Just as one can point to the many events in their life that change their destiny, be it marriage, a child being born or the death of a loved one, Carolyn remembers the particular event which changed hers. At the age of 27 and living in Houma, Louisiana, she had earned a degree in medical technology and was working as a lab technician at a local hospital. She had heard through a friend of hers, of an art studio nearby in the town of Gray. She treated herself to a birthday gift and signed up for eight lessons. Carolyn states that, "she always wanted to learn about painting but just never had the time."
Dotty Billiu was the owner/instructor there and taught her the basics of color, color mixing, painting and so much more. One of the most important things she did was to introduce Carolyn to the master. Master painter, Henry Hensche, a man with 73 years of painting experience and the legacy of three generations of color teaching that reach as far back as William Merritt Chase. Carolyn remembers, " Hensche was there at the studio shortly after I began to study. His works took me by surprise- I'd never imagined the colors he used and the beauty of his paintings were a revelation to me. I had to learn more and was so lucky to be able to spend individual time studying with him. I would go to the studio after work , in the early afternoon and work on a set up outside and then move it inside and work on a new piece. He would critique me and help me to see that learning to see color was the most important part of the lesson. I approached every painting as a learning tool towards a better understanding."
Again unforeseeable events took place and Carolyn had moved to a new home and was no longer able to study with Mr. Hensche. Being a pioneer and having taught for sixty-five years, Mr. Hensche taught many a painter. She then began taking workshops with other established painters who followed Mr. Hensche's color and painting ideas. All have their different levels of seeing in their visual growth as Hensche taught. Ms. Biggio makes her point in saying that, "I think some would argue that I don't paint as Hensche taught, but I feel like my pieces are my own and they should be. I have my own spirit. My paintings are unique to me and true to me and that is how it should be. If we painters were all imitators, how boring life would be! My own personality is to be upbeat and positive and I love beautiful things. I think all of this shows in my work."
As Carolyn paints the light falling on the objects of a morning still life, she continues, " I took what I learned and paint from my heart. The colors are what I see and how I interpret the conditions of the objects in the light present. I don't know how to explain the joy of bringing together all the shadow masses and light masses and creating on canvas the volume and color of the scene before me. Every painting is a learning adventure and a puzzle to figure out. I use a painting knife for my paintings because I was taught that way by Mr. Hensche and I grew to love the texture and the freshness of the oil colors when the knife is used. Occasionally I begin with a brush and then work with the knife. It is a spontaneous painting effort and I usually paint wet in wet. I paint outdoors mainly. I love the pure sunlight. Sometimes I paint by the natural light coming through a window."I paint what is interesting to me. I daydream about color combinations and then find things that I can use to form the composition. Other times I just catch an idea from how something very ordinary is setting next to another object and paint that. If I get stuck for ideas, I take maybe three objects and see how many interesting small paintings I can make by moving the objects around. I paint quickly, sometimes 4 small (8x10) paintings in the morning. I always paint with natural light. Sometimes inside by a window but usually outside in my yard. I have occasionally done small light filled-portraits of my son, friends, etc. I don't consider myself a portrait painter but I do enjoy painting the human figure in the sun and I am usually satisfied with the results. I don't do landscapes except on occasion. I painted landscapes on painting retreats to New Mexico, for example, but not on any regular basis. I would consider myself primarily a still life painter who enjoys painting other forms occasionally. Happy to concentrate on color differences and painting beauty as I see and feel it.
Carolyn Biggio, Covington, LA
Carolyn Biggio is represented on a national and international level through a major art representative. She has won awards from national art shows and appeared in the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 New York Art Expos. Her work has been published by and is available in prints from Grand Image, Seattle, WA