Today we’d like to introduce you to Cara Olsen.
Cara, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
The flavor of my story is like most, I would imagine; bittersweet, and a bit like a slow building thunderstorm. In a matter of days, I went from being a relatively healthy 28 year-old to barely being able to get out of bed. As my husband and I searched for answers for whatever it was that had taken hold of my body, me, stricken with insomnia that kept me up for days at a time, I reached the depths of my despair, understanding for the first time what true terror and sorrow looked like. As the weeks turned to months, with no answers on the horizon, I became despondent and depressed. I considered ending my life. Yet, there, below the heaviness of my current state of life, was this tiny flickering light telling me to “HOLD ON.”
And so I did. I held on. For dear life, quite literally. I knew I needed a way to pass the hours, something to distract me from the minute-by-minute mental and physical assault. Formerly a writer, I didn’t think myself capable of the devotion and tedium required when building a novel. I wrote about my experiences, but I needed something new and different. Something that would completely take me outside of myself. Enter illustration. I don’t remember how I stumbled onto this, if I’m being honest. As you can imagine, I was hardly lucid most days; but I DO remember finding an artist with whom I resonated deeply and set out to make something as beautiful as she did. Initially I started with graphite, and I was a horrible, horrible drawer. But I got better, over time, and found that while I was immersed in the acting of drawing, the hours passed gentle and quick.
Suddenly there was joy in my day. I looked forward to the morning hours when I could take my supplies outside on the patio and sit beneath a tree, painting whatever my heart longed to bring to life. A few months later, I found watercolors and fell irrevocably in love. My heart flutters when the paint and water began to dance together. This luscious tango of movement, texture and color. Fast-forward six years, and I’ve never looked back. But I should emphasize my story isn’t about finding art. None of our stories are about finding art. Our STORIES are about realizing WE are the art. Messes and masterpieces in equal measure. Loved beyond all reason. Born to a Creator who divine DNA flows within every woman and man. Every single one of us has magic – the trick is being willing to acknowledge it. Life is hard. It bends us and breaks us until we are forced to come face to face with the epicenter of our naked souls and say, “I choose beauty.” Beauty in the broken. Beauty in the dark. Beauty. I have my sickness to thank for stripping away all pretenses. And I owe a great debt of gratitude to watercolors for revealing the woman waiting beneath.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My main focus are florals of all kinds. There isn’t a flower I don’t like, and it’s my mission to paint as many as I can.
Like us, each one has a story to tell. My work travels back and forth between highly detailed and loose interpretations. A couple years ago, I found myself struggling to enjoy the process – something for which we artists are striving – caught up in the perfectionist game. I felt paralyzed by my limitations, or rather by the tight restriction on which the foundations of botanical art are formed. I wanted something freer, something that didn’t require I stare at a photo until my eyes crossed, but instead called me deeper inside myself. It was then I coined the word “lootanical art,” which is the combining of techniques used when creating botanical and loose art.
It was like slipping into a well-worn shoe. I felt at ease, I felt like I could breathe. This is what I want for ALL artists, every human. For him and her to find something that is uniquely her own. To resist the temptations of this world to make something that is already acceptable fit, and instead dig DEEP beyond the shore to uncover something better. Real treasure, just waiting to be discovered. The greatest lie ever told is that only some of us are good artists.
It just isn’t true. Art manifests in a million different ways, and it is our responsibility to ourselves to find that manifestation and offer it with confident vulnerability to a world in desperate need of beauty.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
In many ways I would argue the conditions are much better for artists today. Years and years ago, any man or woman who set out to pursue a solely creative journey was viewed as both lazy and stupid. There was no money in it, and as the majority of the world is impoverished, what intelligent reason could one have for devoting herself to a career with minimal lucrative value? These days, the world recognizes artists for what they are. Light bringers. Beauty tellers. People in whom magic is cognizant and coruscating.
That said, there are more and more people making similar kinds of art, which can be discouraging to those wanting to carve out a unique niche for themselves. Florals in particular are a highly popular medium. There are days when I wonder if I should painting other things in order to bring a bit more diversity to the world. But I just don’t think I can. I LOVE flowers. I want to MAKE flowers. My advice to artists: create whatever sets your soul on fire and pay no attention to who else is doing it. Yes, someone else might make similar things, perhaps even “better” than you; but you must always remember that no one can make YOUR art. Only YOU can do that.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
You can find me on my website – RosalieGwenPaperie.com, and Instagram as well @rosaliegwenpaperie. I have a wide range of prints for the home, however I also specialize in custom design, whether it be a personalized stationery, hand-illustrated shoes, or memento pieces. I also teach watercolor! I love passing on the joy of learning to paint with others.
As for support, I am a mama, and between raising my daughter and managing my chronic illness, I have my hands VERY full. Being able to make art and run a business gives me more joy than I can even comprehend.
Any purchases and all referrals are much appreciated!
- Website: rosaliegwenpaperie.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @rosaliegwenpaperie