ONLINE ART SHOW: Estelle Carraz-Bernabei (paintings)

In Manayunk again, this time at a coffee shop, I discovered an artist whose energy, motion and color transported me to another world--no, another galaxy. Estelle Carraz-Bernabei's cosmic paintings mix oils and acrylics applied in swirling layers she likens to icing a cake.

Yet despite the other-worldly effect, the pieces are grounded in the elements of Earth (via tactile, textural organic matter such as crushed herbs, botanical powders, pigment dyes and quartz crystals incorporated into the paint) and even Fire: Estelle will sometimes ignite sections of a completed work to achieve a desired effect.

"Painting is a spiritual experience for me," says Estelle. "I meditate, do yoga, play a lot of music. I close my eyes and envision a feeling. Then I start with a base color--usually blue or red. I work one layer at a time, with free-flowing placement yet everything's pre-destined as to where it goes." The process takes about a week per painting.

In contrast to that labor-intensive process, Estelle's photographic art aims to capture a fleeting moment. (Visit Style Maniac next month in June for an online show of Estelle's photographs.)

But no matter the medium, "Positive energy is my focus," says Estelle. "Positive energy goes into my work--and then hopefully back out to the viewer." Perhaps that's why her art, though complex, layered and colorful, exudes a mystical calm.

To view Estelle's works in person, stop by her exhibit
"Water Earth Air Fire" tomorrow night, 5/1/09, from 6 to 7 p.m.
at Balance Gallery 112 S. 20th Street, Philadelphia PA 19103

You can also visit Estelle's own site,,
or email her at

Images courtesy Estelle Carraz-Bernabei

"Use the good china for breakfast."