Meet Mysi Carroll : Featured Artist

In this installment, Barry Wachtel Presents Inc, sits down with featured artist Mysi Carroll to talk about her process and the inspirations behind her art.

What art do you most identify with?

I can’t really say I identify with other artists work, but if Alfonse Mucha and Peter Max had a love child….

Of my own work, I most identify with my starry night and northern light depictions. I am completely enamored with the sky and the cosmos. It is fascinating to me that something so massive in our existence is so mysterious and intangible. 

What work do you most enjoy doing?

I enjoy painting gnarly trees, and abstract or expressionistic figure paintings with alcohol ink the most. Alcohol Ink became my favorite medium the moment I first worked with it. The lack of control that I have over how the colors react to one another and the substrate they are used on almost feels like I have created art via a science experiment. It is very difficult to obtain specific results with, and it forces me to leave my perfectionist hat on the hook. 

What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?

I have quite an inventory of frames gathered from resale shops and family attics of some very supportive and generous people. I have found it easier to create something to fit a frame I have, rather than have to find a frame for something I have created. So I kind of work backwards. I choose a frame that I want to use, and cut my yupo to fit it. Then, depending on the shape and color of the frame, choose my subject and palette. I rarely sketch anything out before I paint unless I need to mask off areas to keep white.

My work area has to be Zen. My table cleaned off, floor vacuumed and a stick of nag champa lit. I put on some upbeat jazzy techno and get down to business.

What is your favorite thing that you have created?

I did a carving on a mushroom that I am entirely too proud of. I loved wandering around in the woods hunting for the mushrooms. If you touch the white fleshy part of mushroom it immediately turns brown, so imagine traipsing through the woods with a heavy 21” x 15” plate with a perfectly frosted cake that you had to make it home with to serve later, that’s what this was like.

The image was created by carefully etching into the mushroom with a toothpick. I had to be extremely careful not to rest my hand on it at any point. I found it truly satisfying to have created something I had to struggle for, and it gave me a great story to tell about the piece.

What jobs have you had other than being an artist?

I’ve worked in a plastic packaging company and did the retail business for a few years, but I’ve spent the last 26 years as a Floral Designer. I started in the floral industry processing and maintaining the fresh product that came in at high end/ high traffic floral shop. After observing for a while decided I needed to try designing. I caught on quickly and became responsible for the labor intensive sympathy pieces, and more contemporary design work.

Through my experience with flowers I developed a strong taste for color, composition and texture. It has carried over into my artwork as well as my jewelry designing. 

What is the best advice that you have been given about being more creative?

So much!!! I think what resonates with my habits and personality the most is not waiting for the moment that you feel inspired. That moment doesn’t always come, and deadlines do. You have to just start. Even if you end up deep sixing several attempts your creative energy will get primed. It would be glorious if the clouds parted and you were graced with unlimited inspiration and the muse of your dreams, but it most definitely does not work that way. So in short, the best advice I’ve been given about being creative is JUST START CREATING. 

How do you know when a piece is finished?

I rarely do. It has been the demise of many pieces of work. At some point I have to stand back and say to myself…. If I have to ask, I already know.


Numbered and signed by the artist just for this occasion.