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Imitating Life: Posing questions to local artist Caryn Baumgartner

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“Jade,” oil on paper

Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor

Bugs. That was the subject of Long Beach artist Caryn Baumgartner’s earliest work when she was 3 years old. “Being 3, my field of vision was pretty low,” Baumgartner says. “To my mother’s horror, I proudly presented my first drawing of ‘Bugs on the Kitchen Floor.’ As my mother was— and is— an impeccable housekeeper, I can only presume that my imagination was already shaping up.”
She says her subject matter has evolved since then and her more recent work has dealt with the dreams, fantasies and imaginary lives of childhood and our imperfect memories of that time.
“I am exploring new palettes and methods with these pieces to help convey the experiences, fears and joys of childhood that in many cases linger on and still haunt us as adults,” she explains in her artist statement. “I have always been drawn to the human form, as it is a dichotomy of fragility and force. My figural pieces are expressions of hope, regret, vulnerability, strength, memory and sorrow. Through form, color and line I let the composition evolve instinctively and frequently carve into the pieces for added emotional texture.”
Untitled, charcoal and oil on board

Untitled, charcoal and oil on board

The mostly self-taught California Heights resident, who has a boutique brand and design company located in downtown Long Beach, creates her art in the garage she’s converted into a home studio, primarily using oil and mixed media.

Why do you make art?

I love the process of creating. I especially enjoy those moments where you lose all track of time and transcend the act itself— when it becomes a seamless back-and-forth with the material and canvas that you no longer think about but is happening on its own accord.

If, for some reason, you could no longer create art, what would you do?
Can’t imagine.

Is there anything that blocks you as an artist?

Do you have a favorite piece of art you’ve created?

I have a few pieces I won’t sell, yes.

Do you have a favorite piece of art that someone else has made?
Too many to list!

Do you have a least-favorite color?

No, not really. Least-favorite combinations of colors, yes. But I find beauty in gray as much as I do red.

Untitled, mixed media on panel

Untitled, mixed media on panel

To view more of Baumgartner’s work, visit .

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Imitating Life: Posing questions to local artist Caryn Baumgartner