The first artwork Carla Bosch ever sold, to a teacher at her school, was a beautiful landscape painting of cosmos in overcast weather. Little did she know then that her name would one day rank among the top artists in the world.
In an interview given from her Texas home, Carla says although her art career has gone through various phases where she painted a variety of subjects, landscapes remain her passion. She paints mainly acrylics and her bold impressionistic approach allows her work to carry a lot of emotion. Her artwork has a magical effect and lights up any room.
Carla’s father, Anton Gericke, probably knew his daughter had a special talent when he arranged for her to take art classes when she was in Standard 5. She, in turn, says her dad opened his children’s eyes to the beauty around them.
“When we travelled, he would take the time to show us how beautiful light fell on a mountain or how the sun would break its way through the clouds. He often took me to galleries so we could admire the beauty of the art.
“He is an artist in his own right, but as a full-time pharmacist he could only create during his free time or when he took leave. He always encouraged me to live my dream and now, since he retired, he can also practice his first love,” Carla says.
She studied Interior Design at the Tshwane University of Technology, but chose painting as her career. Carla’s hard work paid off and soon well-recognised art galleries requested her work. Most of these galleries are loyal supporters to this day, and three of the most recognised art galleries in South Africa have hosted extremely successful Carla Bosch solo exhibitions.
With her art career blossoming, Carla has frequently been asked to paint certain subject matter and from this a series of clowns, coastal and harbour scenes and street settings was created. Her impressionistic approach allows her to paint from the eyes of her soul, and maybe this is why there is such powerful emotion within her artwork.
“At first I had to paint what was in demand in order to make a living. My concentration span isn’t long, and my creative process is broken into short sessions, but I paint fast.
“Being an artist always sounds romantic to others, but it can be physically and emotionally challenging, taking a lot of focus and hard work. I have developed a love for the palette knife technique and it took many hours of practice to refine the skill. The hard work paid off as it has proven to be very popular with collectors,” she explains.
Carla’s ambition to establish herself as an international artist led her to apply for an EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card in the USA. Based her artistic achievements and talents, it was duly awarded to her in January 2015 and she emigrated with her husband, Elroy, and their children, Sarah and Daniel.
Their first home was in California and, due to a changed market, she had to adapt to her environment. “I ventured into Plein Air paintings, which took me outdoors where I painted what I saw.” En plein air, or plein air painting, is the act of painting outdoors and contrasts with studio painting as it forces the artist to paint what is right in front of her and requires more of a realistic approach. “There are Plein Air competitions held all over the US and, typically for one week, you have to choose your scene from the immediate surrounding areas and paint it on sight. Painting outside can be very challenging. I’ve had to deal with anything from freezing conditions, rain, wind, extremely hot weather, changing light conditions and sometimes crazy people, but I love the pressure it creates, and it has allowed me to open my eyes to a new world.” Carla says she was in her element as this provided an ideal opportunity for her, Elroy, Sarah and Daniel to explore their new home country.
The family moved to Texas two years ago and “we now live in a smaller town on the outskirts of Austin”. “We feel more at home here and have been welcomed by the warm Texans. We have been well received by people in our community and it resembles a bit more of what we missed. It takes time to build relationships and it is no different elsewhere in the world. In South Africa we lived in Pretoria and the Cape and found that it takes many years of investment to settle in and make friends.”
When asked what her advice to young artists is, Carla is quick to answer: “Be fearless. When we are children we don’t have any fear and will try to paint, draw and give freedom to our creativeness. Artists need to cling to this freedom and to explore their art without fear. Don’t copy others’ work but rather draw inspiration from it and most importantly, be authentic.” Carla’s personality is as bright as her art and although she longs for her family in South Africa, she says she will remain fearless in her journey to brighten up the world.
Q & A with Carla
Favourite holiday in the USA:
Camping with the family. Her fondest memories are of time spent at Joshua Tree on the southern side of the Arizona desert.
Favourite holiday in SA:
The Kruger National Park. Carla and her family spent eight days in Kruger this past December. When they were still living in South Africa they would easily spend a month in the park.
Did you hold on to certain South African traditions?
We speak Afrikaans at home and we love to braai. My son is more of a traditionalist but we do miss our culture and beautiful language.
What goodies do you miss?
South African sweets, Appletiser and Cream Soda. Whenever we receive guests or go to SA we use the opportunity to stock up on Bovril, Iced Zoo cookies and rooibos. Baking in the US poses a challenge when I can’t find ingredients for certain recipes and I often have to improvise with replacements.