After receiving a BFA in painting from the University of Minnesota in 2007, Carolyn Misterek abandoned fine art, choosing instead to focus her energy on becoming a graphic designer. She worked in the field for 12 years, but on New Year’s Day 2020, she decided to quit her job and return to painting full-time. “I had these moments of like, ‘I don’t want to be picking a color palette; I just wanted to paint with these colors,’” she says. “Ultimately, I couldn’t ignore that voice for that long.” Even as she quarantined with her family during the pandemic, she felt connected to potential buyers of her work thanks to the prominence of social media in the art world. “All I had was Instagram to reach people,” she says, “but I was already shipping art to Australia and the U.K.”
Several colors—among them forest green, blush pink, and dusty blue—feature prominently in Misterek’s work, and she believes that her background in digital graphic design allows her to map out her compositions as she paints, without any prior planning. “It’s magical alchemy,” she says. “I have no conscious thought about how I’m going to lay stuff out.” Inspired by the Impressionists, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Misterek (who also has a master’s degree in art history) chooses scenes from her daily life: still lifes, quiet interior scenes, or portraits of her two children. “I think of my work as visual poetry,” she says. “Where you just have an emotional response and you don’t always have to know why or analyze it. It’s all coming from an emotional place for me, and so my goal is the emotional response from the viewer.”
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