Teacher and Inspirational Painter:
The Pathway to Artist
Our planet is better, we all know, because as humans we push ourselves to grow and try new things which leads us to create. And all creation is driven by that voice inside us asking “What if I …?”
And if we’re listening, we can hear it from the time we’re young. Some of us even listen to it, follow it and turn it into a business. Artists are that rare breed that have this voice tuned in the loudest and the clearest. Caroline Karp is no exception.
Caroline’s life experience combined with a classical training in the arts has given her the foundation on which she’s built her own creative business. And it’s one that shines brightly.
After interviewing artists over the years I realize that one of their greatest gifts is the ability to listen, not only to the world around them, but to themselves. It’s in listening they find their calling and then leave their legacy.
Caroline’s own art legacy is wrapped in love… love for her sons, love for nature, love for the creative process. Enjoy our exclusive interview!
PAULA I have to say, it’s been a delight to finally spend time interviewing you, Caroline. First off, I recently learned you were classically trained as a painter from an early age. Did that set you up for attending art school?
CAROLINE Absolutely! When I went into art school I already knew many of the technical pieces necessary for creating compositions, mixing paint and being a creator of beautiful artwork. I had so much confidence in what I was doing and was very supported.
I do remember experimenting with acrylic paints in college during one particular class where we went to the coast to paint old boats at a marina. That was also my first experience Plein Aire painting. This experience totally opened my eyes and even my composition and how I looked at the boat changed. Instead of painting from far away, I zoomed in and really noticed the chipping paint peeling off the boat. I think this was when I pivoted from being an oil painter who painted with oils to an expressionist painter painting with acrylics.
PAULA How was life for you growing up? What were some milestones or experiences other than your formal training that contributed to you becoming an artist?
CAROLINE I remember coloring on color pages and going to the very edge of the sheet with color. I remember pressing the crayon really hard to make sure that there was no white left on the paper and adding my own textures with the crayon wax and pigment.
Art class was my favorite time of the day all the way through school starting in Pre K. I can remember all of my art teacher’s names and felt very special in their classes like the one who made beautiful artwork.
I had a great childhood with many happy memories of traveling around the state of Florida, going to the beach and playing outside from early in the morning until the sun went down. I think that this is how I fell in love with nature and wanted to capture it on canvas.
I entered many competitions as a young artist and it would thrill me when I won best of show and other prizes. I had amazing art teachers all through elementary, middle and high school that were very encouraging to my future as an artist, enough so that I was awarded a scholarship to study painting at Florida State University.
PAULA I understand you were a teacher as well. Do you feel your years of teaching prepared you to become a better artist? Do you still teach?
CAROLINE I pivoted after getting my BFA because I was not ready to earn a living wage as an artist. I decided I would earn an MA in Education from the University of Colorado in Denver.
In my twenties while in Colorado I was a teacher and a trainer of teachers at a progressive school that was focused on developmentally appropriate practices. I had the ability to take my small group of students into the mountains to go exploring and to paint. They became my students of nature and art. I had so much freedom and a giant budget to spend on art supplies. We had such a wonderful time learning together.
When I had my own children and moved back to Florida, I stayed home with them to be their teacher which enabled me to still be out in nature and experiencing and capturing the world around me.
I went back to teach and be the early childhood director at a small private school for gifted education when my boys were 9 and 11 and I am still in the classroom.
The campus I work on is by a beautiful lake and we spend much of the day out in nature studying it and capturing its beauty. See a common theme? All of the children that I taught in the past and present influence my work and painting style a great deal.
The children that I taught over those many years fed my inspiration and really allowed my inner child out to play. Often times you can see a childlike quality in my work. This is from working with brilliant uninhibited creative young souls. I found that I was shaping their little souls with art.
I teach adult painting workshops and retreats as well. I’m currently offering a yoga and painting retreat in Costa Rica.
PAULA At a pivotal point in your life, you were called to start up your art again. How does that time in your life impact your work?
