Artist Carla Weeks painting a large green work in her studio.

Carla Weeks tells us how pattern, color, and memory are intertwined in her work.

Where are you from and where do you reside?

I’m originally from England, but I am currently living and working in Maine.

Did you go to art school?

In terms of formal technique and process, I'm self taught. I studied Art History, after which I pursued a string of design jobs in a variety of fields, all of which taught me a range of skills that I still draw on daily.

What themes or motifs are you consistently drawn to?

Pattern and a sense of place are the two major ideas within my work. I'm drawn to pattern as a vehicle to transcribe my experiences of places and record important memories. Transience, movement, and temporality are also consistently surfacing ideas.

Artist Carla Weeks painting a neutral wall mural.
Geometric, gray and blue paintings on canvas by artist Carla Weeks.

What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?

I'm fascinated and frightened by the concept of memory and how it is this ever-shifting version of a place or experience unique to the individual that holds it. I think what I am sometimes subconsciously trying to do in my work is explore the various versions of the colors and shapes that I've experienced in a place. Through pattern I can show multiple moments of a memory in one image.

Why do you choose to work with repeated patterns?

I have always loved pattern, for a long time just through observing its presence in textiles, architecture, and decorative painting in every culture––how it's a mysterious language that communicates something subliminal and just out of reach––something that demands research and focus and curiosity to understand. I love that about it. I suppose now I am figuring out how to develop a pattern language of my own.

You have a site-specific practice that relates to your painting - do you find one informs the other?

Definitely! Each time I take on a new large scale site-specific work, such as a mural, I learn something more about my approach toward pattern, balance, color and technique. I love the opportunity to work large with pattern and to work a little looser and freer than I would on a smaller canvas. Murals teach me to remain highly organized and planned, while embracing the imperfections and obstacles that the specific architectural quirks of a given space might present.

I'm drawn to pattern as a vehicle to transcribe my experiences of places and record important memories.

Carla Weeks

Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?

In a broad sense, through the shapes, colors, and geometries of the built and natural landscape. However, I'm most activated when I visit a new city or country; exposed to new shapes and colors, trying to discern the pattern language of that environment. I know a body of work will come from a trip when the journey home is spent scribbling ideas in my notebook.

Where do you feel you create your strongest work?

My work environment has a huge impact on my state of mind, and in turn my work is absolutely affected. Natural light and an open, adaptable space is a big factor, both impacting my mood and my ability to function efficiently. I’m lucky to have a work environment with big windows and lots of space (even though it does make for a chilly winter).

Describe a typical day in the studio for you.

Each day starts with a walk to the park with Aggie (my dog), followed by coffee and a couple of news podcasts while I go through my punch list (I depend on lists!). I try to jump into the more physical hands-on work earlier in the day or the computer sucks me in and time flies. Also, fresh air is key! Whenever possible I try to arrange an afternoon meeting, walk, errand, or museum visit to break up my day and revive productivity.

Artist Carla Weeks painting a large green work on canvas in her studio.
Small, geometric monochrome paintings installed on a white wall in artist Carla Weeks' studio.

What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?

Arriving at (and feeling satisfied with) the final composition before starting to work on a painting. I do a lot of research, planning and sketching before I start physically working on a piece, as my process does not allow room for big mistakes.

Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?

Definitely. While my compositions are very planned and mapped out, my use of color is much more fluid. I like to mix color as I go, allowing for a subtle range of tonal shifts throughout each piece. It’s a soothing process that I thoroughly enjoy after lots of meticulous planning!

How does your choice of color inform the final piece?

Color is one of the most important aspects of my work––and it is in mind from the beginning. I consider color and shape equally, and they inform each other as the work develops.

Murals teach me to remain highly organized and planned, while embracing the imperfections and obstacles that the specific architectural quirks of a given space might present.

Carla Weeks

How do you choose your materials?

I love applying my ideas to different mediums. In my paintings I highlight the texture, and sometimes the color, of the surface I'm working on (linen, wood, etc) and let it become part of the piece though transparent layers of oils. I enjoy working with oils because they allow you to take your time and rework areas as needed.

How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?

In the last couple of years I’ve been experimenting with different mediums and techniques that allow me to approach pattern, such as large scale murals and textiles, in conjunction with painting. I plan on continuing to develop these languages, allowing them to overlap and influence each other.

Have you ever collaborated, or would you?

I've learned that it's very important for me to maintain a balance of work that requires both solitary studio time, and collaborative environments. This year I'm working on a couple of collaborative projects with really talented friends; one involves some printed apparel, and another painted ceramics. Projects that push you to see your work differently always open up new doors and perspectives.

Artist Carla Weeks holding a large, neutral arch painting on a white brick wall.
Small arch paintings by artist Carla Weeks bathed in light in her studio.

Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?

In high school I was obsessed with the angular line work of Egon Schiele and the decorative patterns of Gustav Klimt. While I'm much more drawn to minimalist work now, I can still relate and get excited by that work.

What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?

I have two beautiful wood-fired ceramic vessels that I brought back from a trip to Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf. The colors captured my experience of the landscape and architecture there, and I thought they might help me remember it.

What’s next for you?

While I will continue painting, I love the tactile dimension that textiles lend to my work. I enjoy that it makes the work a little less precious, while lending an approachable, durable, and functional quality. I am currently making printed fabric pieces in conjunction with my painting practice. They will, and already are, informing each other in interesting ways.

Post updated April 8, 2024.