A Journey of Expressive Realism with Carolyn Pack

A Journey of Expressive Realism with Carolyn Pack

October 29, 2021

Carolyn Pack is a professional artist living in Toronto, Ontario. As the daughter of professional classical musicians Carolyn distinguished herself as a visual artist. She graduated from the Toronto School of Art in 1986 to continue painting full time.


She was prolific, applying painting principles to develop her style using direct, layering, glazing techniques to celebrate the beauty of nature, architecture and the faces of the human condition. As a developing figurative painter she used original collage and her photography as a process of work which evolved as a method of artistic growth.

Through a lifetime of studio paintings and exhibitions she developed as an accomplished painter. Her bodies of work include expressive compositions of faces within natural and architectural design, still life and landscape.

Today each painting is unique reflecting a personal journey of technical and creative ideas. The artist paints through a developing process influenced by masters and created by her own vision and love of painting.


Her oil paintings have been awarded Best of the Show and Honourable Mention in juried Arts Etobicoke exhibitions. In 2018 Carolyn was invited by international curator, Rosi Raneri to exhibit her paintings in the La Pigna Gallery, Rome and the Luigi Bellini Museum in Florence Italy.

What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

As a member of a family of professional musicians my visual acuity and need to paint was an accepted artform. It was prominent in my nature.

How would you describe your own personal style?

I call my figurative work expressive realism relating closely to a life or photographic image and as an expression of the individual in portraiture. In oils, I work through months of development close to my source image.


What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

In works as views from my photography or as plein air I paint creatively beyond the source image. I'm inspired creating the composition as transferred to the canvas. The effect of light on the subject describe the image. My palette is nature based but saturated accenting colour has intensified in current works, values more expressively dominant. My involvement in one work intensifies focused painting, alternating distance from the work driving the creative force.

Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?

I've been inspired by artist, teacher Gary Smith, by integral artists and by masters of painting and portraiture.

When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

I've painted using oils and acrylics over decades but as I used oil technique for both mediums I now work exclusively with oil on canvas. Oil technique facilitates the artistry of my work, wet on wet and glazing methods.


When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

I'm drawn to subject matter of natural beauty, interest of colour, spatial layering and  composition. Faces are a natural draw developing skills of anatomy and light effect.

Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

I choose my source photograph through a developed eye of light and unique visual interest. Camera dimensions are relative to the composition. On canvas I use a turpentine wash followed with a block in with a neutral colour. I measure the canvas into four equal parts as a guide for image transfer.

I loosely paint the background a soft colour relative to the works colour group and paint in the image defining from the block added colour from large areas to small and finally detail.


Working from complimentary colours tonally for skin colour as a palette. I find the structure and anatomy by sight. I do not use projections or other methods as I desire the work to be completely my own.

Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?

I work three to five hours with minimal break. I plan sessions preferring an open time period. Having photographed each session I share the process to friends, a part of the creative process. When complete I share on media and then focus on my next project.


Which of your artworks are you most proud?

I am most proud of my portraits of Harry Lumsden and Bob Dylan and my recent works based on nature and works by Toulouse Lautrec.

Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

I admire integral, gifted artists and the masters of painting.

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

Over time artist's have had to promote their work increasingly to the diminishment of studio time. Exposure of art has become more challenging, galleries close to inaccessible and with artists flooding the market values have lowered prices as has respect for the artist.


What are you working on at the moment?

I'm presently painting a self portrait. As a senior artist I was compelled to this work as a statement and legacy of a lifetime of creating art.

Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

Every artist decides their own path, some of my work focussed on environmental harm.

Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?

Yes. I've been a part of a group of gifted women artists sharing a warehouse studio. Though a valuable experience I left the group to work alone. My painting is solitary in my home to my music. I have taught painting over years but I now paint exclusively.


When is your next exhibition? Is it a solo or group exhibition? Could you tell us a little about the exhibition, when and where it is?

I plan a home exhibition and to again approach galleries as the pandemic ends. As we open our door my hope us that committed artists receive the value they deserve.

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