By Gina Malone
Molly Courcelle often begins a new painting by sketching contours taken directly from plants and flowers and then allows the piece to build from there. “I usually don’t have a specific plan as to how the painting will look upon completion,” she says. “I find the spontaneity to be exciting and rewarding. I like the idea of taking my own control away from the creative process, allowing the materials themselves to play a part, as well as pure inspiration.”
Art and flowers have brightened her world since she was a child. She studied art at Wake Forest University, focusing on painting and becoming an honors art student while she was there. She then moved to Boston and began working in floral design. “Working in floral design really taught me about the unique beauty in individual flowers,” she says. “I love to explore that in my work—the curve of a stem, the shape of a petal, the subtlety in the colors.”
When she moved to Asheville in 1997, she and her mother, artist Bee Sieburg, opened The Gardener’s Cottage in Historic Biltmore Village and worked together there until 2004, selling the business a month before Courcelle’s first child was born.
In 2008, Courcelle began her painting career, renting space at Wedge Studios, where she has been ever since. She and her mother work in studios next door to one another. “It is such a blessing to still have her as such a large part of my life,” Courcelle says. “My mother’s influence cannot be denied. She truly encouraged my creativity, both growing up and today. She kept plenty of real art supplies available for fun. She was not a fan of craft kits or coloring books. She liked for me to use paint and clay and pastels.”
Faith is also a guiding force in Courcelle’s life and art. “I remember praying at the beginning that the Lord would use my creative efforts to glorify Him, not myself,” she says. “He has really answered this prayer by showing me how artwork can have an impact on people in powerful and uplifting ways.”
Specific verses or passages from the Bible inform each of the pieces she creates. “I find this to be one of the most meaningful parts to completing a piece,” says. Courcelle. “Most paintings are named after they are finished and once I have an opportunity to dig into Scripture and pray about the meaning of the piece. The verses are found in such different ways. Sometimes a feeling will be evoked as I create a painting—such as peace or hope—and a verse will come from those emotions. Other times, the painting may resemble something physical, such as a cloud or a mountain, and I will reference stories from Scripture or metaphors written in a Psalm. It is lovely to see how the artwork and the Bible verses associated with them may impact others, often in ways that are deeper and more meaningful than I had intended.”
She works, for the most part, in oil and oil stick on canvas, and lately has begun incorporating gold leaf into her paintings. “A large part of my time is spent on commissions or commissioned custom paintings and I usually have a waiting list,” she says. “These commissioned pieces are painted specific to the size, color and style—or even a special Bible verse—that the client wants.” She also contributes to Asheville Art in Action, a group of artists selling their work to support local nonprofits.
To see Molly’s work, visit Molly Courcelle Fine Art (Studio 2A on the second floor) at Wedge Studios, 129 Roberts Street, or Woolworth Walk in downtown Asheville. Open hours for her studio are Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and she is also available by appointment. For more information, visit MollyCourcelle.com. Find her on Facebook at MollyCourcelleArt and on Instagram @mollycourcellefineartist.