Local Talk: Q+A with local Montclair artist Carrie Emma Pradieu

I've known you for several years but never knew you were an artist. That said, your work is bold, beautiful and inspiring. Did I miss something OR do you keep your work under wraps?

Thank you! I've been juggling family and career (as we all do) primarily working around my children's schedules and exploring various creative projects.

My background is in fashion and print which I studied at Central Saint Martins art school in London.  Though I have been creating all my life I hadn't done much painting until recently.  As my children grow more independent I am gradually finding more time to focus on my work.

To answer your question, I do not keep my work under wraps! I have had three solo exhibitions in the last year or so, two at Anthropologie and one in NYC at Verdigreen as well as various pop-up events.


You work with a variety of found and recycled material which is outstanding as both a message and a medium. How did you begin to work with discarded objects in this way and what emotional elements does it add to your work?

I have a tendency to hoard!  My studio is bursting at the seams with things that I collect with the intention of using in my work at a later date - for example, my children know to always save the gift wrap which I turn into papier mache lanterns or bowls and I can be found sloshing through my friend's stretch of river upstate, searching for unusual shaped rocks to paint!

I've collected beautiful found objects since I can remember.  I was brought up to respect nature and the environment and to recycle and minimize waste, plus it made sense to use what I have around me since the cost of supplies is exorbitant!

I am constantly inspired by and connected to nature, to use a rock or some leaves in my work or to up-cycle some inanimate object and give it new life is highly rewarding and freeing as it forces you to work sympathetically with the nature of the object rather than be restricted by the confines of a two-dimensional canvas.


Your work has great names like Purple Rain, Pisces and All is Calm. Do you start out with a name and then create or start with a concept and name the piece after?

I never start out with a name!  I begin with a concept and sometimes that changes throughout the process but the name comes to me (or not) after I have initialed the painting and put the brush down.  

Alongside nature, music is a huge influence and Purple Rain was actually a personal tribute after Prince passed.


Artists can be hard on themselves. Is there a past moment that you can identify as the tipping point to when you believe your work reached a point where you were satisfied with the outcome?

It's a continual process!  I'm never satisfied.  I can finish a canvas and  be like "Wow, love that!" and then immediately want to move on to another and re-explore color, scale, layers, space, energy etc.  I'm having crazy conversations in my head, it's exhausting, sometimes agonizing, other times exciting and exhilarating.


You've been in Montclair for many years now. What initially brought you here from the UK and what do you love most about it?

I initially came to New York City whilst studying at art school to gain work experience and worked at various print studios in the garment district.

I guess I like the melting pot that Montclair and the city are and the sun and blue skies even on crisp winter days.


Can you tell us something that you have discovered about Montclair that no one else (or few others) know?

I don't know how many others know of it, it's always very quiet but if you can find the entrance to the Wildlife Preserve which borders Montclair and Clifton, it's quite lovely with streams and wooded areas.


What does being local mean to you?

In England we refer to a convenient pub (usually within walking distance) as the 'local' and it will usually be frequented by 'locals' (inhabitants of the surrounding village or area).   I guess for me then local is familiar, it's relating, it's belonging.

(Leave it to the Brits to connect alcohol to a coffee shop!)


What is your favorite tea or coffee beverage?

Lapsang Souchong tea and probably Local's own cappuccino.