacts, I see each one as an expression of the natural materials they were originally made of. When I paint in and from nature, I’m more directly connected.
“For me, painting is a process of experiencing layers upon layers of connectedness.”
About 20 years ago while hiking in Sedona, Arizona, Guzman and her husband realized that observing the extraordinary red rock landscape mixed with the unique green vegetation evoked a similar sensation to snorkeling on a coral reef. They coined the term “land snorkeling” and recently created a website, www.landsnorkel.com to share this idea with anyone interested in exploring nature in a fun and interesting way.
“When I was a child, I would run free in nature for hours. I was at home there. Today’s child suffers from a loss of wild places and from an overload of technological distractions. Their time playing and being creative in nature has diminished drastically.
“Clyde and I created Land Snorkel.com to help children, and adults, slow down, pay attention, and have fun in nature and to learn from nature.”
Carol is grateful for her childhood lessons from nature – learning to see and appreciate the beauty that surrounds her –which provide the foundation for who she is as an artist today.
“After all, what is being an artist?” asks Carol, “For me, being an artist is nothing but free play. Like a child in nature, I lose myself for hours and find joy there.”
Carol’s work has been shown at the Master’s of the American West Show at the Autry National Center, Burbank, California, the American Masters at the Salmagundi Club, New York City, the Forbes Museum Gallery, New York City, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wassau, Wisconsin, among others. Her work is also in the permanent collection of the Booth Museum of Western Art in Cartersville, Georgia.