Camilla Webster, a world-renowned Florida artist, has a tangible impact on the contemporary art scene. Her work is described as narrative abstraction, defines Palm Beach the same way artists Donald Judd did with Marfa, Texas or David Hockney with Los Angeles. Its colorful and spiritual nature defines the aesthetics of Ms. Webster, a former international journalist who covered the Iraq War, meetings in Davos, and other major events.
Before she became a successful artist, her fees are $5,000 and $50,000 to date, she was a successful journalist and television producer for many years. Eventually, she returns to her family’s home in Florida to take care of her parents, and back into painting, where she takes advantage of the serenity that often encapsulates the Florida terrain.
Unlike many who have taken off work during the pandemic, Ms Webster has become more committed to painting during the lockdown. Her 2020 solo exhibition at the museum, Every Painting Tells a Story, curated by fellow White House artist and artist Bruce Hillander at Coral Springs Museum of Art in South Florida, became famous and propelled her art book, Camilla WebsterCoral Springs Museum of Art. It was the #1 bestseller in Palm Beach, and is now in its third edition, available on Amazon. She was then invited to host inaugural exhibitions at the new City Hall in Palm Beach Gardens and launch Haven, a design experience on the Royal Poinciana Way.
A selection of Mrs. Webster’s work was then selected for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House. The painting received the most attention on the cover of Veranda Magazines Inside the 2021 Kips Bay Palm Beach Show House. She has also exhibited her work annually at Art Basel Miami as well as several art galleries and hotels. She has also been a speaker at Power Talks sessions at Art Palm Beach, and presented TEDTALK – Art In Front Of You, on YouTube.
JustLuxe recently spoke to her about the meanings in her work, her direction, and her use of color for meditation purposes.
JustLuxe: When we ask what your background is, please highlight the aspects of your background – cultural and experiential – that make your work in art unique. Given how you grew up, has your art been informed about certain themes since childhood? If so, how do these memories affect how you see the world now, and how both visions affect your art now.
Mrs. Webster: My art has always learned from my love of land and sea, my sense of art history, my great respect for the power of color, my passion for telling stories and intellectual ideas, and my commitment to my spiritual path – and it is in my sense of commitment to the power of love or healing and beauty in life.
I always say my art is a haven for the soul. To build this experience for the viewer, I use my background in the human condition and have walked the corridors of power after covering the war in Iraq and the Middle East, the Wall Street Crash, the 2000 campaign, hurricane season, Davos and more.
I have seen the darkness of humanity, so I strive very much to share the light.
I grew up in New York in a very exciting creative time in Manhattan at the hands of my English mom and American dad. Warhol often walked with me the same way to Gristedes Grocery. Our house has always been full of writers and editors. My art is certainly inspired by the history of art and the performances that have grown up around it. My mother was an editor and photo editor at Time/Life, working with Gordon Parks and many other great photographers.
JustLuxe: You’ve come a long way in your work as a New York journalist and news producer. What are some creative similarities – static and animated – between the written word, the final interview, and the image drawn?
Mrs. Webster: Today I tell stories with a brush. Whether I’m writing a story, producing a video, or doing a live report – there’s always a mystery to unravel and rearrange. It’s the art of seeing that gets you through it all. In all of these things, I seek to capture the essence of something for the viewer, reader, and listener. In my paintings I spend a lot of time capturing a poetic memory of a landscape. After many years of television production, focusing on nature to tell part of the story, I know what that looks and feels like.
JustLuxe: What motivated you to choose Florida as your home, with the subjects you are photographing now? Also, what would you like to communicate a specific or more general view of the uniquely Floridian sense of place?
Mrs. Webster: I came down to Florida to our family home for Thanksgiving and realized a few days later that this was the right environment for my drawings. Vibrant colors and the amazing natural world are everywhere here.
JustLuxe: Does your work in any way reflect or break down the chiaroscuro (dark/light) of the current problematic times we live in? If so, can you provide some examples?
Mrs. Webster: The dark times we actually live in have inspired me to stress out to create truly beautiful experiences for viewers, bringing more light into the world. The act of drawing is a great meditation for me, too. The movie “Love in the Time of Corona” between two naked people in the forest captures our sense of human vulnerability and the intertwining of feelings that many of us feel as we continue into the unknown. “Change is coming” of birds in the depths of the forest with halos among them indicating the souls of many we’ve lost but also hope as they chirp in a new season. These works were painted in Key Largo during the pandemic, using the landscapes around me to tell a global story.
JustLuxe: After seeing your Ted Talk, you conclude that the feeling of impending loss played a role in your return to painting. could you expand on that?
Mrs. Webster: Drawing Heaven for my Mother has really set me on the path to being an artist in my career. There is a strange beauty in sadness, and it’s just a giant form of love with nowhere to go, I put all that love on canvas to paint after another. These paintings excited art collectors and the art world in a way that whispers of continuity. Now years later, I’m an artist from a museum. I’m glad I listened to the whispers.
JustLuxe Who was your teacher of art? And who or what inspired you to repaint again? And what are the lessons learned from it?
Mrs. WebsterPat Lipsky and Bruce Hellander have been the most influential mentors of my career. I had wanted to paint more seriously for a long time and losing my mother catalyzed that journey into something beautiful. Pat Lipsky and I loved discussing art history and studying color. She is one of the greatest color field painters of our time. Famous collage artist Bruce Hellander’s understanding of the artist’s career and his eye for great work, composition as a collage artist makes it the best eyes and ears I’ve ever needed in Palm Beach.
JustLuxe: In what ways do you cultivate a collector’s base? In other words, how do you plan to become known in more different geographies than you are now? What fairs and exhibitions do you plan to display and sell in 2021-2022?
Mrs. Webster: I have a solo exhibition coming up at the Paul Fisher Gallery at the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach in November. You can expect an exhibition in the BVI, Aspen and the Hamptons in 2022.
JustLuxe : What are the current art world trends, and the artists you follow and are interested in? And why?
Mrs. Webster: I’m exploring the NFT’s world. , or non-fungible symbols. It was my first big artistic acquisition on Instagram, so I always focus on the latest trends in the digital field. I may follow hundreds of artists but I actually keep a part of my environment free of art so I’m not overly influenced by others. Some of the artists I’ve been enjoying following lately are Will Day and CJ Hendry. I also have collaborations under discussion with some luxury brands and design houses.
JustLuxe: It has been said that art can become a vehicle for social change, not merely an end product of consumption. How do you see your work in these two contrasting lights?
Mrs. Webster: I often invite viewers to reconsider their lives and being in action. Thus a work of art becomes a meditation. Headlines like “More Into Yourself” invite you to think about your topic and what you can do. Two panels from this series hang appropriately in the Norges Bank office at Hudson Yards and in the office of the founder of Integrated Health Practice Triangle Health in West Palm Beach.