Bringing Beauty to Life
Carly Castillon is an amazing artist who knew from the time she was a young girl that she wanted to be an artist. It wasn't only a desire but an obvious choice. "My parents were always very supportive of my career choice. When I was in first grade, my teacher told my parents that they needed to get me into art classes because I was the only child in class who drew the classroom in perspective. All the other kids were just drawing a flat desk. I had three-dimensional and vanishing points."
Knowing how young Carly was when her talents were recognized, I wondered if her artistic ability runs in the family. "Yes, my Dad was an architect, so as soon as I could hold a pencil, he taught me how to draw. And my Mom taught painting classes. So yes, I was surrounded by art."
Born in Mission Viejo, Carly and her family moved to Fallbrook when she was two years old, and she remained there through high school. After high school, Carly went on to pursue her art career. "I attended the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. I specialized in illustration." After graduation, her talents were quickly recognized, and she worked as an illustrator for numerous magazines. "I illustrated everything from The Wall Street Journal to the Grammy's to Golf magazine." In addition to working at these prestigious organizations, Carly added Children's book illustrations to her resume of artistic accomplishments. "I published a few of those and was doing great career-wise; I enjoyed what I was doing, but my true love was not illustration; it was oil painting" So, as with most things in life, we will gravitate back to what makes us happiest. For Carly, it was a passion. "My true love is painting people and landscapes. I felt a bit burned out doing illustration, so I decided to choose what I most loved."
Carly had moved to Oceanside after graduation, and with the continued support of her family Carly went out on her own. "Taking the leap from illustration for large publications and organizations to going out on my own wasn't that hard because I had the support of my family and friends. Plus, I was young, dumb, and eager, and if you don't know you can't do it, you just do it."
Carly met her husband, Seth, at a young age. No, they weren't high school sweethearts; they met when they were both in third grade. "Our Moms were close friends, so we hung around together." But, of course, they were too young to date, though they did attend a few school events together. When Carly returned home, the two would reconnect, and it was as if they had never been apart. They married soon after their reunion.
Carly's business has blossomed over the years. Soon after, she started doing her own paintings she was showing in galleries and loving every moment of her newfound freedom as an independent artist. However, there was a short pause to Carly's art career when she found out she was pregnant with twin girls, Lana and Laya, who just turned 14. Although she occasionally still painted, she put her painting career on hold for a few years; caring for twins was more than a full-time job. "Once our girls started preschool, I knew I had to return to my easel and spend my days doing what I loved."
Not only is she doing what she loves, but she has an incredible following of clients who are constantly commissioning her to do special portraits of their families, pets, and even relatives who have passed. "Although I prefer painting from life, it is difficult for subjects to sit still for long periods, so I will often work from photographs that are presented to me. For example, it is hard to get family pictures where everyone is smiling and happy simultaneously. So, clients will provide me with their favorite shots of each of them and their children and pets, and I will blend it all into an oil painting that shows each family member with their best smiles." The result of these photos is a masterpiece that will be cherished for generations to come.
Carly's background in illustration allows her to create these oil paintings from scratch. "One commission I recently had was a woman who had given birth, but unfortunately, her Dad died shortly before her daughter was born. She provided me with pictures of her Dad and asked me to create a painting with her Dad holding her newborn daughter. And that was a really neat painting to do. it was a very touching moment when I brought her Dad back to life holding his brand new granddaughter." When Carly presented this painting to the new Mom, I knew there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
"It's definitely much more rewarding than doing illustrations for a magazine. When you do this type of art, you are painting for people. You are touching somebody's life, and they'll have it forever and treasure it forever, unlike all the other magazines that go away after the issue is replaced with another one. When you are painting for people, you know that you are creating memories that will probably hang in their living room for their lifetime and will often become treasured family heirlooms passed on to subsequent generations."
Aside from Carly's gallery showings, portraits, and landscape oil paintings, she also loves participating in art festivals and Plein-air events. I had never heard of Plein-air events, so I asked Carly to explain the concept. "I love to paint Plein-air, which is painting outdoors live. I love being outside. And if I get to go outside and paint whatever the scene is, the desert, the ocean, anything, I thoroughly enjoy it. So, I do two festivals yearly, one in San Clemente and one in Oceanside. These are competitions where you paint for an entire week, and then at the end of the week, all the artists bring in the paintings they have done during that week, and experts in the art field judge their work. The one in Oceanside was at the Oceanside Museum of Art. It was great."
Carly sold out all her paintings, which was not a big surprise after I saw some of the results of her week of Plein-air Painting. A versatile painter, Carly is as happy painting portraits as she is landscapes and even pet portraits. The truth is that she just loves to paint.
This is obvious as one of her most recent endeavors was painting backgrounds for her girls' upcoming Beauty and the Beast performance at the Brooks Theater in Oceanside. "It was so cool; I spent the entire week painting scenery and backgrounds. It reminded me of my time as a children's book illustrator. I was able to be really creative and whimsical, and I enjoyed every moment painting fairytale castles and adorable characters."
It is not a huge surprise that Carly and Seth's twins are just as creative as their mother and grandparents. "They love acting and participate in every theatrical event available. They are so creative. They love to write and partake in many creative areas. They even managed to sew their own Halloween costumes this year. One of my girls actually wrote a screenplay at the age of ten. They both want to write books and be in plays and are both artists." In this issue, look for Lana and Layla's creative writing in our San Diego Woman's Kids Section.
I am always so impressed by people with so much creative talent. Although I went to school for photography and writing, I can't even draw stick figures, so seeing Carly's creations amazed me. Creating a work of art from thin air is such an incredible talent. I know having the ability to create a scene, bring back someone to life that has passed, or combine family members to create the perfect family portrait is just so incredible.
So, I asked Carly to share how someone could travel a similar career path. I knew that talent had to be present, but I wanted to know what she felt made her not only a natural artist but a trained one as well.
"I think it is definitely a combination of art school and having mentors. I went to a fantastic art school, but after school, I took workshops from some of my favorite artists. Those that I've always admired, and it was wonderful. I learned so much from watching their techniques, and the tips I picked up along the way were just priceless.”
When you speak with Carly, it is evident that she is a true artist and thrilled to be doing what she loves. "I really enjoy painting commissions. I love bringing people's ideas to life. I love that I can paint their loved ones and those who have passed—bringing them back to life and seeing people's joy. I am very lucky. Every day I wake up and do what I love. I know I am doing exactly what I was meant to do, and I know I am probably one of few people who can say that."
Purchase or commission an original oil painting from Carly's website or email her at:
Facebook: Art by Carly Castillon https://www.facebook.com/artbycarlycastillon