“A Portrait of the Artist, Carole Osman” by student intern, Nydheri Brown


O-Jizo-San Shrine, Pastel, 19,5″ x 25″ by Carole Osman

Carole Osman was kind enough to allow Art in Bloom to interview her. It was a lot of fun, and Carole was a great host.

When Jamie and I walked in, Carole’s house had a welcoming floral scent from the fresh cut flowers from an ikebana arrangement that Carole was working on in the kitchen. We were amazed by Carole’s vast collection of objects from around the world: Germany, Turkey, Japan, Korea—even rare furniture from North Korea—and from other countries Carole had lived or visited over the years. She toured us around her home, and allowed us to preview several of the pieces that she planned to show at Art in Bloom. Inside her studio, she had an easel set up where she was working on “Auspicious Symbols,” and surrounding her work space were photos of schools where she had taught, and her ceremonial tea equipment.  After visiting her studio, we sat down at her kitchen table for the interview while she prepared tea and served us cookies.

  1. How did you print the lace in “Riverside”? Did you use the additive or subtractive method? Or another method?

Carole told us that she used the additive method. Basically, what this means is that Carole cut the hexagonal shapes out of stiff waxed paper, inked them, and placed them onto the paper. Then, she ran the paper and the inked lace through a large flat-bed etching press. She repeated this same process three or four times to achieve the desired effect. Carole said that one of the advantages of the method is that it allows you to experiment.

  1. What drew you to do a pastel on the O-Jizo-San? We read that the O-Jizo-San are depictions of a Buddhist saint who protects unborn children and kind people.

Carole told us that these statues are “ubiquitous to Kyoto,” and she “felt connected to” these mothers who personalized them. Sometimes the mothers would put bibs on them, crochet beanies, or even put out little ducks in a row by the statues. She decided to draw them, because she was curious about why the mothers did this.  “Did their child die, are they wishing for the health or success of their child?” She said it “made me really wonder about the spirit of someone…putting that energy into it.”

Carole told us that an artist’s statement is essentially “becoming intimate with the subject,” and that is what happened for her with the O-Jizo-San. She started feeling connected to the mothers who personalized them, taken care of them.

She said another reason she felt connected to the O-Jizo-San at the time was because while she was painting it she was looking after her mother.

  1. What inspired “It’s a Bee’s Life”? Is this a free-hand design or is it based on a photo or a scene in real life?

Carole saw a lifeless bee on the ground near her studio in Germany, picked it up, and decided to paint and recreate it. Now when she looks at it, she thinks she was ahead of her time, since the bees are facing a threat to their survival.

Carole loves nature, and believes “nature is really very healing”.

  1. A lot of the city scapes you depict seem to be taken from the angle of looking out of a window. Is this your way to remember scenes from the places you lived or visited?

Carole loved to paint landscapes when she lived in the country—often, en plein air. Then, she moved to the city of Kaiserslautern in Germany where she lived on the 3rd and 4th floor of a four story villa. She studied the way the sky came down and touched the rooftops, and these roofscapes became her new landscapes.

  1. I thought “Who Am I” looked a lot like the inside of a dollhouse, because the animals in the picture look like toys, and the girl in the dress looks like a doll. Was that your intention? Also, who is the person in “Who Am I”? We thought the painting looked like a saint, and so we looked up images of saints and found Saint Therese. Is it her, and if so, why did you choose her?

It turns out our guesses were correct, because the painting is based on a shadow box of memories from Carole’s life. The box includes a holy card of St. Therese from her aunt’s funeral, three toy horses for her daughter who loves horses, and a Barbie doll and another doll. Carole said everything in the box has a meaning and all is kept inside.

Thank you so much Carole for your time and sharing your work with us!