Icard provides a lesson in abstract art

Published 10:00 pm Monday, April 13, 2015

Carol Beth Icard is an artist.  She’s an abstract artist and abstract art is a subject that confounds me. I’m anticipating the opportunity to learn from an artist who specializes in this medium.

Carol lives in an old, sturdy farmhouse on the edge of Landrum.  She greets me at the door, and we settle in with a cup of her favorite tea. The interior of the house is warm and inviting. We chat for a while as I learn her background.

“I grew up in the Berkshires in Massachusetts.  My husband had moved north as a child from the Carolinas. I studied as a nurse but it just wasn’t my thing,” she relates. “Still in the Berkshires and as a stay at home mom, I began to dabble in crafts.  I made a muslin, silk screened doll with yarn hair and sold her at craft shows,” she laughs.

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“Then I learned basket-making and sold both wholesale and retail. Realizing that creativity was natural for me, I studied at Pittsfield Berkshire Community College for four years specializing in visual arts.”

“Our daughters now live in Boiling Springs so it inspired us to head south.  The Artisan center in Chesnee steered us to Landrum and we’ve been here since 2002.

I love Landrum and the surrounding areas,” she smiles.

I comment on the several Italian cookbooks that I’ve noticed on her shelf. “Yes,” Carol reminisces. “I actually had a residency in Italy for my painting. I’ve been back several times and the Italian landscapes, especially the Cypress trees, still influence my painting. I love the food.  It’s so simple and healthy with fresh vegetables and local offerings.”

We move into her studio and discuss the abstract process. I express my lack of understanding and Carol offers me an explanation that I can grasp.

“It’s a result of inward thinking, introspection.  When I see something, I process it and it comes out in its own form. For example,” she continues. “You’re a writer. You take your outward sights and experiences and process them internally. These emotions, ideas, and feelings affect what you communicate on paper.”

I nod in agreement and begin to identify with the abstract thinking that shows up on her canvas.

“I start by laying the paint on the canvas,” she demonstrates. “Then I trust my instincts and see where it leads me. Lines and shapes are important to me, cracks in the sidewalk, trees on hikes, doorways, all figure in my paintings. And the viewer brings their own experience to the art.”

She didn’t always paint in the abstract. Her style began to shift in the early 2000’s. She describes it as a clash with abstract thought and reality. She leads me into the living room where a painting of a bottle and fruit adorns a space on the wall. It’s interesting to see her earlier work and chronicle her evolvement.

Carol and I have had an interesting afternoon discussing her artistic career, Italian cooking, and southern life.  We stop in the yard to examine a large birdbath that will need repair before summer.  She’s fond of the structure and I wonder if some of the cracks and color will find there way into one of her paintings.

Carol Beth Icard and Grace Lertora currently have an exhibition of their work at the Depot Gallery in Tryon running until April 29.  Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.