Friday, February 22, 2013

Artist - SUNNY CARVALHO This Girl has found her WINGS!!

                                Soaring to Success

                        Interviews of Artists, Writers and Photographers
                     Their work, creative spaces and techniques

                                    Soaring to Success Interview with Artist:  
                                   SUNNY CARVALHO 

         I am delighted for you to meet this artist!  Her humor and  whimsical personality comes alive in her mixed media paintings, sketches and drawings, hand-sculpted dolls and pendants! Her work is such an inspiration, full of creativity ...and so unique!
Sunny also teaches workshops!!  She taught at Artfest - and in just weeks she will be teaching her workshops: Crazy Girl Painting and  The Little Girls of Dollandia at the "Art is...You Nashville" April 4 -7th 2013. 
This girl has found her wings -- and she's already Soaring to Success!!!            

 Thrilled to introduce this week's artist:   

I am Sunny Carvalho, a mixed media artist living near Birmingham, AL.  Primarily, I do hand sculpted, ceramic dolls and pendants and mixed media paintings.  My passion is painting…no, wait….sculpting….no……firing stuff!, give me a sec….it’s definitely…..wait, what was the question?

2. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

 I was born and then I picked up a crayon!  I have considered myself an artist my whole life.  Because I was also fascinated with horses and rodeos, I spent most of my teen years on a horse.  But I would come in exhausted after 10 hours of riding, flop on the floor and draw.  My first subjects were the Peanuts.  I adored Snoopy, Charlie Brown and all the gang and spent hours drawing them.  Later it was recreations of Molly Hatchet album covers on poster board that earned my spending money.

3. What are your fears?  How have you faced them?  Or your plans of how you plan to tackle your fears. 

Although I’m sure I do have fears, my drive conquers them.  I make art because I HAVE to.  I spend my whole life either making something…or dreaming of what I will make next.  I see no purpose in letting any fears slow me down.  I find that if I make art to please myself first, then it will relate to someone else out there! My only real fears involve my family’s safety.

Mixed Media piece

4. What makes you different…unique from others? 
I think I’ve found something that most everyone relates to:  humor!  I love painting unusual girls with ugly dogs or interesting situations.  I started out in realism, which made me miserable.  I found that, because art is so subjective, I would deliver a painting of someone’s child, knowing that I had put in 20 hours of work and the response was: “the lips are too red”!  My internal response was, “if you want a perfect representation, take a picture!!” but I never said that.  I just knew within myself that if I continued on this path that I would give up art for good.  

And then I saw an advertisement for Artfest, Teesha and Tracy Moore’s retreat in Port Townsend, WA.  I told my husband that I wanted to go, even though I didn’t know anyone there and I would be traveling all the way across the country alone.  I did go and when I came home, I was so bursting with inspiration that I knew I had to find a new path.  I walked through my garage, literally the day I got home, and saw a piece of plywood and I immediately knew “this will be my new substrate and I WILL find a new path”!  That was in April of that year and by June, I applied to teach at Artfest.  I was accepted with my new style (what I called “pretty girls”) and flew out to teach.  I was SO nervous!!!  I had panic attacks for months before!  But it went amazingly well and I was so grateful to be accepted back to teach for the following 5 years.  I was very happy with my “style” of pretty girls until one day when I drew a funny, but sad looking,  little animal/girl and wanted to add some words to the painting.  I opened an antique book I had bought at the thrift store and began leafing through it.  Suddenly I found the words “Kiki was going to camp.  Kiki had a hard time getting ready” and I laughed!  At that exact moment, my style changed again. 

I realized that what appealed to me was humor.  I couldn’t very well put the humor onto “pretty girl” paintings so I started drawing “fast and loose”!  Those little drawings became the art that I do today, crazy little people and ugly animals.  I am SO happy now when I create a painting.  I don’t feel the need to be perfect.  In fact, I really feel the need to NOT be perfect!  But the BEST part of every painting is finding those words that make me laugh.  That’s just the best feeling.
Creative Pendant Dolls

5. Any secrets to reveal about the tools you use or your techniques?  Tips or tricks?   What makes your art special? Are your supplies unusual? 

