Info about our artist members

Carol Abitabilo Ast

My professional life has always focused on two main concerns: education and art.  After obtaining a B.S in Art Education and an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Pratt Institute, I began teaching art at an elementary school near Ithaca, N.Y.  While there, I pursued my interest in the relationship between art and learning by obtaining a PhD from Cornell University.  After raising my children, I finally began to concentrate on my own art in the form of painting, using pastels, and later taught art courses to adults in Ithaca, and my own workshops in New Mexico, New York, and Maine. 

My main subjects are landscapes, seascapes, and oysters. Of all the components of land and sea, I love and revere most the sky, and the sense of distance. The sky acts as a colossal backdrop, setting the stage for an entire picture. Whether just a corner of a painting or the focus of an entire painting, the sky casts light which determines the atmosphere of each painting. Regarding the sense of distance, or space: that is what “outside” is all about.

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A few years ago, I found three-dimensional forms in the shells of oysters which were as complex and diverse as the natural forms in landscape. Although at first sight oyster exteriors are just discolored, gnarled, and barnacled covers of their edible contents, scrubbing that irregular and ugly shell often reveals colors and sculptural forms worthy of not just a closer look, but of portrayal. And so I paint oyster “portraits”!

Oysters present a unique situation to the landscape painter. When painting land or sea, a tiny portion of an entire environment is reduced to a relatively small image. However, when painting an oyster, a subject which is usually not larger than about 3 to 5 inches, it is enlarged several times in order for its beauty to be shown in a clear and compelling way.

While in Ithaca, I was a member of the State of the Art Gallery, exhibiting regularly in group shows, as well as in solo and two-person exhibits there and in other exhibits in the US. I'm a member of the Pastel Society of New Mexico, recently winning an award at their 26th annual juried exhibit. I’m also a member of the Degas Pastel Society and was awarded a purchase prize from their 18th Biennial Exhibition for Freight House, Hole in the Roof. I am now happy to be a member of the Saltwater Artists, and to being part of the art community here.