Carolyn Meyer was born in Bakersfield, CA. She earned both BFA and MFA degrees from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Since 1995, Meyer has been teaching painting, and in parallel has been exhibiting her work. She is currently the Director of the School of Fine Art Painting for BFA and MFA students at the Academy of Art University. In 2019, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree by the Academy of Art University. Also, she has served as a Juror for the Sausalito Art Festival for eleven years.
Over the last 25 years, Meyer has been exhibiting in many solo and group shows. Her works can be found in private and public collections, such as the Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, White & Case, New York, John Swire & Sons, London, Margaret Hearst, San Francisco. Her work has been featured in American Art Collector Magazine, SouthWest Art Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily Femme, and Marin Independent Journal.
Painting is my life’s work and a calling I am drawn to, day after day, year after year. For decades, work swings like a pendulum between aspects of realism and abstraction, which is at the core of each painting. And all the while listening to music.
These paintings reflect a passion for place and process. The places I paint are deeply embedded locations where I spend my life. The process is the way I paint. The places are where I live my life and continually revisit year after year. San Francisco and New York represent home and freedom. Freedom is translated by the way I paint with an energetic force. This process begins with abstract under paintings. Then comes structural ideas for the underpinnings of architecture. I calculate what and where of design using geometric lines and shapes. Painted drawings on the canvas begin this part possessing an allure of mystery and yet is a type of organized visual language seldom ever seen outside of the studio. This signals to the next layer to be both bold with how I apply the paint as well as increase the amount of paint. Next is a heavy load of thick oil paint that is often a mix of several values and colors. The details are not the focus, the paint is the focus and how to make it appear like something recognized. San Francisco and New York share the building structures that move upwards with roads and freeways slashing through as a ground. This is the basis for cityscapes that reflect my life and these locations.
Painting interiors act quieter and slower. Inside subjects slow the process down, with the subjects being still and specific. They appear with movement, yet they retain the process of layers that lead to a heavier application of paint in the finish.
One year ago, when the pandemic became a reality, Carolyn Meyer’s focus changed in a very real way. While on a trip to New York City, Meyer caught COVID 19. A week after her return to Marin, she ended up in the hospital. Fortunately, she survived.
As part of her tenure as Department Director of Painting at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, she realized immediate change was required, and all classes were moved to online and virtual. She too had to learn the new formats and proceed into a new type of territory. Soon, her Sausalito studio was not just for her own painting practice but became a classroom with Zoom and online classes for the University.
The reality of having a private studio overlooking San Francisco Bay was a relief for the painter. She used it more than ever before, resulting in a marked change to her work. What came out of this past year was a focus on the inside, the interior, otherwise called still life painting.
The primary focus became bringing nature into the studio. She collected and set up glass bottles, vases, and glasses with flowers. She gathered fabrics and began to explore deeper the idea of studio painting. The resulting compositions, her connection to nature brought her many hours of painting, and the results premiere with “Outside In, Inside Out” at Desta Gallery in Mill Valley. This is the first time her work will be shown in Marin in two decades and is also the first exhibition that focuses on the still life genre.
Meyer’s work is a mixture of nature and emotion expressed through shape, form, color, and design. Her paintings draw the viewer into an engaging dialogue between realism and abstraction. Flowers and objects appear in unique compositions that push the representation back and forth between what is and isn’t real, like the movement of light and shadow and the effect on color. The abstraction aims to combine color and form while leaving traces of history behind. This is seen in the layers of paint that show a timeline of the process.
“The discoveries made during this time of COVID were deeply personal, and slowly, I learned to express myself painting flowers and telling my story. Buying armloads of flowers would begin my journey. Setting up loads of flowers is really quite beautiful, the fragrance – soothing. Overtime, the mass of flowers painted whittled down to painting just a few, single flowers at a time. I could see more about a flower when there was just one in front of me. I worked with scale as well as boldly colored fabrics. This was a type of reflection for working with volumes of students and talented professors – that changed overnight. Lockdown, isolation shocked us all. I am a lucky one. I survived the dreaded COVID, and now a sort of painters’ dream has come true. Working in my studio, alone, as a reflection of the individual and will to survive is a subject I know about. These paintings act as a memory of this time.” – Carolyn Meyer 2021