We had the good fortune of connecting with Carlotta Baird and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carlotta, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Balance is a tricky one. I used to think that I had achieved balance when my life looked similar to someone that I admired in the same season of life. My life never quite measured up to that standard so holding on to that belief did not work out so well for me. Thankfully I’ve learned that while comparison is the thief of joy, it’s also an unreliable guide and a cruel critic. A few years ago I heard Rich Roll, ultra athlete and author, speak about balance in his life. As an ultra athlete, he can put in an insane amount of hours training for an event. And that is okay with him, as long as at some point the pendulum swings back to the other parts of his life that are also important and necessary. If you’re judging by the hour, his life does not look balanced at all. But if you zoom back and view it over a larger span of time, years even, it makes more sense. My painting practice absolutely requires a lot of time alone in my studio and in my head. I need to have time to work, to learn and to be restored. My introverted tendencies function really well there. But, I’m also a mom and wife. Being an artist is part of who I am, so how do I balance life? As a recovering perfectionist, I’m becoming kinder to myself for one thing. I’m trying to reference that larger, more zoomed out view when I think of how I’m doing. It takes away the sting of guilt I sometimes feel when I have a day where my attention has been divided or even absent from my family. I’m also trying to find ways of living that are not tied to the way everyone else seems to be doing it. I’m on the hunt to find ways that will help me find the ‘easy button’ when it’s available. One of the hashtags that I’m currently fond of is #findingthewaysthatwork. Lastly, I need to consider if achieving balance is due the priority that I’m giving it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I create abstract images inspired by visual references from photos or memories, using acrylic paint, spray paint, oil paint sticks and recently collage. I begin with an idea for a composition, and, as I paint, depart from the original reference. I feel the departure from the original idea as an internal struggle to see if it will unfold as planned or if it becomes a new thing. My best work comes from being able to release my initial intention, begin again, and allow something new to be born. I use intuitive mark-making, stencils, organic shapes, and color to direct my paintings, balanced with old-school rules of design and composition. Recently, I have become very interested in textures and how I can divide up the space of the surface to draw in the viewer. Painting seems to be a place where I can give a form and sometimes resolution to the long conversations within myself. At the core, these are the conversations that shatter the certainty of my personal belief systems and force me to explore new ideas. Born from my ideas embedded into the work, I hope to hold space for the narrative of the observer to complete the collaborate process of creating art.
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.
With all the COVID precautions in place, I would order to-go at all the small, local businesses I could and relax at home with great food and Netflix! To Eat and Drink: Texas Biergarten in Missouri City Vietwich in Stafford Aki Steak and Sushi in Sugar Land Decadent Coffee and Dessert Bar in Sugar Land Fuzzy’s Pizza in Houston When it is appropriate to mask up and go explore: Museum of Fine Arts Houston The Menil Collection Houston Rothko Chapel The Houston Zoo Houston Museum of Natural Science Take a walk at Memorial Park in Houston Surfside Beach in Galveston with a stop at Buccees To Cheer for the Home Team (post pandemic): Houston Texans Game Rockets Game Astros Game Sugar Land Skeeters
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I definitely have to give a shoutout to artist Nicholas Wilton and staff of the Creative Visionary Program (CVP). I decided to take the intensive 12 week course in February 2020, before the Covid Pandemic was fully realized. Had I known what was coming, I probably would not have enrolled. But, it became a sanity saver for me; it demanded that I peel my eyes away from the news and use my mind for creativity and community instead of worried obsession. When I started the course, I realized that I had been stuck in the same, familiar, safe place with my art. I needed to risk whatever it took during this time to go further. “Begin again” was a phrase introduced to me by author, Leeana Tankersley, a few months before the course began. Beginning again in some ways implies becoming a student again, shaking off ways that I’ve done things before and ways of thinking that left me stuck. I’ve been including this in my art practice and am quite excited by the freedom it brings. The combination of these two influences has been such an inspiration for me to take major steps forward in my art practice, even as the pandemic has changed all of our lives so drastically.
All of the photos are my own personal photos.