Carol Torian

Carol is a writer and self-taught artist who works mostly in acrylic medium. Her subjects range from abstract images to pencil drawings.

Meet the Artist

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists?

TORIAN: Augusta Savage, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ernie Barnes, Pablo Picasso, Romare Bearden, Claude Monet, Annie Lee, Barkley Hendricks, Sonia Delaunay, Auguste Rodin, and John Holyfield to name a few.

Q: What was your journey to becoming an artist?

TORIAN: My mom, Shelvy, is an artist. So, some of my earliest memories revolve around watching her sketch. And when I was a young girl, I used to draw all the time. I wanted to be an architect. I didn't know any architects. My family didn't know any architects. But I dreamed of designing single family homes. I had a 'portfolio' of sorts. It was an old, green photo album, and I would place my house plan drawings in that album, along with house plans that I ripped from magazines. Ultimately, though, I did not become an architect. I liked math, but I always felt out of place admitting that. Then in high school, I didn't see many girls (if any) signing up for drafting class. So, I reluctantly abandoned my dream of becoming an architect. I did end up in art class, however, and I made top marks. Over the years, I did some figure drawing--nothing that I ever wanted to share with anyone else, but I enjoyed it. I also did quilting, crochet, dressmaking, ceramics and screen printing. Along the way, I wrote some fiction and stage plays as well. I started to paint seriously at the age of 50, and I love it. I favor abstract expression for its risk, experimentation and freedom. For me, painting is like watching a story unfold.

Q: How would you describe your artistic process?

TORIAN: Sometimes, I begin with a sketch, but generally, I just start with an idea that has come to me. I then select my colors. If I am doing a piece with defined brush strokes, I set up my canvas on an easel or the floor of my studio. I then 'build' the painting layer by layer. If I am doing an acrylic pour painting, I mix the paint with some medium before I apply it to the canvas. Then, I layer on the paint and create a design through movement or by using a tool such as a spatula. I finish all of my work by adding marks or embellishments with paint or pens or graphite. I prefer to leave my artwork unvarnished. Creating a piece can take weeks, months, or a few days. I know that my artwork is complete when I can step back and perceive balance in the piece. 

Q: What inspires you to create?

TORIAN: Nature. Urban settings. Social justice issues. 

Q: What art trends are you currently following?

TORIAN: I am always interested in the ongoing conversation about graffiti. The message, the colors, the locations, the scale--none of these things are random. And whether one views graffiti as art or vandalism, it is an extraordinary social commentary.

In the midst of the opioid crisis, I am also following discussions about the application of virtually reality art in medicine to reduce reliance on pain medication. And my grandmother suffered from Alzheimer's disease, so I am very interested in how art activities can benefit dementia patients. 

Q: What is the most recent exhibition you have attended?

TORIAN: I visited the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University to see Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection. The exhibit showcased the work of postwar and contemporary African-American artists.