Carmen Gordon: The Inward Significance

“Humility”, 10.5×8.5, Oil, by Carmen Drake Gordon, Private Collection. Winner of Best of Show at the 2021 NOAPS Best of America Small Works National Juried Exhibition, Private Collection.

The emotion in this winning painting by Carmen Drake Gordon is palpable. The delicate rendering speaks softly, quietly, strongly. It is first a depiction of emotion, secondly a portrait. The expression is understood at once, whether the interpretation is sadness, wonder, questioning, or prayerful. It is understood by all, each in our own way; and undeniably a masterful painting.

Carmen Drake Gordon has been an artist from her very first memories. Working as a student teacher at The Academy of Classical Design, she developed a strong foundation in drawing and art history. From there she shared a studio with Paul S. Brown, “who mentored me and taught me how to see color and paint.” Along with other workshops, she has also been mentored by Michael Klein and Louis Carr, who helped guide her with both art and galleries.

“Rusty Enamel and Violets”, 18×30, Oil, Private Collection

Many artists have provided inspiration for the sensitive and delicate technique Gordon has achieved. For her still life and floral work, masters such as Fantin-Latour, Victoria Duboug and Rachel Ruysch along with contemporary artists Klein, Claudio Bravo, Henk Helmantel, Katie Whipple and Kathleen Speranza were influential. For her portrait work, she has studied the work of Colleen Barry, Will St. John and Alex Venezia.

“Dandelions”, 15.5×13.5, Oil, Private Collection

Gordon has chiefly focused on Still Life, which was the core of her training. She has recently turned to portraits and figures, a goal since the beginning of her career. Her main medium is oil, however she also works with charcoal and graphite. Often her paintings begin with a quick sketch, or at times and depending on the subject matter, she will compose a completed drawing for the painting. Very often the painting begins with the drawing directly on the support, done in raw umber.

Inspiration for her work comes from that which surrounds her; her farm, the roadside flowers or “time worn antiques…that stir my imagination into the past. There’s a sense of calm or oneness.” Her portraits are often inspired by the “emotion that the religious or allegorical work the masters would produce. I look to recreate this emotion and use antique clothing to inspire my stories.”

“Self Portrait”, 9×12, Oil, Collection of the Artist

Gordon uses a traditional palette of Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black, Ultramarine Blue, Brunt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Chinese Vermillion, French Vermillion, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, and Lead White. With an assortment of brushes, she paints on an aluminum composite panel which she prepares herself.

“Nasturiums”, 24×18, Oil, Private Collection.

Living on a farm, her day begins by tending to her animals and garden. This time spent in nature serves to bring joy and calmness, essential to her creative process. “If I am painting flowers, I will spend some time gathering them from my gardens, fields or nearby roadside ditches. Sometimes I will spend some time in my library searching for answers and inspiration”.

“Forsaken”, 23×48, Oil, Collection of the Artist.

Carmen Gordon has always aspired to be an artist, and her greatest accomplishment is the realization of that dream. Her strong foundation in drawing has allowed her to express the ideas and emotions that inspire her paintings; “It (drawing) is the foundation of the work, and then all the rest comes in play…and with regards to the rest, I think of a quote by Aristotle, ‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance’.

To see more of Carmen Drake Gordon’s work visit her website at

Her work is represented by Collins Galleries, Orleans, MA, and SugarLift, NY, NY.

To see the paintings from the 2021 NOAPS Best of America Small Works Exhibition, visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone NOAPS Blog Director

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