Joel Carpenter says he'd turn down $10,000 if you tried to commission him to paint a specific subject. Not because he doesn't need the money he is an artist, after all but because the process would repress his creativity.
"It would be torture," he says. "When I start painting, I just start putting paint on the canvas and moving it around until I see something develop. But I really don't know what I'm painting until I'm done."
The 53-year-old, who's a master carpenter on the side (yes, Joel Carpenter is a carpenter), says some of his best paintings came out of moments of freedom, in which he detached from his classical training from the University of Southern Colorado (now Colorado State University-Pueblo) and just allowed things to happen.
"I like to break the rules," he says. "I understand color and composition, and I try to do something different each time. That's when I feel like I'm really communicating with the canvas."
Focusing primarily on the figure, Carpenter's abstract paintings are uncluttered and often reflect a childlike quality.
"I try to be in tune with the child creativity," he says. "Picasso spent his whole life trying to be 5 years old. I try to hold on to the child, which isn't hard because I never really grew up."
The new work he's showing in Pueblo was inspired by an opening he had in Chelsea, N.Y., earlier this year. While the show didn't produce a great financial payoff, Carpenter says it was a critical success, and he managed to get a few good reviews out of the experience, including one in ARTisSpectrum magazine.
"In New York, good artists are a dime a dozen, and great artists are four for a dollar," he says. "So if you manage to get noticed even a little bit, it's quite an accomplishment."
In a New York State of Mind: Oil paintings by Joel Carpenter
Wireworks Gallery and Coffee Shop, 103 S. Union Ave., #110, Pueblo
Show runs through Jan. 15; Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free; call 719/543-3000 for more.