Portrait of the Artist

Sarah G. Carter

Patterned Fields

By Noelani Kirschner | August 26, 2019
Hot Pink Cold Heart, oil on hardboard panel, 24 x 36 inches.
Hot Pink Cold Heart, oil on hardboard panel, 24 x 36 inches.

When her career designing custom rugs began to unravel, Sarah G. Carter turned to painting landscapes. The move wasn’t as much of a leap as you might imagine. “I think the best painters are designers,” she says. “And the best designers are painters. The lines are pretty blurry.”

Carter lives in Lexington, Virginia, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Driving around town, she often jumps out of the car to take photographs when the light hits the mountains just right or when a sunset casts golden rays over a field. “These old mountains are just these rolling layers,” she says. “And the farmland looks like textured geometry to me.” Carter then goes back to her studio and paints from the photographs, capturing not so much the exact likeness of the landscape as the essence of it.

  • Over and Out, oil on linen, 18 x 18 inches.

Each of Carter’s landscapes are recognizable as such, but the colors are heightened—often more luminous, but never neon—and the patterned textures recall her beginnings in the design world. She uses a burnt orange to coat the background before applying different colors on top. When she first began playing with this technique, she noticed that the orange would come through in patches. Instead of reworking her process, she lets these pieces remain in the painting, almost like a patchwork quilt. “I admit to pushing the color, to make a point,” Carter says. “My designer brain is instinctively playing with how things layout.”

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