If you love roses, you will love the beautiful paintings of Carolina Elizabeth, a classical artist and antique restorer inspired by pretty things and the desire to have them live forever.
“I believe pretty things have power,” she says. “A small flower can carry deep and meaningful symbolism and can be even powerful enough to bring happiness in times of mourning. People have sacrificed freedom to acquire that which pleases their eye. Pretty things such as gold, precious stones or a even a tulip, have become the cause of wars or bankruptcy of a nation, as in the Dutch tulip mania. There is a lot of power in pretty things and my fascination with them is what keeps me putting brush to canvas.”
Originally from Honduras, Carolina began creating things by hand as a young girl, whether with paper, clay, or pieces of fabrics stitched together. She received a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Central Oklahoma, however, it wasn’t until her mid 30s that she decided to teach herself traditional oil painting. Inspired by old masters such as Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Henri Fantin-Latour, and John Singer Sargent, Carolina’s beautiful artwork has gained a loyal following on Instagram, and she has been featured in Victoria magazine and Romantic Homes. I am delighted to welcome Carolina today for a Q&A!
Q: When did you know that you wanted to be an artist, and how did you develop your style?
A: I’ve always known that I was going to be some sort of artist/creative. Since I was little I took apart things to make a new something or another. While the neighborhood kids my age played with Cabbage Patch kids, I was making clothes for the dolls to sell to them. Sometimes the kitchen table cloth or curtains became part of doll clothes or a new bag, but my parents were always supportive, as they also knew that I was meant to be an artist.
Although, I have a BFA, it wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I decided to teach myself traditional oil painting. However, I would not consider myself self-taught. Now there are so many videos and books available and we have the ability to ask almost any artist online questions about oil painting, it’s like I’ve been taught by multiple artists. I’ve had the privilege of learning contemporary artists online who have been so generous with their advice and from artists long gone like Fantin Latour , Élisabeth Vigée LeBrun, and John Singer Sargen (my absolutely favorites) who have left their paintings for us to learn from.
I’m not sure I’ve developed a style all of my own yet. But if I have, I sure do hope it’s a least a little of each of the artists who have inspired me.
Q: What are your favorite subjects to paint and why?
A: Roses. Definitely roses. All things with a history and those that appear in the garden have always fascinated me. I collect lots of pretties from antique shops and thrift stores, along with fashion books which also become subjects of paintings, especially my Chanel books, which offer fabulous graphics for my more traditional compositions.
Q: What else do you enjoy capturing?
A: I enjoy painting the reflection on silver or brass items, the translucency of glass and the way blue in blue and white porcelain seems to swim around on the surface of cups and pitchers, particularly in flow blue pieces.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Sometimes, inspiration appears in the form of a color combination of a shirt, or picture in a magazine. Sometimes, it comes from the flowers I find at the market or local florist. Most days, I follow Picasso’s advice and wait for inspiration to come as I paint.
Q: Please tell me about your restoration services.
A: My parents own an upholstery shop. I worked with them for 10 years, upholstering and restoring painted antique pieces. This summer, I spent two months apprenticing with an antique restorer, who after 45 years of doing restoration wanted to teach someone so they could take over. I’m still pinching myself, as it’s a dream come true. He taught me how to restore porcelain and paintings along with wood and glass pieces. Recently, I have found my list of restoration customers growing. It’s so rewarding to help clients by bringing their loved objects back to life.
Q: Do you take custom orders for artwork?
A: I found that of all things, commissions give me the most anxiety, which results in artist’s block. Occasionally, I will get a request from a collector and I add it on my to-think-about list. No promises, but if the request becomes a painting, I present it to the collector to see if that is what they had in mind. That way, neither of us feels pressured. I’ve been fortunate, that most collectors have been happy to make the painting theirs.
Q: When you aren’t busy painting, how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: Aside from spending time with my family, I enjoy gardening. I have no gardening skills, just the desire to throw seeds in the garden in the hopes that they will result in blooms for me to paint and to decorate and for my bees to enjoy. I also have chickens that also keep me busy and make me laugh a lot.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I’ve been so thankful to those who collect my work, those throughout the US and those from Europe and Australia who have found one of my little paintings online and decided they wanted it for their art collections. What an incredible honor that is!
Aside from my restoration dreams coming true, my dream to have my work appear in the pages of Romantic Homes and Victoria Magazine have also come true.
Carolina, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your beautiful art. I too am a firm believer in the “power of pretty” and looking at these beautiful pink roses makes me instantly happy! To learn more, please visit www.carolinaelizabeth.com and follow @carolina.elizabeth.art on Instagram for ongoing inspiration.