It can be hard to find a reliable source for original artwork, which is why so many homeowners and designers alike, have found themselves turning to Liza Pruitt time and again. It was also Liza who introduced us to Virginia based artist, Carson Overstreet. Overstreet’s paintings are captivating, portraying picturesque landscapes with a palpable beauty. Her latest collection, Marshes and Mountains, featured on Liza Pruitt, was inspired by her love of southern marshes and mountains. The scenes she depicts have a serene yet vivid quality that makes them immersive. You can practically feel the breeze rolling off the tidal shorelines and feel the sunlight dappling your skin as it washes over the verdant mountainside.
To celebrate her latest release, Carson is sitting down with us and sharing more about her background, inspiration and a love for art that has been passed down in her family for generations.
Q: Could you tell us a bit more about your background and how you started your career as an artist?
A: Like so many people, the path to my career as an artist was a winding one which entailed a graduate degree in history, years in the non-profit sector, owning a catering company and becoming a mother all before I became an artist. As a child being good at art was part of my identity. My grandfather was a professional artist and my mother, my first cousin and other family members were highly artistic so there existed an environment that encouraged and supported my artistic abilities. Most of my adult life was filled with creative endeavors like DIY projects and gardening but not art per se. About 8 years ago, I began to experiment with painting and essentially taught myself to paint. Painting, for me, is an on-going process; every studio session teaches me something new. Fortunately, the fundamentals that I had learned as a child such as drawing skills provided me with a solid foundation.
Q: Now that we are transitioning into Fall, where do you find your inspiration in the colder months?
A: Your question got me thinking, and I believe the seasons influence my work more than I had realized. In the spring I generally release a new body of floral paintings. In this summer’s work, there was a strong influence from a Caribbean trip and time spent in the South Carolina lowcountry. The arrival of fall will likely reflect a more subdued and natural palette.
Q: Your landscapes are so beautiful! Part of the reason they’re so captivating is that they have a highly personal quality that in turn make them immersive. How do you keep finding unique and newfound inspiration for each collection? What inspired your latest collection?
A: Thank you! The South is a beautiful place, so finding inspiration is not difficult, at least in my eyes. My latest body of work is a direct result of visiting my two great Southern loves: the marshes and the mountains. When I see beautiful scenery, I try to take a photo if at all possible. The next step is translating a photograph into a painting. One painting in this collection was based on a photo I took of a field at the base of the Peaks of Otter in Bedford, Virginia where I grew-up; others pieces are inspired by our annual family vacation to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
Q: Would you mind giving us an inside glimpse and sharing what your artistic process looks like?
A: The first–and often most difficult step–is getting out of the house and into the studio! Once settled into my studio, I select a photograph to paint, then do a rough sketch of the composition and pinpoint my darkest and lightest areas including a focal point. Selecting the palette usually comes just before I start painting though I may have a general idea of whether the mood will be bright and cheerful or more subdued and natural. This summer I begin painting en plein air with pastels and hope to use these studies to guide larger pieces later in the year.
Q: Do you have an all-time favorite commission?
A: One of the unexpected joys that I have found as a professional artist is getting to know designers and homeowners through the commission process. Painting in my studio is a solitary existence, and I have found great pleasure in connecting with clients and learning about their lives, homes and what is meaningful to them. I truly enjoy the connection with the client because painting the views from someone’s childhood home or attempting to translate memory and love through a landscape into art is, well, a highly personal thing. Whether a great emotional connection is tied to the commissioned piece or the commission’s sole purpose is to add beauty to the client’s home, being asked to create something unique and beautiful is always an honor.
One of my favorite commissions which I recently completed was for a dear friend. Newly retired, she left her long-time home and moved into a newly built home in another area of town. She wanted a fresh start–meaning new furniture, decor, art, etc–to mark this new phase of life. The flowers at her longtime home held a special place in her heart, though, and she wanted that memory captured and brought into her new home. She showed me a very close-up photo of her favorite yellow flowers and asked if I could do a large palette knife piece. I said “yes, of course!” though, secretly, I had a bit of trepidation as to how I would go about translating the photo into a large palette knife painting. It ended up being one of my favorite pieces to date, and we were tickled–as we say in the South–and honored that stylist Richard Stone borrowed the painting for a Scalamandre photo shoot.
Q: What do you like the most about working with Liza Pruitt?
A: This time it is an easy question! I hold Liza Pruitt in such high regard both professionally and personally. Liza is my kind of girl: she is one of the hardest working people I know and is always questioning and looking to see if something can be done or made better. She strives for perfection yet maintains a relaxed attitude. Her strong work ethic and integrity coupled with her appreciation of art are beneficial to anyone who works with her because she can and will help clients and designers find the perfect piece. All that aside, she and I have an easy-going relationship and work incredibly well together so it is truly a pleasure and joy to be in partnership with Liza.
Q: The designers in our Directory love finding the perfect pieces for their clients. How do you connect with interior designers and create commissions for their clients?
A: The Directory is such a great resource for designers! Liza and I now partner on commissions; Liza takes care of logistics and details, and I focus on the creative aspects which has been a wonderful gift to me, that is, being given the opportunity to focus on the painting process itself. I think communication is key with commissions. There is at least one phone call with the designer though usually two: an initial conversation and one just before the start date which is often a few months later. I’m fairly flexible with the approach which is often designer driven especially if the designer or homeowner has a particular vision in mind. I try to be honest about whether the request is something I think is doable and decline if not a good fit. Photos of the home and product samples such as paint swatches or fabric swatches are always welcome. I will never forget the charming inspiration board that I received in the mail from designer Edith-Anne Duncan; it was like Christmas morning!
It was truly an honor sitting down with you Carson and we are in love with your collection!
To see the full collection, Marshes & Mountains, by Carson Overstreet, you can explore it HERE.