We had the good fortune of connecting with Carla Keaton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carla, how do you think about risk?
i am a firm believer that if you are an artist, risks are inevitable. It comes with the territory. I had a painting instructor say once that sacrifice is necessary if you want to be an artist and make a living from it. I totally agree with that. You have to decide if you’d rather have paint supplies vs internet. You have to be able to sacrifice some of the comforts in life and think outside of the box. I’ve taken more risks than I like to admit in my lifetime, to finally achieve a level of success with art that I am comfortable with. Am I rich? Hardly…. But I am content. Taking risks exposed what I am made of and what I can live without. It opened many doors for me where I didn’t think doors existed. I have taken what lots of people may have considered foolish risks, and looking back, I think to myself, boy that was really brave or either dumb of me. But ironically, they are the risks that set my career on a trajectory towards success. I am old enough and wise enough now to know that risks don’t always equal success. More often than not it doesn’t. Bu the biggest lesson learned from risks is that you can survive them and it gives you the courage to color outside of the lines, think outside the box, and conquer fears. Nothing is ever gained by playing it safe.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I believe what sets me apart from others is truly not being intimidated by risks. I have always been a risk taker and it has allowed me to experience and move forward with my art career. Had I chosen security and the comfortable life, I would not have had the success in art that I have today. It certainly wasn’t an easy path. But one of the ways I gained exposure was by networking and sacrifice. One of the biggest lessons I learned was not to loose myself and purpose along the way. Most artists depend on commission art work to help make ends meet and make money enjoying what the do. That can be a double edged sword. Somewhere along the way, I was so consumed with commissions, that I became burnt out and lost my love for the art. I recently made the decision to cease commissioned artwork requests in hopes of rekindling the love affair I once had for painting. So moving forward, I am committed to creating for self and hoping to communicate and share like experiences with my audience.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite spots in the city aren’t actually really in the city!! I love the outdoors and spend lots of time biking, running and hiking. So on a long weekend trip, I’d take my best friend to many of the different hiking spots such as Phoenix Mtn Range, Camelback Mtn, Superstition Mtns and the lakes in the area. Then we’d head out to Flagstaff, Payson and Sedona to take in some of the sights as well as a little hiking. Since hanging out eating at a restaurant, or bar, is out of the question for me, now given the current pandemic, we’d settle on delivery and enjoying a relaxing evening at home. Unfortunately, and with great sadness, the art and science museum visit would be currently postponed until further notice.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would say that a milestone in my career was when I received the Artist Research and Development grant from the Arizona Commission of the Arts, the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts in 2016. I proposed to do a project called The Sharecroppers and the Cotton Pickers of the Southwest and was awarded the grant. A little closer to home, I’d like to give a shout out to my mother who passed in 1987, shortly after my high school graduation. My mother was also an artist and started painting later on in life. , she was my biggest fan. Always bragging about my talent, encouraging me. She was very supportive of me wanting to be an artist. Never once did she tell me it wasn’t practical or a pipe dream. I think she believed it was my destiny.
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