-above “Foxxy” by Candy Carver
I enter Letters bookshop on Main Street and see Candy Carver sprawled out on the floor, cross-legged, canvas on lap, with a floppy bag open and tubes of acrylics spilling out as she paints. She greets me with a big smile, and I immediately feel drawn to sit down beside her. As we chat casually about her art and life, the vibrancy of her colors and personality lift me out of what has been the grayest of days.
“I’m a lefty, so I’m kind of messy, but that’s what life’s about,” she says, “I can always add new layers. That’s what I love about acrylics.”
Adding new layers of color to life each day—who can ask for anything more? I watch as she dips a brush into her palette—a solid piece of Styrofoam recycled from the Scrap Exchange. She adds touches to orbs of color on female figures. A golden shoulder becomes copper. A pale yellow cheek turns cocoa. Hair of lavender and ocher. One eye green, one eye pink. Natural mixtures spring from the canvas, and so does Candy’s spirit.
I ask if she has a studio, or whether she wanders through the city, setting up shop at multiple locations with her portable canvas, paints, brushes, and palette.
“I’m an only child of an only child and I’m very social. I enjoy being around people and I love to paint.
There was a time when I would feel torn about whether to paint or spend time with friends.
One day I decided to put it all in the car and paint wherever I went. Once I did, I realized that no one was bothered by it, they actually enjoyed it. From that point on, I left the house with art in tow.”
I notice that Candy’s paintings line the tops of the bookshelves at Letters. They give the room another dimension, bringing an earthy feel up to the rafters. In the age of Pop-ups, Candy’s style is truly drop-down. She’s flexible and comfortable in a variety of settings.
Maybe this has something to do with her upbringing. When she was young, her family moved from Durham to Indiana, and she lived in Indiana through college. But every summer, she returned to visit her grandmother, who lived in the Walltown neighborhood of Durham. When she finished college, she relocated to Durham and has lived here ever since.
Although there were no artists or emphasis on art in her family, Candy took every kind of art class that she could while in high school. Now, acrylics is her medium of choice. Painting makes her happy, and it’s her way of spreading joy in the world.
In early April, Candy will coordinate the Second Annual “Paint Durham” event at Letters bookstore. It’s a day of creativity, open to all with music and juggling and poetry and pure self-expression. She’s taken several local, middle school students under her wings to help coordinate the event and to give them more exposure to the local art scene.
It seems so simple, to live a life geared towards spreading joy. How many of us long to be on this path, yet never get there? Candy makes it look easy-and beautiful. Come to Letters and take a close look at her paintings. And hopefully, as the weather warms in spring, you’ll catch Candy dropping down and coloring the world in a setting near you.