Basking in the breathtaking nature around him, Carlos Moseley scours the earth for native stones to incorporate into his masterpieces known as “Rustic River Rock Art.”
Each year, he travels to Arizona, Wyoming and Colorado to showcase his pieces. This March, he’s the featured artist at the Fountain Hills Fine Art & Wine Festival.
“I have been showcasing my artwork at Fountain Hills for several years now and I can’t express how much I enjoy it,” he says. “I have a lot of customers who come back to buy another piece of my art each year.”
In addition to the customers’ loyalty, Moseley has received numerous awards and accolades for his prestigious art compositions, including best of show.
Moseley has created rustic river art for 16 years, since he moved to his ranch in Texas Hill Country. One early morning, Moseley decided to build a face with minerals. A couple weeks later, he had five finished pieces.
“I didn’t know I could create pieces like this. It was a complete surprise that art came so naturally to me,” Moseley says.
After his friends and family responded favorably, Moseley decided to sell his artwork, attending his first show later that month. A former real estate investor, Moseley admits he was a bit nervous and insecure, but he forged on.
Moseley usually spends hours searching and collecting different types of pebbles, organizing them into the broader layout of his artwork. Moseley must find various colors that match and contrast with each other, similar to painting a picture on a canvas. After gathering the stones, he sorts them. If he finds a rock that doesn’t fit quite right within the piece, he sculpts it to make it work. He then prepares a slate or mesquite-wooden background in his studio, sometimes working from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. Depending on the size, an art piece can roughly take about three hours to two weeks to complete.
“Nobody else produces the kind of artwork I do, so it tends to ‘pop’ because people have never witnessed anything like it before,” Moseley says.
When he began designing artwork, Moseley only forged Westernized pieces filled with cowboys, horses and Native Americans representing the old country and the Wild West. However, Moseley now receives a wide variety of requests such as sports, animals and specific settings from customers all over the globe, including in Spain, Great Britain, and Germany.
“Whatever my customers want, I can make it,” Moseley says.
For inspiration, Moseley simply takes a stroll outside and walks toward the river near his house, viewing the gorgeous landscape around him. He enjoys using slate backgrounds, and the bigger the piece, the better.
“I’ll see a particular color or shape of rock and say, ‘Oh, what about that?’ and ‘Boom!’ I get an idea,” Moseley says.
Every year, Moseley spends more time with the rock compositions he creates, adding fresh new elements. He notices customers are joyful when they see his works, which are meticulous. Over time, Moseley realizes when he begins to construct a piece, his artwork starts to morph into something completely different, replacing his initial idea.
“But that’s the beauty of creating art. I start with a picture in my head, but most of the time, that’s not what it’s always going to end up becoming. Something always changes, whether it’s the characters or the layout of the piece,” Moseley says.
Moseley enjoys when his artwork elicits a smile or laugh from a passerby. Others say his pieces resemble or remind them of a loved on. That makes Moseley smile.
“Sometimes serious-looking men will walk near my stand, and when they see my artwork they’ll start laughing, leaving them happy,” Moseley says.
However, he knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support of his wife, Carol, and their family. While Moseley works on developing his art compositions, Carol handles the inventory, business logistics and reservations.
“It’s nice to have someone in something like this with you. That’s probably why we’ve been so successful. I definitely could not have done this field of work by myself. She’s extremely supportive and now we’re a part of this business together,” Moseley says.
When he and Carol return home after showing his art, Moseley is ready to start again. Moseley buckles down into the comfortable space of his studio and immediately gets into work mode, unable to stop until he’s finished completing the piece. Last year, Moseley spent nearly two months in his studio, refusing to travel anywhere. However, Moseley plans on traveling with Carol to Colorado later this year to display his artwork in various fine-art shows for about three months.
“When you love your line of work, it’s never really work,” Moseley says.
Fountain Hills Fine Art & Wine Festival
Avenue of the Fountains, between La Montana and Saguaro Boulevard, Fountain Hills, thunderbirdartists.com, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 6, to Sunday, March 8, $3, free parking.