I use anything and everything.  I primarily paint on wood, typically plywood (the 3/8” one-side sanded kind I get at Lowe’s) that I cut myself to the size I want to use.  My favorite paints are Golden Fluid Acrylics and Liquitex Inks.  I also use antique text, paper napkins, digital art (vintage book covers, etc.), vintage maps.  I have even used old bottle caps I have found in a parking lot!  I used to use Genesis Heat-set Oils (which I still love) but have drifted more to the fluid acrylics lately.


6. What are your goals and inspirations?  Where will you hope to be in 2 years? 

I have no idea where I will be next month, much less in years to come!  I hope to still be making a living and pleasing the people who like what I do.  I do have goals but I just trust God to lead me on a path to whatever is the next step. 

7. Where is your creative space or studio?    
I worked for many years (porcelain dolls…another life altogether that I haven’t mentioned!) on the kitchen table.  When we moved to this house, I finally had a studio!  I adore having a space where I can just close the door and walk away (which I do often!) but I find that it doesn’t matter so much where I work but that I do work.  Sometimes it’s in my driveway on a beautiful spring day, sometimes it’s in my bedroom.  I just have to get busy!
Sunny's Art Studio
Another view of the studio

8.How much time do you devote to your work?  (Is it at same time everyday? Are you disciplined to go into your studio at 9:00am every morning?  Or do you wait until you are in a creative mood?)

I find that my most creative time every day is from 3pm to about 7pm.  I try to get some morning time, too but I usually find myself doing shipping or book work in the mornings.  My family also owns an industrial supply company and I work for them, as well so mornings also include that type of work, too.

Where Sunny creates!!!

9. What are your “whispers” or callings begging you to do?  (Paint, write a book, sell your items on-line)   What do you want to achieve?

I would like to write and illustrate a children’s book for adults!  I’m not really a writer so I haven’t tried to tackle this yet but I recently released a book of my 2012 art that I called “Seven Second Stories” because each image tells its own story.  I would also like to do a technique-type book at some point.

10. Do you keep a daily journal or sketchbook, or write in a diary?  These are usually very interesting  and very charming to share- like a peek into the life of an artist.
Pages from Sunny's "Idea Journal"

I tried so hard to get into the Art Journaling craze.  What I found, for me, is that I am not made for that type of journaling!  Instead, I keep an “Idea Journal”.  Literally anything and everything that pops into my head goes into my journal.  There are hundreds of tiny drawings and ideas in there and all I have to do is open that journal and I am ready to get busy!  My drawings are done super-fast, maybe 30 seconds or less but they are some of the most valuable things I own.  Many, many times I will draw one idea that leads to another and another and the next day I don’t remember what I drew until I look back.  That tells me that had I not drawn it at that moment, the idea would have been gone forever!

11. How do you market yourself? How do you plan to get “the word” out there??  (web-site, blog, etsy, galleries, boutiques, on-line selling, do you advertise?)  Is it working?   Are you selling?

I AM selling!  I have found that for me, a network of FaceBook friends who are interested in my art is the best tool for selling in my arsenal.  I often add things to my Etsy shop or on Ebay and then add a link on FB so that everyone knows that there are things available.  I do not advertise at this time.  I am only one person and can only create a certain amount of items in a day.  At some time, I would like to hire a full time assistant to do the things that “finalize” (like painting the backs of paintings, or making chain).  Currently I have a part time assistant who does my shipping at times and helps with small tasks but I find myself “helping” her rather than doing what I should be doing so until I get a new studio built, that will have to wait!

12. What type of music (if any) do you listen to when you create?

Oh, music!!!  I have an ongoing love affair with a band called Blue October.  I love their weirdness and their honesty.  I like to listen to them VERY loudly, particularly on Friday nights (the only night I stay late in the studio).  I also totally adore Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeren and The Fray.  I have a playlist that also includes a lot of Ting Tings, Eminem, Linkin Park and Telepopmusik.  I like odd, catchy music that makes me dance (or rap!  Hahaa!)  while I paint!