CAROLINE Life happened in the middle of the beginning and now.
I still painted throughout all of those years of teaching and then staying at home with my own 2 boys. They are my ultimate masterpieces.
Essentially, I was taken care of, and I had created a world around me that was beautiful and safe.
A little blog about my SONFLOWERS to fill in some blanks.
PAULA You collaborate with other businesses and industries. Can you tell us how you start these collaborations for other artists who might want to do the same?
CAROLINE I am all about making connections with people and also business that can put my artwork in front of as many people as possible. I especially like my paintings in places where people are healing, the paintings tend to uplift spirits and bring a smile and lightheartedness to any moment or situation.
I speak directly to business owners when I see that my artwork is a great fit for their place. Sometimes I interview the business owner to get a taste and feel of what they love and the branding for their business and I will paint an entire series to meet those expectations or desires. I really enjoy working in that fashion, it can be a welcomed challenge.
My tip for other artists is to find a business that aligns with your message of mission as an artist. This way you will have a chance to further your passion and affect so many people who have similar interests.
PAULA When you take commissions, do you have a system or practice you use to gain information about your client or the project before you start the work?
CAROLINE I do have an onboarding process for commission clients which involves an Exploration Call and a Creation Tool which can be found on my website. Clients can sign up for a 30-minute call that we discuss what they have written on their Creation Tool – here I am learning about their intentions of owning a Caroline Karp original painting, including size, shape, color palette, theme and background story.
I work together with clients to craft something that conveys their creative expression. Whether they want to manifest words of intention, create something to commemorate someone special, fill their life with empowering sunflowers, have their pet’s personality captured in a portrait, or anything else their heart desires, I can do it all!
PAULA You also do live events. That sounds so energizing. How do these work and what are your tips for artists wanting to try working live events?
CAROLINE I truly get a rush out of painting live in front of an audience, I guess I’m a performance artist at heart. People love to watch me paint because I paint quickly and expressively.
Often times I do live painting at my own solo shows at galleries, private residences, and special events. My tip for other artists is to be available and willing to set up your easel in any situation and just ask the host if they would like a special treat at their event. I do have a set up that I travel with that makes this very easy. I would compare the packing experience similar to what a Plein Aire artist would pack up.
PAULA I personally love your “sonflowers” and the meaning behind them. What a unique way to market your work while at the same time feel you are making a difference. Can you tell everyone what your “sonflowers” pieces are designed to do for people?
CAROLINE My ultimate wish is that my paintings bring happiness and joy to all who have them in their presence, just like my sunflowers did for my family.
I’m the sunflower girl – the one that creates beauty and speaks of EMPOWERMENT.
When my first son was ready to go off to college, I had the idea to create sonflower paintings–one for him, and one for me. I then started creating sonflower paintings for other moms and college-bound children — the mom kept one, and the child took one off to college.
This concept has been very successful and translated in so many ways. For instance, I had a client purchase a sunflower painting for herself and another for a friend undergoing treatment for breast cancer. These sonflowers have been purchased for other transitions as well – an aging parent transitioning into a cozy and assisted living environment.
For these individuals, the sonflower/sunflower paintings are symbols of empowerment and transition. The parent being empowered to let her child go, and the child being empowered to step forth into a new, unknown adventure. The best friends who grew up together – no matter what age – but are now moving apart. Partners confessing their love for each other – like a promise ring. These cozy little paintings symbolize love, power and change.
Although I paint far more than sunflowers today, I am still the Sunflower Girl, bringing beauty and empowerment into the lives of others.
PAULA It’s been a pleasure interviewing you Caroline. What’s your best advice for artists?
CAROLINE My mantra has always been that the key is that everyone has the talent. The secret is how you use that talent. And it’s all about the process and not the product. That is all well and dandy – but my real advice to artists, especially female artists, is to always see the value in what you do. AND stand in your value!
Women in art and in the world need to work together, now more than ever. Men have dominated the world of “high art” for so long, and it’s time for us women to join together for the good of all of us.