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Mixed Media Paintings by Toni Carlton to Open Until July 22 at Carlton Gallery in Banner Elk

June 19, 2012. A “Whispers of Life’s Journey” exhibit by Carlton Gallery owner and curator, Toni Carlton, is filled with mixed media paintings rendered with a central theme of peace and art blessings.

Toni Carlton - Connections of an Open HeartAn Artist’s Reception is planned for Saturday, June 23, 2 to 5 p.m. which affords an opportunity to meet Toni Carlton and discuss her work and visit her open studio upstairs. This exhibition opens the season for Avery Tour de Art held on the fourth Saturday of each month from June through November.

Carlton’s paintings combined with mixed media collage incorporate images from her personal life experiences, a love of dance, written messages, calligraphy and photographic images from her travels – Jamaica, Europe, Peru, Mexico, Belize, Hawaii and most recently India. She is inspired by different cultures, expressions of movement, heart connections and spiritual connotations. Calligraphy in various languages adds a three dimensional element, as she returns to the texture once used as a fiber artist. Beginning with writing in graphite and incorporating dyed and textured papers, hand-woven fibers, silhouettes, along with many layers of paint she creates her work to remind one to embrace the connection to all relations.

Many of the mixed media collages in Carlton’s “Whispers of Life’s Journey” exhibit reflect her interpretation of the balance of peace within the chaos from her recent trip to India – a very populated country in which the noise and activity of daily life becomes a song of prayer. With the many beautiful colors of India juxtaposed to the numerous shades of grays, she says, “As one travels through Toni Carlton - Spirit of the Breathmany walks of life witnessing both the pain and the beauty, the balance deepens the awareness of our heart journeys and opens us more to the connection of all, reflecting our own transformation”.

Some of the artwork also incorporates recent weavings with textured cotton and rayon threads woven with patterns from her fiber background to honor her Appalachian heritage. Carlton’s early years using weaving as an art form have come full circle to connect to her heritage with each thread woven as a prayer to become an integral part of a larger mixed media art piece.

In one of her most recent paintings called “Prayers of Many Colors” which began with bold, bright colors of the chakras, the brilliancy was softened by many layers of translucent paints, along with adding hand-woven fibers representing peace and replicating the colors of India to balance the dreariness and beauty of the country. In India there is a color for each day; so the women dress daily in relation to the colors of specific gemstones which reflect the healing properties of the earth. Carlton finds that creating her art in certain colors relates to what energy she wants to offer at the time. Turquoise is her favorite color which to her means communicating through an open heart.”

A few other new works in this exhibition have transfer images of close-ups of the intricate details in the architecture of the Taj Mahal as well Sanskrit words in calligraphy of blessings of peace, creativity and Namaste – (“I honor the place in you where Spirit lives – I honor the place in you which is of Love, Truth, Light, of Peace, when you are in that place in you I am in that place in me, then we are One”)Toni Carlton - Prayers of Many Colors

A graduate of Appalachian State University, Carlton earned degrees in Industrial Arts concentrating in woodworking, crafts and architectural drafting and Art Marketing with a minor in business. From fibers, sculpture, and photography to drawing and painting she still enjoys using multimedia in her artwork today to express the many layers in her ‘Whispers of Life’s Journey” exhibition. Her Artist’s Statement is – “I want my art to connect people to show we are all one. My hope is my original creations open hearts and touch souls to inspire and lift spirits. I will continue making art that is healing and helpful to develop an understanding of our interconnectedness”.

All are invited to view the” Whispers of Life’s Journey” exhibit by Toni Carlton which runs through July 22 at Carlton Gallery with a reception on Saturday, June 23 from 2-5 p.m. The Gallery’s Spring Group Exhibition continues through June 30 and the “We Celebrate Art” Summer Exhibition and 30th Anniversary Fete begins on July 7.