Making the Cut

Boulder Artist CarolAnn Wachter on Finding Answers in the Abstract

Article by Katherine Owen

Photography by Amanda Proudfit

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Ask artist CarolAnn Wachter about her work, and pretty quickly you may not know if you’re talking about life or the art of collaging. The two carry many of the same lessons: “Balance” isn’t always what you expect. It’s okay to not know where something is going. Make the big decision first and the small ones will fall into place. Sometimes, all you can do is take things apart and put them back together again. Time can completely change your perspective.

Her North Boulder studio is even a collage of sorts, a collection of others’ work and her own – colorful abstract collages and muted ceramics, patterns for clothing and home goods from Colombia’s Wayuu weavers.

“It’s all art, and I want to weave it all together. I’m not this or that, I just make stuff. I’ll think, ‘I have an idea, let me make this and see if anyone wants it.’ But it’s kind of working,” she explains with a laugh.

With a background as an observational oil painter and fashion designer, CarolAnn is now exploring those nuances of depth, light, form, space and color in a new way: Richly hued abstract collages.

“I’m just playing with composition over and over until my instinct says, ‘That’s it,’” she explains. “There is some kind of balance that is created, even if it’s not what you normally think of balance.”

It all starts with color. CarolAnn coats large swaths of paper with colors made from acrylic ink and guache. Then, she starts cutting. From there, it’s a process of adding and subtracting, disassembling and reassembling, and sometimes, simply stepping away.

“That’s what I like about it—not everything has to be completely thought out and known,” she says. “A lot of it gets to be discovered along the way.”

She explains that sometimes the collages come together quickly, but more often, like the practice of painting, it takes patience.

“You can’t force it, sometimes you have to let it hang around for a long time,” she says. “Sometimes you’re too judgmental about yourself. But if you just put the work away, you might love it in a year.

“It’s funny how your perspective changes when you come to things,” she continues. “That’s what’s so awesome about looking at art. You see things differently depending on where you are in life… So it’s good to not be judgmental with yourself and allow things to develop at their own pace.”

She jokes that she is an advocate of sorts for collaging, but reiterates its value in modern life, not just as a medium, but as a practice.

“There are not many things in life that allow you to do that. It allows you to be completely in the unknown, and just be with your instincts. And it’s okay–you don’t need to know. You don’t have to have answers. You will come up with solutions, but right now, you don’t even know the question.”

See CarolAnn’s work at her studio, located at 4593 N. Broadway Boulder, during studio hours from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays or by appointment any other time. Follow along on Instagram at @Carolann_Wachter. 

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