My love of florals in all forms from artwork, to bouquets of fresh flowers should be legendary by now. It was through this love of florals that I first discovered Oklahoma based artist Carolina Elizabeth. Originally from Honduras, Carolina always knew she wanted to be an artist even before she knew the meaning of the word.
Her inspiration comes from artists throughout history such as Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Anne Valleyer-Coster, and Fantin Latour and her work has been featured in notable magazines including Romantic Homes and Victoria. She sources her florals from a local flower shop and another favorite of hers, Grace Rose Farm.
In this interview we learn about why she’s drawn to the medium of oil, the most rewarding part of being a teacher, and a fun little fact (hint, hint, she shares her favorite Bridgerton character!) and more.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I think it’s always been in me. Even when I didn’t know the meaning of the word “artist” as it pertains to a career, I’ve always understood that making things made me happy and that that’s what I wanted to do forever… create.
You work with a variety of mediums from oils on linen to watercolor, gouache, pencil and Conte pastel. What drew you to the oil medium in particular?
Oil paints allow you to work on a painting and make changes more readily than other painting and even drawing mediums. Due to the nature of the material, they also allow for glazes, which provide a rich, atmospheric quality to the finish work.
Being a history geek, I’m drawn to the historical aspect of oil paints. In fact, most of my artists I’ve admired used oils as their preferred medium.
Who are a few of the artists who have had the greatest influence/source of inspiration?
Oh, we are so lucky to be able to learn from and draw inspiration from so many artists throughout history. Studying the work of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Anne Valleyer-Coster, and Fantin Latour, among many others, has been a large part of my painting education.
You are a self described wanna-be gardener and a beekeeper, what do you enjoy most about being able to share about two of your passions through your artwork?
Every subject I paint is because I find it fascinating in some way and want to capture that moment so that others are able to experience it as well. I can sit and stare at the bees for hours and find their dances, relationships with one another and their ability to thrive so very interesting.
I also love learning. If gardening, beekeeping and making art have anything in common, it is the fact that they provide constant opportunities to learn something new. And the best thing about learning, is sharing that knowledge and appreciation with others in hopes that it sparks joy in them as well.
Are most of the florals featured in your work from your own garden or do you have a favorite flower shop that you source from?
I wish most of the florals were mine. A wanna-be gardener fighting the deer and the rabbits who seem to enjoy more of my garden than I do, leaves me having to find other sources for flowers. There is a fabulous little, florist shop near me called Trochtas, where the florists kindly allow me to go in their cooler and select the flowers myself.
My favorite online florist is Grace Rose Farm. My favorite thing about them is that they send roses, just like the ones I pick from my garden, meaning they are at a variety of stages- from fully open to lovely, little buds. This offers a more natural and interesting composition.
I love how everything you paint brings you and those who view your work a feeling of happiness. Tell me about the piece you are working on right now.
I’m working on two pieces that I am so very excited about, one is a painting that I am selfishly making for me. For the first time, I decided to make a large painting and not plan it out— just paint. I suppose I will just have to see where it takes me.
The other is also a bit larger than what I usually do. A very lovely and generous lady gifted me a panel of Gracie wallpaper to use a background for some paintings, and so that is what I am working on. Usually I don’t get nervous about starting work, but that one is giving me a bit of the butterflies.
You mentioned that you’ve been painting while having Bridgerton playing in the studio. I am a huge fan of the show, so I’d love to know who your favorite character or characters are from the show and how the show inspires you as an artist.
Isn’t it a wonderful show?! It’s beautiful and there is even art talk sprinkled in. How could I not love it?!
Eloise is my favorite because she’s feisty, curious, and dances to the beat of her own drum (I think that’s the saying), but she is also smart and kind.
The fun thing about playing movies/shows while I paint, is that they are different every time I watch them. I try to sit and pay attention long enough to know who is who, but if new characters come into play, or the characters, sometimes I don’t realize it. When I go to watch it again, I’m thinking “that’s not who said that or did that”. It’s like watching a whole new story.
I can’t say how many times I’ve watched Emma (the new version and the Gwyneth one). I’m drawn to the color pallets, the textures in the clothing, and the bits and pieces of props that evoke the time period.
What is one of the most rewarding parts about teaching?
Recently I was at a grocery store and I saw one of my students, who stopped me to say “Mrs. Elizabeth, you were right.” (Fabulous start. Right?!) I said “Really?” He answers “Yeah, at least once a week something we learned in Humanities comes up in conversation.” I’m so lucky to have the opportunity every day to share my love for art and cultures with my students, and that they respond in such a wonderful way. I want what I teach to feel relevant to them so that they gain appreciation for art from all over the world and throughout time, because that is what will make them want to learn more in the future.
In 2018, your work was featured in Romantic Homes and Victoria as well as being featured in the Victoria Magazine book, Our Hearts Are in England in 2019. What was it like seeing your artwork in print?
It is such a dream to be included in such wonderful magazines, which have provided me with years of inspiration for my art, the garden and my home. I’m still pinching myself.
I must add that I am so grateful for all the fabulous collectors throughout the US and in several countries around the world have added my work to their art collections is such an honor. They allow me to keep living this wonderful creative dream.
Keep up with Carolina Elizabeth via her website and on Instagram @carolina.elizabeth.art
All images in this post are via Carolina Elizabeth.