See the Art of Carla Raads

My name is Carla Raads and I paint exclusively with my hands and fingers.

I started doing so during a dark period in my life where I struggled with post natal depression. I discovered that painting in this way helped me to deal with the storm of anxiety and fear I felt inside and by eliminating the brush from the process helped me to convey all sorts of emotion directly onto the canvas.

I started with deep ocean and overwhelming waves and watched as I unintentionally documented my journey through my work and painted myself out of the deep water and onto dry land. Art became my therapy and I not only healed but also found myself.

Based in the beautiful coastal town of Lytham St Anne’s, Carla Raads is an abstract sea and landscape artist that paints exclusively with her hands.

At 16 she would leave South Africa in search of a new life in the UK. Always drawn to the sea, she and her family settled on the Fylde coast. “I was grateful to live near the sea, the familiarity of the beach made it feel more like home”.

Carla went on to study fine art at Blackpool college, learning about life drawing, paint and sculpture before studying design and interiors at Manchester metropolitan university. Durning that time she would work under the mentorship of the late Phillippe Aird at the Pheonix galleries in Hulme. Her mentor, an abstract artist known for his resin pouring work, was mentored by LS Lowry and he drew inspiration from his work. Phil, as she called him, taught the 19 year old Carla about canvas building, large scale abstracts and paint techniques. “He was so free with his painting. He would let the work come alive by allowing the paint to move organically. The best thing he ever taught me”.

After university Carla left her art and pursued a career in modelling. She worked for 12 years as a full time model before returning to art in 2017. “I hadn’t painted in years! I was pregnant and not modelling. I don’t know why but one day I had an incredible desire to paint, and not with brushes. I remember getting an old canvas and pouring the paint straight onto my hands. I would paint fast and aggressively and only the sea, like I was in it. Just with my hands, imitating the movement and crash of the wave. I am grateful for the time away from art, I have returned a different artist. 

Raads continues to paint seascapes along with skyscapes and landscapes. The work is emotional and some actionable, she draws inspiration from Mother Nature’s moods and relates them to her own, some powerful and bold, some still and isolating. She hopes to draw out the emotional response in the viewer. She works on canvas that she hand stretches, with acrylic, spray paint and varnish. Each piece is signed with her unique hand print on reverse, framed and unframed.