Carol Torian

Meet the Artist

Carol Torian is a writer, gallerist, and contemporary artist, known for her abstract paintings and drawings. She is a self-taught artist whose work is inspired by nature, urban settings, women's issues, and social justice issues. Carol is a graduate of Meredith College, and the founder and owner of Drinking Gourd Gallery. 

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, and I continue to write. 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: As an artistic and a writer, I am continually evolving. When it comes to painting, sometimes, I begin with a sketch, but generally, I just start with an idea that has come to me. I then select my colors. I like color blending and experimenting with different color palettes. 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 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. Human rights issues. Women's issues. I also love to spend time at museums. Whenever I travel, I always try to include a visit to an art museum on my itinerary. 

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.

The ongoing opioid crisis makes me interested in discussions about the application of virtual 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. 

I find 3D printing fascinating, too. It is an art creation method that is technologically and financially within reach for many people. The idea of being able to take a sketch or a photograph and make a sculpture right from the computer is significant. 

Also, everything that is going on politically here and abroad has the potential to  influence artwork creation, and ushers in the opportunity for artists to make important statements about the socio-political climate of our time. 

Q: What advice would you give to other artists--established or emerging? 

TORIAN: Trust your worth. Trust your talent. Keeping moving forward. And don't give up.