13. Who is your favorite artist, photographer, author? …  In other words, who do you admire, and look up to?

My longtime favorite artist is Mark Ryden.  The girls that he paints are the primary reason I started painting Pretty Girls.  I love that he puts these gorgeous girls in such odd situations.  I also love Eurpoean children’s book illustrators Elisabetta Decontardi and Natalie Pudalov.  But above all is the fabulous Tim Burton!!


14. Are you encouraged to follow your creative path by your family or friends?
Hand-sculpted clay taken from Sunny's own drawings!
My husband has been an amazing support over the years, allowing me to follow my path, travel and teach with very little complaint.  My mother has come around to enjoy my style of art although it took her a while!  I remember when I showed her some of my first paintings (with tiny skulls and Pretty Girls) and she said, “Why can’t you just paint a landscape?”!!!!  I explained to her that I can go outside and SEE a landscape but I doubt that I will go out and see the crazy characters that I paint!
Sunny's Dolls
15. How do come up with titles for your work?

My titles typically come from antique children’s books.  After I reach a certain point in a painting, I pull out the old books and start looking for words to complete the painting.  I know I have found the perfect words when I start laughing!  For instance, in my “Clara” painting, I was looking through a biography of Clara Barton and the words “Then Clara’s family sent her away to school, hoping to have her overcome her painful shyness” caught my eye.  The painting is a big-headed girl skipping along with her skull purse….I cracked up and I KNEW I had found the theme of the painting!
16. Do you work on one project at a time ..or have several going on at a time?

I usually have about 30 things (literally) going at any given time but only one will capture my attention and I will work solely on it until it is finished.  I used to worry that I had too many uncompleted projects going but then I realized that each one calls to me when it is time and I will finish it at that time.
Brand new....Floss Bobbins

Cuffs - in progress!

Thank you so much, Joan for asking me to do this interview and thank you so much to all who are reading it!!  I hope you laugh today!

Xoxo,            Sunny

Web:  (currently under construction)

Sunny you are a delightful person who has inspired me with your humor and personality – and it shows up again in your whimsical paintings, drawings, ceramics and dolls!!!  You struck gold when you did what you love!!!  You found your inner humor and put into your art.  Hopefully, other artists have been inspired and can reach down deep into their own personalities and find their own unique style, too!!!

 I am thrilled you agreed to an interview and shared your tips, supplies, ideas and artwork with us.  I LOVE your work! As you know,  I am a proud owner of your colorful new book Seven Second Stories  featuring your artwork of paintings and ceramics!

Thanks again, Sunny for allowing me to feature you on my  “Soaring to Success” Series.    It’s obvious you found your wings ….  May you “SOAR” like the wind!!!    : )    Joan

***If you are an artist, writer, photographer or all around artsy person and would like to be featured on my Blog Series “Soaring to Success” please contact me for consideration!

I owned an art school in Charlotte, NC for 16 years before moving to Jacksonville, FL., so it  thrills me when a classroom full of students, given one assignment, produces such a variety of ideas. …We are all unique, we are all special.  We all have a different path, a different way of approaching our art. That is exactly why I want to do these interviews, to celebrate what makes us, US!      Thank you for participating : )               


                                                     Joan Carver       (e)       904-230-6155


Alisa Steady said...

Wonderful interview! I have been a fan of yours Sunny, and it was a real pleasure getting to know you as an artist in this interview. I love your philosophy on fear - real words of encouragement. Thank you so much!

Sunny Carvalho said...

Thank you so much, Alisa, for the kind words and the support! I so appreciate that!! Xoxo

MyPinkTurtle said...

TOTALLY enjoyed this interview with Sunny ! I already knew her and enjoyed her ART but her words here made me giggle ! Love your blog too !

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I have considered myself an artist my whole life. Because I was also fascinated with horses and rodeos, Autoblogs

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