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Molly Carlisle

Molly E. Carlisle

Her face is a treat for the eyes. Alternately her features make her as a rosy-cheeked matrioshka, a witty elf, a blond Eskimo or a porcelain-face character in an 18th century painting, frolicking in the woods. Like her art, a delicate, pure and cheery expression. Molly doesn’t claim it very loudly, but she is a brilliant illustrator and her work speaks powerfully for itself. Using watercolor, oil or ink, she shares her vision of a realistic although magical world which the viewer wants to enter. A clown fish with a crown, a panther wearing a knitted cap, a little girl and a fat cat… Her pencil traces every single leaf on a tree, hair on a bear, velvety line a corduroy costume, like the mesmerizing Dutch painters she cherishes. However, these precision and perfection (she speaks about honesty : I wish I could be honest like that with a pen) is only remarkable because it benefits her quaint sensibility. Her poetry reaches a peak when she reinterprets fairy tales or when she stages her intimate imagination. As far back as she can remember, she has always been drawing. In her memory she’s not even 5 and she spends hours drawing on this unending sheet of journal paper her mum brought from the local printer and put for her on the farm table. Her life didn’t change that much. “I can not imagine not doing it.” Raised in a creative family (mum is a ballerina, auntie a famous folk artist, brother a boat builder, sister 1 is a painter and sister 2 a publisher), the youngest beloved kid “named like old ladies and dogs” attended Mount Holyoke College (the first member of the Seven Sisters colleges which from September 2014,  allows admission of all women – both those born biologically female and those who identify as female, but still no men), and spent a year studying painting and printmaking at the Lorenzo de’Medici School in Florence, Italy. While she can make a living by selling her art, she has had many jobs, from teaching to retail. But it can be very “dehumanizing” to work in a store smiling all the time, she says, stifling a great laughter. Now she has portrait or illustration commissions, and she babysits sometimes. An easier job for Molly who feels like a child most days, and has right now on her face, listening to my questions, this childlike pure unconsciousness, her mouth open and her eyes staring wide.

“ I am an escapist, I need to escape and art gives me that opportunity. I love drawing because you can be intuitive, secretive…” Her talent, for its part, will not stay a secret much longer. AG