Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

Land, Water and Sky: Lindey Carter’s Art Cycle

Landscape painting by L. Carter depicting a moody sky with dark clouds and a hint of rainfall. The foreground consists of muted green and brown fields, with the dramatic sky dominating the composition.

Lindey Carter, “A Quick Shower,” watercolor, 10 x 10 in.

The water cycle—traditionally how seawater loses its salt as it evaporates from the ocean, falls as rain on the land, and returns to the sea in rivers—is getting a new level of attention under the pressure of climate change. Hydrologists, the experts on this process, are taking the opportunity to bring earlier models up to date. What, they ask, about the portion, a majority here in the West, consumed by agriculture? Such new concepts and questions abound. What about fog runoff? Freshwater lakes? Residential and industrial use? And something called “streamflow to closed basins?” Hello, Great Salt Lake.

One person who closely observes the interaction of land and water is the painter Lindey Carter, presently showing 18 emotionally resonant landscapes at Phillips Gallery. Her vast cloudscapes fill the space over relatively slender perspectives on wetlands, marshes and evidence of human activity. According to her statement, the immediate inspiration is a renewed awareness of what shade contributes to the colors and luminosity of light, and to its often melancholy resonance. Add to that a scientist’s observations on the variety of cloud forms and their relation to the lands they pass over, and the result compiles a view of the sky arguably unseen until now.

Landscape painting by L. Carter showing a broad expanse of land with a light blue sky and dark clouds. The foreground features a mix of brown and white fields, suggesting snow patches, with a vast, cloudy sky above.

Lindey Carter, “Sifting,” watercolor, 40 x 30 in.

There are, in effect, two bodies of work here. Due to the scale on the smaller ones, like “A Quick Shower,” paint handling and the presence of the artist’s hand largely take over the role of subject. “A Quick Shower” could be a sketch for “Sifting,” in which, as in many of the larger works, done on canvas, the optical and emotional impact of the landscape competes with its hydrological details for prominence. In both, foliage in the water creates shallow ponds in the foreground, but further out in “Sifting,” falling rain suggests something like flour being dusted, and, because the cloud’s shadow conceals its fate, it’s not possible to tell if the rain is evaporating before it can replenish the earth, as so often is the case in desert lands.

The colors are always saturated, but blue is more striking than gray. In both, she’s done something unusual, which is to handle her watercolors so they have the solid presence of oils, yet the luminosity of watercolors. Fortunately, Phillips’ staff includes Hadley Rampton, one of Utah’s more skillful watercolor landscape painters, who explains that Carter achieves this largely by minimally diluting her watercolors, applying them, then subtracting color, rather than adding it, using cotton swabs and similar tools to as much as carve out the image.

It’s ironic, in a way, that just as hydrologists are elaborating their views of water in relation to land, Carter admits to simplifying hers. By focusing on one bird, cloud, or portion of the sky, she creates a microcosm in a small space, or a powerful sense of nature’s impact in a window-like canvas. As she concludes her statement, “By studying the details of just one aspect of life, I am able to make sense of the chaos that is found in life as a whole.”

Landscape painting by L. Carter featuring green agricultural fields under a cloudy sky. The image shows varying shades of green fields, with a hint of brown, under a predominantly cloudy sky with subtle hints of purple.

Lindey Carter, “Cultivated,” watercolor, 10 x 10 in.

Lindey Carter, Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City, through July 13

1 reply »

  1. Cal and I enjoyed Lindsey exhibition, loved she is using water color on canvas. I enjoyed meeting Lindsey talking art, learning her process, and have nothings but good things to say about this amazing women artists.

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