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Cary Dunlap Daly

Artist's Interview

How long have you been creating?
I honestly don't know...my parents love to remind me of the time when I was 2 or 3 and they locked themselves out of our apartment, with me inside. I couldn't let them in because I was too busy coloring. Maybe that was the earliest clue that drawing was some serious business for me. In any case, I can't remember a time when drawing wasn't my favorite means of expression. During dry spells I've found other outlets- sewing, decorating, writing, changing the mannequins' clothing when I worked retail...I've always been frustrated by "work" for which there was no visual or tangible end result.
What is your medium of choice?
Mainly acrylics, but I've also been messing around with fabric and beads, a little polymer clay, and I've been thinking about digging out my colored pencils and pastels.
What are your motivations for creating?
My sanity. Being an unemployed wife and mother of two is a pretty good way to lose your sense of self. On top of that, our daughter was diagnosed with brain and spinal tumors almost three years ago. I was emotionally and physically wrecked, and had to figure out how to deal. During one 7 week hospital stay, on a whim I decided to do some drawings to spice up the walls, and my desire to create was instantly rekindled. Anyone who has a sick child knows the awful feeling of helplessness. Being able to improve Sofie's environment and make her smile was one way for me to feel less helpless. As an added bonus, it's very relaxing and meditative for me and, as someone who doesn't attend religious services, one of the ways I feel connected to "God." So, aside from giving me a sense of purpose and identity, it's really become a vital part of my well-being.
What other artists and movements inform your work?
I'm especially drawn to children's book illustrators --Mercer Mayer, Graeme Base, Dr. Seuss, Lucy Cousins, Holly Hobbie, etc. I tend to be very literal and I love to appeal to kids, so I feel a strong kinship with that group. Also- Maxfield Parrish, Lucien Freud, Keith Haring, Rothko, every single Italian Renaissance painter (I'm obsessed with religious iconography), and, honestly, I gather a lot just browsing the galleries here at EBSQ. Even artwork that's in a completely different realm from mine is influential.
What do you find stimulating right now? How does this influence your creative process?
Everything! Faces, flea markets and thrift stores, kitschy stuff, vintage fabrics, the ghetto where my kids go to school (the burned out buildings, broken windows, graffiti). A lot of things are (to me) so ugly or disturbing or tacky or ridiculous that they're beautiful. I don't care for our blah Pittsburgh winters, so nature isn't doing much for me at the moment.
Read anything good lately?
I just finished "The Pleasure of My Company" by Steve Martin. It was a surprisingly sweet story (and not so surprisingly funny). And just started "Girl with a Pearl Earring"- I thought the mix of fact and fiction might bother me, but so far I'm enjoying it.
In what ways does Richard influence your personal work? And does it help or hinder having another artist in the house?
Rich has always had a lot more confidence as an artist and it's something I've tried to emulate. I think some of his graphic designer traits have rubbed off on me as well--the style of his compositions, his use of text. It's nice having someone around that you know, when you ask for an opinion, can give you an honest and valuable answer. On the other hand, it can be really annoying having another artist looking over your shoulder and NOT commenting. It drives me bonkers not knowing if he's moving objects and changing colors and shaking his head at my choice of subject!!! Mostly though, we've given each other a lot of encouragement and support as artists.
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
I'm a complete dork. Also, I'd love to have MORE support with Brain Tumor Action Week fundraising this year...we raised about $300 last year auctioning artwork on eBay, the goal for this year is $1000. I believe it's in May again, and I'll be posting in the forums soon with more info!

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