Deena C. BouknightContributing Writer

Artist Carol Conti exhibits regularly at the Uptown Gallery on Main Street in Franklin. The exhibit changes every two months. Conti is vice president of publicity and marketing for the gallery.

Carol Conti’s art expresses her life’s journey so far. In an exhibit unveiled Saturday, August 4, with an open-to-the-public reception from 2 to 4 p.m., Conti shares a sneak peek into some of the places along her road less traveled. “Painting Along the Way,” available for viewing throughout August at the Macon County Public Library in Franklin, showcases such sites as the coastal waters of Maine, the mountains of North Carolina, the varied landscape in southern France, and architectural and natural aspects of Florida. About 30 paintings will be on display. Along with the paintings, she will have a few of her repurposed/recyclable-material semi-abstract and abstract relief sculptures on display. And, some attention will be focused on a few of her pastel and acrylics, as well as her watercolor mandalas.

About her work Conti shares, “Watercolor has been my passion for close to 40 years, when I was first introduced to the fun and ‘happy’ accidents of the medium. This easily transportable medium has allowed me to paint ‘plein-air’ [painting outdoors] as I have found nature to be my best teacher. My landscape paintings are done in an impressionistic style showing a sensitivity to the play of light and the emotional energy I derive from being outdoors.”

In 2016, Conti retired from public education to pursue art and instruction full-time, moving from central Florida to Franklin. Even though she is originally from Connecticut, the North Carolina mountains are now home to her. 

“That’s why I enjoy plein-air because the Appalachian landscape reminds me of where I grew up in Connecticut. I’ve been a lot of places and a lot of places have influenced my work. I’m always looking for the new. I never stay static. If it’s time to try something new, I do,” she said.

In Franklin, she is involved in Uptown Gallery on Main Street as vice president of publicity and marketing, and she teaches classes there. She also teaches workshops at The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands. 

“I have had the privilege to instruct all age groups from elementary, middle/ high school, college, and adults,” Conti says.  “I am continually exploring new mediums and techniques not only to expand my knowledge as an artist but to pass on the excitement of learning to my students.” 

Indeed, although mostly watercolor paintings are on display in the library’s “Painting Along the Way” exhibit, her artistic skills have been articulated through painting with oils, acrylics, and pastels as well. She has completed sculptures, monoprints, stamping and textures underneath watercolor paintings, architectural renderings, t-shirt designs, and murals. 

Always, though, Conti is focusing on conveying the world around her. 

“My work expresses my delight in painting the illuminated and shadow areas of a subject matter. Whether it is light catching the delicate petals of a flower or sunlight bathing the side of a building, I am fascinated with the effects of light on a surface and the shapes of color values juxtaposed to each other. Every time of day and place is a new discovery.”

Conti’s art on display changes every two months at Uptown Gallery. Currently showcased is a wall of colorful and intricate mandalas featuring everything from birds and butterflies to bears and deer. Her work is also in private and corporate collections throughout the United States, Canada, and England. She has been presented numerous art awards and has      exhibited in group and solo exhibitions primarily throughout New England, Florida, and North Carolina. 

“God’s given me this gift to share. To me, the enjoyment is in doing it, and then it’s time to let it go once it’s finished. Time to let it bring joy into others’ lives. That gives me a lot of satisfaction,”  Conti says about her artistic ability.

In May 2019, Conti will travel to Italy where she plans to add to her extensive volume of work. 

“I’ve never been there so it will be a time to explore Venice, Florence, Rome, and Pompei, and see how the landscapes inspire me. I will photograph many scenes and paint when I return.”