From elephants and crocodiles wandering through her yard, to hearing hippos eat the front lawn at night, Carla Grace’s childhood connection with wildlife has now become her passion.
She is a talented South African born, Australian based wildlife artist who uses realism, acrylic and oil paints to paint her subjects and evoke a strong connection with the viewer.
Renowned for her level of detail and artistry, she has been a finalist in many awards including the Kennedy Art Prize, Bluethumb Portrait Competition, David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year, and winner of the RSASA YouthScape 2D Award in 2018.
Along with her husband and two children, she now calls Aldinga Beach in Adelaide her home, where her studio is based. She recently returned to the studio after taking parental leave, and is now looking to grow Carla Grace Art and branch out further to reach collectors and opportunities.
From her childhood through to her mid-20s, Carla moved between Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Zambia and Australia.
Growing up in the tropical savannas in Zimbabwe, she remembers how her parents would teach her about the environments and wildlife around her. She learnt how to track animals, read their markings and behaviours and accept them as part of life.
“I finally got the chance to return to Africa a few years ago and joined a Safari tour to share the experience with my husband and see some of the animals I grew up around. It was amazing how much of that animal knowledge just came flooding back,” says Carla.
“I think I may have slightly annoyed the tour guide with all the little details I added in, and things I pointed out, but I was just so excited to feel that connection again.”
Her realism paintings never feature animals in aggressive poses. Instead, Carla wants the viewer to see animals that are comfortable, at home in their habitat and create a connection with them as they usually are.
“I do prefer to paint wilder or carnivorous creatures to create connections that people wouldn’t normally have with these animals. I like to challenge the fear that many people have of these animals,” says Carla.
Aside from the animal kingdom, Carla’s other inspiration has been some of the strong, independent women in her family. Her grandmother, also an artist, helped develop Carla’s artistic curiosity and understanding of resilience through her experiences surviving a Japanese POW camp in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, her aunt-in-law helped her to see and take her art seriously and turn it into a business.
As for what comes next, Carla has her eyes set on branching out to new projects and ideas that help to delve further into the animal world as she looks to grow her business.
“I’d love to do some more large-scale pieces and perhaps partner with a conservation group to capture endangered species and help create a warm connection with them that supports the cause,” she says.
“I really can’t picture a world without animals, so if I can help create genuine connections between causes that protect animals and their audiences that can generate lasting change, I want to be a part of that.”