After months and months (okay an exaggeration, it was only two months) of searching through photos from our incredibly talented city, the Next Top Artist (whose paintings will decorate the walls of the 2013 Stampede Rotary Dream Home) has been decided by the design crew at Homes by Avi and Gibson Fine Art.
I’d like to introduce you to Caroline Stanley – a young, talented artist who with her trusted side kick (a very cute dog named Sisquo (pronounced sisco, who granted spends most of his time sleeping, but is helpful nonetheless) is currently putting the finishing touches on 30 pieces to hang on the walls for over 100,000 people to see. With four paint brushes in her hand (she can hold as many as six) and a palette of oil paint, she took the time to give me a brief tour of her studio and a sneak peek at the art for our Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Dream Home.
1) What is your educational background?
I always took any and all art classes in school and enjoyed it so much that I took extra classes at an art studio during junior/senior high school. After graduation I went to the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2003 to do a 4 year bachelor of fine arts degree, majoring in painting.
2) What inspired you to become an artist?
I can’t think of one thing in particular that really inspired me to be an artist; it’s just always something I’ve done, enjoyed and been good at. Growing up I had an abundance of smelly markers and crayons, and when I was about 10 or 11 I was obsessed with The Lion King and had a binder full of free-hand drawings I did of all the characters! After high school, I didn’t really know what to do besides art so art school just seemed like the right place to go.
3) Who has been your biggest influencer as an artist?
There have been different teachers and artists at different stages along the way. One teacher I took classes from around age 15-18 helped me understand a few essential things about being an artist; that we are a little unique and see things differently than most (like staring at a glass of water, studying how the light reflects off it) and also that making and showing a work of art to the public or other artists can feel like you’re exposing all your secrets to the world. His influence helped me see that I wasn’t alone in the way I thought and felt. His encouragement helped me believe I had a talent I could do something with.
4) How would you describe your style of painting?
Haha people always ask me this and I don’t really know! Maybe I just don’t want to restrict myself to a labeled box. I like to play so given the chance I feel like my art can take on different styles. But I guess if I had to pin it down for now I’d say something like saturated realism, saturated being that I tend to intensify colours. I love patterns and colours and design so when I’m out and about these are the types of things that catch my eye that I want to capture. While most people would be looking at the big picture of beauty, the mountains and the lake and the sky, I would be fascinated by small details like the colour of bark on a tree or the way the water moves over rocks. (Side note about Caroline’s studio – there is a wall of inspiration that contains close up photos of nature that depict the small details of colour and beauty that is often overlooked)
5) If you could purchase one piece of art to hang in your living room – who would it be by?
Hmm…This is a really hard choice; I really enjoy Jon Hartman’s paintings. The huge cityscapes from a bird’s eye view, I love his use of colour and line and how they have a playful ease to them.
6) How will winning the Next Top Artist change your career?
Winning this competition still seems crazy to me, unreal, even though I’m working on all the paintings for it. It was such a shock to even make it into the top 5, not a change of direction I was expecting so suddenly. Since graduating ACAD in 2007, I’ve been doing a lot of pet portrait commissions (except for the 2 years I spent traveling). This has been my main source of income and what many now know me as; “the girl who paints dogs!”. It’s great to actually be functioning as a fulltime artist and painting a subject that I love (dogs) but there’s been an itch in my fingers for a few years for a way to expand into something else, but with my lively hood depending on sustaining the commissions and some fear about “well what else can I paint? and once I do, what do I do with it?” it’s been hard to seriously branch out into anything else. Winning this has essentially provided a huge switch in the tracks!
Having only 3 months to complete an entire body of work has forced me to put all the dog paintings on hold and focus on painting nature, a subject I’ve been taking close-up pictures of for years. It’s been a nice change of scenery, reminding myself that I’m more than a painter of dogs, and hopefully others will see that too.
The representation at Gibson Fine Art will also be huge, my art hanging in a gallery?! It’s kind of something I wasn’t sure would ever happen! Honestly I didn’t really have an aim or goal in mind for my art. I was just doing what I do, taking things as they come, keeping my eyes open for potential doors and I guess just having faith that something would come when it was meant to. Then this opportunity falls in my lap. Just nuts! So being given this opportunity will definitely change my art career, to what extent I’m not sure (I still have maaannnnyy people waiting for dog portraits!) but it’s given me an outlet for another avenue of my art which I’m very thankful for. Overall I’m excited about the chance to capture nature through paint, having my art seen by thousands of people during the Stampede and after, and just being able to express the beauty of intricate designs, colours and patterns for the viewer to experience. It’s an unbelievable honour.
7) What’s your favourite Stampede memory?
My favourite Stampede memory is going as a little kid: they use to have duck and pig races that were awesome! The ducks would race waddle around the track and then climb up a little ramp and go down a slide into a kiddy pool full of water at the end. And the little pigs would just run like crazy! It was great! Come to think of it, I wonder how they got the ducks to ‘race’?
8) What Stampede Midway food do you love?
Stampede food has got to be mini doughnuts. Corndogs are also delicious!
Want to purchase tickets to win the Rotary Stampede Dream Home or other amazing prizes? Buy advance tickets and get:
- 11 tickets for the Rotary Stampede Dream Home
- 9 tickets for the Kinsmen Wheels
- Entry into Early Bird Prize draws on June 11 (if purchased by May 24!)
- Park admission
- 50% off Calgary Stampede Rodeo or Evening Show Tickets (limited quantities available)
Check out the Great Stampede Lotteries website for information.
Countdown is on to the 2013 Calgary Stampede!