Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique  discovering  thesis and processes behind the work.








Conversation between Cara Tomlinson and Olivia Ramos.


Cara Tomlinson

Propspose, 2015

Oil on Canvas

20 x 24 in.

TOMLINSON:  ‪Hi Olivia


RAMOS:  ‪Hi Cara


thank you for joining me


 I am happy to do this! ‬‬


‪I was just looking at your website - you new work‬‬




‪there are two pieces which i seem to identify with right away‬‬


maybe we can start there




the first one is "Propspose"‬‬


‪Yes. You are looking at the painting‬‬


‪it's so emotional - maybe i'm emotional today‬‬


feels like two exhausted entities, one over the other


‪I am glad you see it as emotional. And yes, I hope the body comes across. Most of my work is concerned with the body. Either representing the emotional field of the body or embodied perceptions.‬‬


‪i did not want to say bodies, but that is what i see‬‬


‪That's OK. My work exists between representation and abstraction as a body object.‬‬


‪so then yes, two bodies, molded by a non-body structure - the surrender of the bodies and the adjacency makes it emotional‬‬


although i see that the lower body and the structure become one


‪Interesting. I am always interested in how others see the paintings and forms. There is an ambiguity that I strive for that allows for multiple interpretations.


‪what's yours?‬‬


‪I almost hate to say. I have for a long time been working with the portrait form--the face or head a traditional focus in painting--as the perceptual form we are all biologically hardwired to perceive. So I see this as a portrait head.




that's so far from what i see






i guess i have love on my mind

Cara Tomlinson

Inhaliation, 2015

Oil on Linen

40 x 38 in.

the second painting


equally emotional for me




and the title really makes a difference


Yes, this painting went through many changes--2 years worth--before the color and form all came together. I wonder do you see two bodies or one here?‬‬


"Inhaliation" - wait - is that misspelled on purpose?‬‬


Yes, good observation. Many of my titles are mixtures of two words: like "catchbump" or "propspose" I don't want the titles to narrow the interpretation. Instead I like to give a word that sounds like the painting and opens up a general realm of meaning. ‬‬


i completely read inhalation - and being a horrible speller, it took me a while to catch it‬‬


for me, it is not one or two bodies


but it is something that needs to breathe


grasping for air


and that's all it needs... i don't know, its sad and urgent and beautiful


Again, interesting. I always return to that interesting fact that we see color before form. The color space of a painting carries so much emotional information. It takes a long time to work color out. It is layered one over another and adjusted until it comes together.‬‬


‪do you mean the contrast between the form and the black background?‬‬


or the actual colors... i was not looking at those, not initially anyway


i did notice later the pink cavities as potential for two bodies that are also breathing one another in


and the colors do lend that information


‪Yes, the actual colors. Black is a color too.‬‬


‪i'm not going to get into the black is not a color talk...


but i disagree


if this was a line pr the outline of the form, it would have the same effect


‪Interesting. ‬‬


‪it is the outline that creates the voids in the form that makes it seem like it is grasping for air‬‬


and the title tells me that


i've never been a fan of titles in general but this one works really well


‪I am glad that you see the balance of negative/positive void/solid--they make up the language I am interested in working with.


‪and that's not to belittle the colors at all - the form and title work really well - the colors are an extra layer of narrative


good, good!


so then... it makes me think of the piece we started the conversation with... if the title had been something about a face.. not sure i would have had the same experience‬‬


Yes, and that is why I don't like to tell people where I start with form-- because it narrows and flattens the possibilities. ‬‬



Cara Tomlinson

Catchbump, 2015

Oil on Linen

40 x 38 in.

so i wanted to jump to another typology of work that seems very far from emotional




‪for example "Catchbump"‬‬


it's architectural, scientific perhaps...


‪OK. You don't see as emotional?‬‬


methodical in a structural way‬‬




no at all emotional


do you?


Yes. But true not about a body state. It is coming from some research and a series of drawings  I was working on last year influenced by reading about pre-Socratic ideas of vision.


Vision was often poetically conceived as happening outside the body in a physical substance like ether where both the eye and object came together and physically touched one another.


Another theory stated that the object sloughed off a skin or representation of itself that the observer's eye would receive. These two paintings, "Catchbump" and "Eyethereor" both started in my trying to represent these early philosophies.‬‬


where the object meets the eye‬‬


totally not emotional - it's a scientific exploration


Or eye meets eye and the loop is closed.‬‬


‪do you mean like when we look at one another?‬‬


Yes, maybe a bit more scientific.‬‬


And, yes. To be in the gaze of another or even in the gaze of the painting.


Looking at looking.


‪that sort of reminds me of the experience of standing between two mirrors - except the infinite happens elsewhere...inversely perhaps... not in the eyes (or mirrors) but where they meet, which is me... and maybe i'm confusing myself now‬‬


as in the real substance is somewhere between the eye and the object

or the eye and the eye


not in the object itself or in the mind


‪I like the example. And, yes, I think you are on to something.


Ideally I hope my ‬‬work brings up some of these ideas.


Color is also an experience that does not at first appear to be in the mind or the object but somewhere shimmering between them (even though science will tell us differently)‬‬


science lacks a lot of magic‬‬


and some truth is definitely found in magic