Rough times produce great art

It takes a certain artistic skill to discover the beauty in unexpected places. For illustrator Corinne Felicity Mazzola Pedulla it was acquired at a young age while growing up in Boston. Rummaging through trash cans with her family almost every night for years, she searched for anything of value, and kept an eye out for interesting looking objects that she could take home to use for inspiration in her art. Pedulla, now 28 and about to receive her A.A. in Art at Santa Monica College, still uses her keen sense of vintage aesthetics to enhance her work.

"To this day, I still pick up things on the side of the road and rummage through thrift shops and yard sales," she says. "I use them in still-lifes, in the background of photos and even in my abstract art."

Pedulla's personal life has been filled with experiences that have influenced her artwork. In March 2004, she was a victim of a severe car accident caused by a drunk driver. "My best friend didn't survive the accident, and I almost didn't survive," she explains.

The tragic incident left her with a brain hemorrhage, 36 facial fractures, and 96 stitches on her face. Her severe injuries lead to a fascination with facial expressions, which she began to incorporate in her artwork that same year.

"My art has become very therapeutic," she says. "I feel like when you suffer from any kind of trauma, you spend many years trying to heal from it." For Pedulla, art and trauma have formed a symbiotic relationship.

Another thing facilitating her artistic growth is the quality of her teachers. She feels that the art school she attended in Massachusetts didn't provide enough direction, but found the art professors at SMC to be remarkably helpful. "They were really amazing at developing the skills I already had," she says.

Three teachers influenced Pedulla's art.

"Jeff O'Connell, my drawing 1 teacher, first introduced me to perspective, which most art teachers I had in the past always seemed to skip," she says. "His class helped me to slow down and see what is actually there."

Pedulla's Drawing 2 teacher was Anne Marie Karlsen, who took the class through styles such as surrealism, abstraction, realism, and expressionism. "After having to create all these pieces, I realized it was surrealism and the pop art movements that I was most interested in and they just came natural to me," says Pedulla.

"Then there was Linda Lopez, a very eccentric painting teacher. I learned color theory in more detail in her class and how to really capture the light in a painting."

"I believed I was a good artist before taking these classes, but after taking them and examining my latest work, I can see that my art skills have not only increased, but I gained the ability to push myself further in each piece, all the way until it's complete," Pedulla says.

Currently, she is illustrating and writing a children's book in a Norman Rockwell style. "My goal is to finish that by the New Year," she says. She also applied for a spot in various gallery shows at the Topanga Canyon galleries, but won't know if she is accepted until December.

Aside from illustrating and painting, she plays in the alternative rock band, Sweet Release. "Music is more a hobby for me," she professes. "Art is what I'm trying to do as a career."