Using silhouetted forms of leaves, flowers and other plants, Mississippi artist Carlyle Wolfe Lee marks time and seasonal changes in her abstract and representational paintings.
The artist: Born in Gainesville, FL, she grew up in Canton, MS. She earned a BFA in painting from the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree in painting and drawing from Louisiana State University.
Lee also studied in Cortona, Italy, and afterward moved to Oxford, where she lives and works in a studio beside her home.
The goods & materials: Densely layered oil paintings on panels (from $6,000), intricate watercolors on paper (from $3,000) and graphite drawings on paper (from $1,000).
Also installations of stainless-steel and paper cutouts, which might bring to mind Matisse’s painted cutouts.
What’s popular: Works with some of her favorite paint colors, including Williamsburg Green Gold and Williamsburg Interference (colors which shimmer with iridescent mica). Also phthalo blues and greens, plus quinacridone magenta and violet.
The process: Since 2001, she has been making contour line drawings of plants. Lee began with zinnias and gradually started collecting a variety of blossoms and branches that mark the seasons.
From the drawings, Lee isolates silhouette shapes that she cuts out of paper. She then uses them as stencils to make oil paintings and works on paper – or cut out of metal to make sculptures.
Note: In her studio, Lee has 20 years of stencils, which she often reuses.
See her process: In this video, made by her husband. https://vimeo.com/426119165
Fun requests: Painting backdrops and creating T–shirt and website illustrations for Camp DeSoto, a girls’ summer camp on Lookout Mountain in Mentone, AL. She attended as a camper for three summers and later worked on staff.
Big breaks: Had many exhibits of her work over the years at the David Lusk Gallery, a contemporary art gallery with locations in Memphis and Nashville.
Honors: Awards and grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.
Spare time: Rides her horse Posy.
What’s new: Developing a version of her recent papercut linear zinnia installation using more permanent materials.
Also: Drawing roses, lantana, butterfly weed, clematis, and small bouquets, which she like to call posies, after her horse.
What’s next: Exhibition in October at Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans. Founded in 1993, the contemporary fine art gallery specializes in the works of Southern artists.
Where to buy: carlylewolfe.com
Get social at: carlylewolfelee on instagram