New Mexico artist Carla Forrest provides an exciting vision of the Southwest through her spectral luminescent works, inspired by direct observation of nature and life. Forrest's pieces have the tiles of color and incised lines one might expect from a palette knife painting, but reveal an even more complex painting process. Forrest, who attributes her love of painting with a palette knife in part to her study of sculpture, is inspired by Emile Gruppe's color palette and the Pointillists' method of placing two colors side by side to let the eye blend them into another color. She's a first-generation Russian-American who favors Russian impressionism. Between the texture created with the palette knife and Forrest's saturated palette, the resulting look is distinctive. “It seems to hang together for me, the three-dimensionality and the color palette,” she says. “My palette comes from what I see in the Southwestern landscape. You see the full spectrum of colors here, not just greens and blues. I just love New Mexico; it is a painter's paradise. I don't have to travel very far to find different shapes and colors in the landscape.”

Honored as a Local Treasure by the Albuquerque Arts Business Association, Forrest’s personal artistic mission integrates awareness of environmental conservation, community connectivity, and creativity. As the first elected President of the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, Forrest expanded the fledging non-profit’s integrated mission into an artistic community dedicated to preserving and promoting painting en plein air – in the open air or outdoors – and an internationally recognized artistic organization that heartens public awareness about the natural, historic, cultural, educational, and recreational aspects of conservation and critical water issues in New Mexico. Forrest obtained her Bachelor in studio art with a concentration in three-dimensional design from State University of New York and Master of Science in Teaching Visual Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

EDUCATION
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, Doctor of Philosophy (2006)
Rochester Institute of Technology, Master of Science in Teaching Visual Arts (1974)
State University of New York, Oneonta, Bachelor of Arts (1974)

ASSOCIATIONS
New Mexico Art League
Outdoor Painters Society
Plein Air Artists of Colorado
Plein Air Painters of Arizona
Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, President (2009-2010)

Artist Statement

I approach art as an observer of the soul, enlightening the viewer about the presence, wonder, and dignity of nature and life. I want the viewer to value place and person in a space of spirit and heart and bring this illumination into their personal environments. While painting en plein air, I think about scale and how insignificant and unimportant we are in relation to the natural elements like mountains, rivers, foliage, and fauna. I think about light—warmth and cool—and the play of highlight and shadow, and how nurturing our sun is in bringing life and death to our world. This direct observation of nature and life inspires my spectral luminescent works. My impasto pieces are created through a complex alla prima painting process starting with brushes and then layering tiles of color and incising lines using pallet knives. It seems to hang together for me, the three-dimensionality and the color palette. My palette comes from what I see in the Southwestern landscape. You see the full spectrum of colors here, not just greens and blues. I just love New Mexico; it is a painter's paradise. I don't have to travel very far to find different shapes and colors in the landscape.