Caroline Karp Live painting at a show in Tampa

Ask the Artist x 5 : An Enlightened Artist Blog

Ask the Artist x 5 – What would you ask?

I’m painting during my solo show at Bamboozle

Have you ever seen a gorgeous painting and wanted to ask the artist so many questions about her inspiration, her life? I know that I wonder that all the time! That is why I have written Ask the Artist x 5 – enjoy!

Recently while standing in front of a Mary Cassatt in the National Gallery, I was imagining talking to the artist. I imagined the questions I would ask her if I could.

So I decided to write this blog post of 5 questions that I have been asked and that I would want to ask famous female artists from the past.

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of inner stillness.” Eckhart Tolle

Fast Forward: A Fifty Year Retrospective of Artist Caroline Karp

1. What is your background and how did you become an artist?

I have been painting my entire life! I grew up with a paintbrush in my hand, an eyeful of color and fortunate to have a private paint instructor that taught me the classic way to paint, mix colors and make a composition. I was a realistic painter painting nature scenes that were highly praised.

Expressionist painting of water and boats
Expressionist painting of water and boats that shows my unique style of realism, impressionism and expressionism.

As a coed in art school, I was encouraged to use my brain and give meaning to my painting. I decided to work large and in charge, pulling in non-traditional painting materials and techniques. I mean I was painting with black Rustoleum paint to get the darkest black that I could and then rubbing back into the raw canvas. These paintings were notably more abstract, expressionistic and without an object. But still focussing on nature and adding natural phenomenon.

large abstract expressionist painting
One of my large abstract expressionist paintings from my Northwall series.

My boys were my greatest masterpieces, and my fondest memories are the steady hum of instruments playing and my paintbrush creating on canvas. The energy of their playing really shined in my paintings, and I wanted to create a world for them that was beautiful and happy.

When asked I call myself and expressionistic painter who focuses on nature and scenes in the world that people find interesting and beautiful. I have a gigantic inventory to choose from, AND I do like to be inspired by others, so I love commission work.

Picture of Caroline and her 2 sons
A Picture of My Sonflowers and me taken about 15 years ago.


2. It is interesting to see how you work. Do you start with a sketch or drawing first?

No, I don’t. When I have a complicated composition, I paint on the lines first so that I can visualize the piece. This allows me to have control yet also be wonderfully expressive because once the lines are down, I can just let the paint flow.

Click here to find out more about the process of painting Nobility.

I started this technique to keep from being confused while painting a gigantic composition on the street (as a street painter). When I am painting Plein Aire style, I don’t have time to paint the lines first, so I merely paint, and sometimes I even paint intuitively.

Me adding blocks of color on a street painting that will take me 12 hours to complete. I started off by painting the imaginative composition in white

3. How long does it take you to make a painting?

Well, it takes me about 50 years – not really that many.  I answer this way because each painting that I do connects to the very first painting that I ever did and all the teachers and art instructors that influenced me.  I have a connection with my mind’s eye, the brush, and canvas. So actually I paint very quickly, and you would be absolutely fascinated by how fast.

I am able to paint extreme realism and have painted in that style at a different part of my artist career.

artist Caroline Karp painting in her studio.
Painting in my studio surrounded by my paintings.

4. At what point in your life did you know that you would become an artist?

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 remember going to oil painting lessons right after school 3 times a week – I remember the smell of oils and turpentine and my teacher smoking in the room. I am so surprised she didn’t start a fire in there. My teacher would show me how to get a really fine point on the brush, to do fine lines, by sticking it in her mouth and twisting it. Oh my goodness so toxic. But I learned so much from such an expert!

My parents were very encouraging, and I had carte blanche at the retail section of the Brush and Palette Art Studio. Any oil paint, canvas, brush or palette knife that I wanted I just put it on my tab. Those were the days! I always said that when I got famous that I would get someone to wash my brushes. It was very fulfilling, and I won several best of shows in all the contests that I entered.

It was natural that I was awarded an art scholarship to Florida State University. Once again feeling the freedom of supplies and studio space galore! I really was an artist from the beginning.

Young artist Caroline Karp paints a sunflower
I started painting sunflowers when I was 2.

5. Do you make you’re living off selling your artwork?

This is not really a yes or no question for me. Indeed, I can have that happen – so yes.

Life happened in the middle of the beginning and now.

I pivoted after getting my BFA because I was worried about how I would earn a living wage as an artist. I decided I would earn an MA in Education.

I still painted throughout all of those years of teaching and then staying at home with my own 2 boys.

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.

My 2 boys are my ultimate masterpieces.

Back then I wasn’t interested in selling artwork. However, I was interested in how the process of making art affected all the souls around me and me. I was fed from how my artwork brought happiness and joy to all around me. I did not need to earn money from my artwork.

Ultimately, I was taken care of, and I had created a world around me that beautiful and safe.

Artist Caroline Karp with her dog and boys
My boys, Arya and me a few years back at my mountain yoga and painting retreat.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading Ask the Artist x 5. If you know someone who would appreciate learning about an artist like me, please share a link of this blog with them. Also If you feel compelled to ask me something leave a message in the comments. I love to connect!