Carla Grace is an artist who will absolutely take your breath away with vivid portrayals of wildlife.
I saw her work several months ago and was blown away by both her talent and her willingness to share with others.
Her combination of realism and surrealism combined with an incredible use of light and shadow pulls the viewer in, transporting them to another time and place.
Carla’s willingness to share tips, techniques and tutorials allows others to learn from her exceptional talent and her social media is alive with warmth, life and an exuberance for living creatively that is infectious.
I was born in South Africa, in 191, and moved to Zimbabwe where I experienced wildlife as a child in a way I believe a very small portion of the world is privileged to. This closeness to nature at such a young age laid a solid foundation in my creative soul that stuck with me despite having to move suddenly at age 9. We moved to New Zealand for a few years, which is where I entered a school art competition at age 13, winning the overall prize for the top artist in the school. It became clear that art wasn’t just something I was good at, but something that I was uniquely gifted in.
I was 14 when my family and I moved again to Zambia. Here, we lived on a farm with no electricity and had a very limited social life. With nothing other than a pencil and some old notebooks, I began to draw the birds that surrounded us. Each drawing getting more and more detailed. Although very isolated, living in Zambia allowed me to focus on the discipline needed to achieve the highest possible outcome with my work. I started doing paid commissions at age 16 and was quickly running out of spare time after school to keep up with the demand.
I completed a diploma in Fine art in New Zealand, however, I didn’t fit in with the academic art that the university seemed to model, and so I dropped out and moved to Australia which is where I established my business at age 23. It was also here that I met my now-husband, and it seems that my love story became entwined with my professional story. We became focused on creating artwork that was both stunning to look at, and of incredible quality. I found that I not only loved the continual challenges involved in finding the best possible ways to create incredible paintings and packaging, but that the business aspect of making it a full-time career was exciting.
I remember the impact of my first major sale of an original painting in 2016. I had quit full-time work as a receptionist to dive into being an artist, and after three months of no sales, I had $0.86 to my name. I had put everything I had into setting it up, and I was at a point where I couldn’t afford to go on. It was 10 pm on a weekday, and I finally received an email saying that my life-size grizzly bear had been sold for $3,000.
The most fulfilling aspect of what I do now is working with other artists and coaching them through tutorials to push their technical skills to where they want them to be. I have never had a truly traditional exhibition as my work has been sold directly to private collectors through my social media platforms. In 2017, a drawing I had done of an elderly chimpanzee was selected as a finalist in the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Award.
Today, I have two young children and live in South Australia with my husband. I work out of my home studio and am creating realistic wildlife paintings that cannot be found in a photo. I am driving my work to be more than photorealistic and pushing the boundaries of realistic wildlife into a world of surrealism in a subtle and stunning way. The original paintings I create this year will be innovative and exciting. I look forward to seeing the direction my work takes as it continues to grow.