Honoring The Artist: Carol Saxe Talks With Dan’s Papers

This week’s cover by Carol Saxe, “Lobster Roll,” brings back fond memories for those of us who frequent this iconic restaurant. Yet Saxe has a penchant for not only depicting universal qualities but also specific details. In a word, she captures the structure or essence of an object, from New York neighborhoods to images through a window and dogs on a beach.

Q: How would you classify your subjects? In other words, what do they include?

A: First of all, architectural aspects of New York, Paris and out here. I also created a series featuring waves. I like painting dog art, dogs on the beach, too.

Q: I see a pattern here, your subjects are about the water. Why?

A: I grew up on boats. Water is fascinating to paint, but it’s difficult to capture. It’s not solid.

Q: The Lobster Roll cover is by the water, too.

A: I did that for a commission. I like commissions. I see them as a collaboration. Some of the clients have ideas that are good. In this case, the client suggested putting in a vintage car. I think it works well with the Lobster Roll. And the Lunch sign is similar to the Sag Harbor Theatre sign.

Q: Your New York scenes are not near the water, but what areas and buildings attract you there?

A: Fifth Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets, the Upper East Side. The townhouses there.

Q: Did you ever want to live in one of those neighborhoods? I certainly would.

A: We found a fabulous townhouse on the top floor with a fireplace and a glass skylight. But we didn’t buy it. I like this lifestyle that I have now. We live in Springs, and I have a lovely studio; I am very happy here.

Q: But if you weren’t living here, where would you like to live?

A: I’d go to an island in the Caribbean where there’s peace and tranquility.

Q: Where do you get that peace now?

A: I walk with my dogs to the beach or the woods. When we go to the beach, we see other dogs behaving like they were in a play group.  Dogs are similar to us in their emotional makeup.

Q: What about your art training? Were you encouraged to be an artist?

A: I wasn’t encouraged to go to art school but to get a liberal arts degree. I went to the University of Michigan and started in liberal arts, but I couldn’t take art courses unless I was in the School of Art, so I switched to art.

Q: Even though you were discouraged?

A: I was told artists don’t get raises or pensions and that it was a stupid career choice. On the other hand, artists don’t retire or don’t look forward to when they can’t paint.  I did contemplate being a marine biologist.

Q: There’s the water again. Did you have artists in the family? I have a feeling you did.

A: On my mother’s side, we had architects and designers. On my father’s side, they were all scientists.

Q: So, there’s both art and science playing a part in your genes.

A: I do believe in the relationship between art and science. The process is similar; there’s art in scientific research, being open to seeing patterns. Art is creative and so is scientific research.

Q: How has your own style changed over the years?

A: When life is chaotic, my art is controlled. When it’s less stressful, the work is more free.

Q: What advice would you give a young artist?

A: You have to paint full-time to be successful. I’ll never forget what someone once told me: “If you have something to fall back on, it will be a fallback.”  I take my art very seriously. If I do something, I’ll do it 100%.

Carol Saxe will be the featured artist at the auction and art show at the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church (2350 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton) on July 7 from 6-9 p.m. The auction is at 7:30 p.m. Call 631-537-0156.  Saxe’s work can also be seen at Southampton’s Chrysalis Gallery (2 S. Main Street). Call 631-287-1883.

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