Artist Carol Rabinovitch
enjoys the creative spark
West-ender talks techniques and experimentation in Q&A
By Irwin Rapoport
January 24, 2024
I reconnected with Carol Rabinovitch last September, during NDG’s Arts & Commerce Weekend at Cafe 92, where she was selling her art – paintings, collages, drawings, and hand-crafted jewelry.
Until then, I was unaware that she was an artist, but was impressed with her work. We spoke about her art, the paintings that I liked and why, what inspires her, and what led her to become an artist.
As we spoke, several people stopped to admire her work. Many purchased an item that jumped out at them. Rabinovitch was pleased to converse with them, an artist at one with her fans. That’s when it occurred to me that Rabinovitch would make an excellent subject for a Westmount Magazine feature.
In the Q&A below, Rabinovitch talks about her art and experiences:
WM: When did you take up art, and why?
Rabinovitch: My inspiration to paint as a hobby began 26 years ago when my children were grown up. I enrolled in my first class with oil paints and learned to mix colours. When I was impatiently waiting for the teacher, I experimented and made mud. The oils had odours which did not agree with me, so I switched to water-based acrylics.
WM: How have you evolved as an artist?
Rabinovitch: It took me a while to stop comparing myself to other artists. After a few years, my unique style evolved, with many friends saying they could identify my art by my colourful and whimsical signature swirls and dots.
WM: Where do some of your ideas come from?
Rabinovitch: It could be from a photo, an image, or even an advertisement. I never copy what I see. Instead, it transforms into something similar or maybe not. In the photograph, The Budapest Dancers, I was inspired by a live performance when my husband and I visited there. The Butterfly Bouquet was inspired by a photo in a magazine, but I used butterflies instead of flowers.
I encourage everyone to try painting by just letting the brush swirl around the paper or canvas. It is not necessary to draw at all. It is very therapeutic to make abstract designs.
WM: How would you describe your painting style and what role do art classes play in your development as an artist?
Rabinovitch: Although I am very relaxed when I paint at home, I still enrol in art classes to learn more techniques. My mentor and friend, the late Myrna Brooks-Bercovitch, encouraged me to take classes with other teachers to expand my curiosity. These included recycled art and mixed media, which I did with Nicole Landy. Suzy Levy taught me the correct way to hold a paintbrush, to prepare my canvas with an undercoat of burnt sienna. This really helps to prevent the white coming through. She guided me in painting bricks and a sunflower.
Shushana Caplan has taught me to mix colours using white and black, and combining two or three colours instead of painting with colours out of the tube. Presently, I am painting with Noa Ne’eman, who guides me, teaching me the effect of shadows and how to make the colours pop.
I am currently taking Experiments in Acrylics with Shushana Caplan, where we place five pieces of masking tape on our canvas and then paint over it and on the entire canvas with only three colours (and black and white). When dry, we add textures and designs. The next week we removed the tape and placed it on other areas, but not where it was originally. The result is like a collage or abstract.
WM: What attracted you to collage?
Rabinovitch: My curiosity for collaging is a fun technique that opened up my imagination. My most recent mixed media (collage and paint) is Marvelous Montreal. I had fun using the logos for the Expos and hockey, the flag of Montreal, and some landmarks, including the famous Schwartz’ smoked meat and bagels. In my stash of ephemera were small penguins, bees and butterflies, which are perched on the top of the canvas.
Another example of collaging is my assortment of letters and numbers cut out from circulars and magazines. I superimposed slide covers which I painted and dotted on. I love painting on black and especially on wood.
WM: Do you recall when your first pieces of art were exhibited and how did it feel to witness others experiencing your work?
Rabinovitch: Over the years I participated in many group exhibits and a few solo exhibits, having sold in the United States and Canada. For many years I sold my artworks in Plattsburgh at the annual PBS Mountain Lake Art Auction. This year, I won the Judge’s Choice Award for Martini in The Object of My Desire online exhibit.
WM: What led you to experiment with beading and designing jewelry?
Rabinovitch: Several years ago, I began beading, creating necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Upon my request for a Jewellery Club, the Cote Saint Luc Library gave us a room one day a month. After one year we needed to change the day, so they generously gave us the room on a weekly basis! It’s now called To Bead or Not to Bead with a core group of four and newcomers all the time. Although there is no teacher, we guide one another. Since then, we had many jewellery sales there, with a percentage of the profits going back to the library.
WM: Art has brought joy and pleasure to your life. What would you say to those thinking about taking up painting and drawing, but feel daunted and worried that they don’t have any talent?
Rabinovitch: I encourage everyone to try painting by just letting the brush swirl around the paper or canvas. It is not necessary to draw at all. It is very therapeutic to make abstract designs.
Irwin Rapoport is a freelance journalist with Bachelor’s degrees in History and Political Science from Concordia University.