I met Candice at the San Diego ArtWalk on what seemed to be the single rainy weekend in the whole month of November. Artists were freezing in their booths, so were visitors, most of the artworks had to be wrapped in plastic. I stopped by Candice’s booth hiding from the burst of rain and immediately felt like in a cheerful oasis on this gloomy day.
The amazing blue botanical prints were jumping at me off the walls while Candice herself was talking about her work with great excitement and showing off the big book of 18th-century monochromatic botanical prints that got her inspired in the first place.
I immediately knew I had to learn more about this young artist and her unusual medium. We agreed to meet the very next day at the bay for an interview. But what I didn’t expect is that she was going to demonstrate her entire process to me. What a treat!
I’m excited to share Chandice’s story with you! Here’s what she told me about her work, her inspiration and her life.
Trusting the process of making sun prints
One of my favorite parts about this process is that there is a lot of room for happy mistakes. I went to school for printmaking, and one of my favorite mediums was monotypes. There is a lot of room for the mystery in them too.
And they’re always one of a kind, just the way my sun prints are. Depending on how I leave it in the sun, or when I wash off the chemical, there’s always this mystery because I don’t have control over how it’s going to look. And I think that’s like a big metaphor for life. A lot of times, you want to control your life, but you really can’t. You have to just let it flow.
One of my favorite parts about this process is that there is a lot of room for happy mistakes. I went to school for printmaking, and one of my favorite mediums was monotypes. There is a lot of room for the mystery in them too. And they’re always one of a kind, just the way my sun prints are. Depending on how I leave it in the sun, or when I wash off the chemical, there’s always this mystery because I don’t have control over how it’s going to look. And I think that’s like a big metaphor for life. A lot of times, you want to control your life, but you really can’t. You have to just let it flow.
That’s what I do with my work, I put the parts together and let Mother Nature do the thing. And I’m so connected to nature because I can’t do my sun prints if I don’t have sun.
I can’t just use electric lights, it has to be natural UV. Then I have to use water to wash them off. So, just like what plants need to survive, so do my sun prints.
Connection to Nature
I use plant material like dried leaves, seaweed and flowers. There are so many different things you can do with this process, but with me, it has to be plants. I feel really connected to plants. I grew up in Venezuela on a remote island surrounded by nature and it had a profound effect on me.
My mom is originally from Michigan and my father is from Venezuela. They met in college, graduated in 1985 and moved to Venezuela the same year. Although both me and my sister were born in Michigan because my mom’s father was a doctor there, we as a family lived in Venezuela.
The reason why my parents moved from Caracas to Isla Margarita is that one day my mom was held at a gunpoint in a shoe store with little me on her lap. That was the tipping point and they decided to move. My parents are huge wind surfers, so going to live on an island was almost a natural decision.
I was always barefoot growing up. I’ve always felt that huge connection towards the Earth. And I always knew that I needed to be close to nature no matter what. We would always travel to all these different islands camping and hanging out and always being by the water. A lot of my artwork is definitely inspired by water.
I spent a lot of time in Michigan, I went to art school there.
Then I ended up staying there long after college. I lived on a beautiful lake called Torch lake, it’s just a magical place with the beautiful blue water! I’m a green girl. I love green, it’s my favorite color. But the blue has always spoken to me. So I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my sun prints are monochromatic blue and that I use greenery in them.
How the sun prints came to be
My main medium through all five years of art school was printmaking. As soon as I graduated, I really wanted to learn about plants. So I got a job working at an organic farm and also working under a master gardener in Michigan. Then I really felt the drive to learn how to do flower arrangements and I thought of becoming a florist. So I moved to Florida (which coincided with me breaking up with my then-boyfriend) and I got the job at a florist. I did that for two years. And met my current boyfriend who owns a company that sells handmade bracelets from Bali. He usually goes to various trade shows, just because that’s how he sells bracelets to retail stores.
A couple of years ago, he invited me to the New York trade show where I ended up meeting a lady from South Africa. She told me about the process of cyanotypes.
And at the same time, there was an exhibition at the New York library of Anna Atkins’ botanical studies made with cyanotypes. She was the first person back in the 18th century – and more so, a woman – behind this process. And as soon as I saw it, I felt this big awakening. I cried in the museum overwhelmed by emotions because I just felt so connected to what I saw. I went back to Florida, I quit all my jobs and pursued it fully.
And I think this is how the universe works. Even a bad thing happening, like someone holding you at a gunpoint, can lead to some good things in the long run. My parents ended up loving it on Isla Margarita and me and my sister ended up growing up by the sea surrounded by nature.
From the ocean to the mountains
My boyfriend runs this bracelet company and he had a shipping center in Florida where we lived. But he was looking for a better location to eventually move his shipping center and the options were Atlanta or Salt Lake City. I went to Utah with my friend to visit and I fell in love with it. I always knew I wanted to end it up somewhere in the West. But I wanted it to be the “real West”, something rugged and beautiful like Utah. It’s a place where you can still afford a good life and you’re just surrounded by incredible nature such as Zion and the Wasatch Range and it’s just four hours away from Jackson Hole ski resort. I love snow and skiing and my family is Austrian on my dad’s side. So I feel like mountains are in my blood even though I love the ocean so much.
What it’s like to be an artist
When I decided to be an artist, I knew that the only way I was going to be able to make it happen was through doing art shows around the country. I started out with a very simple booth at the local craft shows and farmers’ markets and then slowly worked my way up to only doing fine art shows.
One of the things I love about what I do and the industry I’m in is the sense of community. I’ve always preached how much community is important to me. I’ve met so many amazing artists in the places I’ve traveled to like Montana, Colorado, California.
Rain or shine, we are there to support each other, we have dinner together, we talk about ways where we can be better. The art community is amazing.
Where to find Candice and her sun prints
Official website candicheart.com
Events and show calendar