CARBONDALE — One look at Carol Good’s “Green With Envy,” a watercolor of a great egret in breeding plumage, simply doesn’t suffice.
The intense close-up of the egret’s face is both delicate and searing as the feathery plumes give way to a triangle of vibrant green leading to the bird’s staring eye. At first glance it is a bit disorienting. The human brain seems unable to process all this information in one glance.
Good doesn’t have a favorite painting of her own, noting, “I have one and then I paint another one, and that’s one, and then I move on to another one.” On the other hand, she said “Green With Envy” draws a lot of attention.
"This one is getting the most comments because first you have to find the picture,” she said. “That’s kind of the uniqueness of that one.”
The painting is the embodiment of Good’s self-professed goal: “While I try to convey reality, I’m more interested in capturing the mood, or personality of the subject.”
Good’s work will be on display at the Long Branch Café and Bakery in Carbondale beginning May 22. She will host an open house there from 7 to 9 p.m. May 25.
And, in 2020, her watercolors will be on display at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s Sanibel Island, the adopted home of the lifelong Carbondale resident. Greeting cards bearing Good’s work are currently sold at the Ding Darling gift shop.
Not bad for someone with no formal training.
“I didn’t pick up a paint brush until I was 47 years old,” Good said. “I was at a retreat with the church and took a class. That’s where I picked up a paint brush for the first time.
“It was just something I wanted to do. I never painted in oils. I use acrylics for backgrounds, but I don’t paint with them unless I have to. I just decided I was going to master this before I moved to another one. I’m a glass blower. I do silversmithing. I do all kinds of art, but I’d not been a painter.”
She takes her inspiration from the work of photographers.
“Absolutely,” Good said. “I see a bird that’s just the right picture and I just have to paint it right now. I have a whole stack of them in here. I want to stop doing cooking and everything and just sit and paint.”
And, each painting represents at least 50 to 60 hours of work.
“I’m a very slow painter, a very meticulous painter,” she said. “I use very small brushes. To get those feathers to come across the bill (on ‘Green With Envy’), I scraped those off with an Exacto knife.
“I’m not one of these who can go out, look at a bird and paint it. I don’t have the drawing skills. I don’t enjoy doing the drawing skills. I make an outside sketch and then I see layers of color. I will sometimes have 14 layers of watercolor on top of each other to get the right color.”
And, Good said there is also a mercenary side to her bird fascination.
“They sell,” she said. “Both men and women like them. Women like flowers and pretty things and men don’t. If you get a husband and wife that both like something, it’s easier to sell. I do it because I like it. If it sells, fine. That’s why I have all these pictures around.
“They sell in Florida and that’s where I’m living. I like to paint big so most of my good pictures are 22 X 28. The bigger it is, the easier it is for me to do … plus I have eye problems.”
Good’s work has received local accolades in the past couple of years, earning first place at the HerrinFesta Italiana 2017 art exhibition and taking best of show the previous year.