Caroline Stroud earned a BBA in Marketing with a Studio Art Minor from the University of Georgia in 2018. She assumed art would always be a side job. However, just a few months after graduation, she was painting a mural for the Atlanta Braves and received a commission from Dansby Swanson, shortstop for the Atlanta Braves. Now, she has her own studio in Atlanta and her passion is her full-time career.
Throughout it all, Stroud notes, “Looking back, none of this could have ever happened without God orchestrating all of it behind the scenes. His faithfulness in my life amazes me. I will continue to put my head down and work hard while trusting in Him to provide.”
We wanted to touch base with Caroline to learn more about her burgeoning art career and her unique “live” event paintings in which she produces a piece of art during weddings and events.
When did you first start painting?
I have had a love for drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. That love really grew during my senior year AP art class with Mrs. Nancy Butler. She was so gracious about letting students come in and out of her class to finish projects. That year I really fell in love with creating because we had so much liberty to choose our subject matter.
What are your favorite subjects to paint and why?
I love painting people. I think it is such a fun challenge to get every line and curve of a person’s face just right. I sometimes find myself zoning out when someone is talking. I start thinking about the different lines on their face and the angle at which the corner of their mouth goes up. Or I look at the shape of their eyebrow and how I could translate that onto paper. (I need to work on my listening skills!)
Did you know that art was something you would pursue as a career?
I was recently looking back on a journal that I kept my senior year of college. There were so many entries in which I would write about how uncertain I was of what life after college would hold, and how I had no idea what career path I should take. I always painted as a side job in college, but pursuing art full time was more of a fantasy than a realistic goal at the time.
After graduating from UGA, I accepted a corporate job in Atlanta. I did not seriously consider pursuing art full time until I started booking wedding paintings months in advance. Once I had enough wedding paintings booked out and saved up a little bit of money, I decided to take the leap and rent a studio to paint at during the week in addition to the wedding paintings on the weekend.
How did you start “live” painting at weddings?
A few artists that I looked up to and followed on Instagram had started doing “live” wedding paintings. Basically, the artist would arrive to the event venue about two hours prior to the ceremony and paint in the background, then paint a scene from the wedding (such as the first dance), and then finish it up by the end of the night. It added a fun, interactive element for the guests and was also a special keepsake for the bride and groom to remember their day. This concept was so amazing to me. I knew I was a relatively fast painter, so I wanted to try.
When my cousin Mary Claire Stroud (FPD Class of 2012) got married in 2017, I offered to do a live painting at her wedding reception. I fell in love with live wedding paintings that night. I knew that I wanted to continue doing them, even if it was not going to be my full time job.
I promoted that one wedding painting for about 10 months until I booked a second wedding. The first few weddings were all family friends trying to help me out. I am forever grateful for those people that believed in me in the beginning when I was definitely “faking it until I made it.” Now, wedding paintings comprise the majority of my business. I have about 30 weddings booked for this year. I am so excited and grateful that this is something I get to do every weekend!
How did the commission with the Braves come about?
In April of last year, I did a live painting at the Biltmore Ballrooms in Atlanta and had the opportunity to meet and chat with the day-of wedding coordinator, Taylor. She and I quickly became friends after realizing we were both UGA alum and had mutual friends.
Fast forward about 8 months and in December of 2019, I received an email from Taylor saying that she was on the Braves Events Team. The Braves were looking for interactive art and entertainment for the Chop Fest Gala. Taylor threw my name into the mix after seeing me live paint a few months prior. She had also seen the Rose Bowl and Super Bowl paintings I had previously done for Sony Michel. She thought I would be a perfect fit. I had sports painting experience as well as live painting experience.
How did FPD’s art program inspire you as an artist?
FPD and its art program inspired me in so many ways.
First, I gained a greater appreciation for art history. Different artists and their different techniques inspired each of our art projects. I realized there are so many ways to express yourself by gaining a better understanding of each artist. There is really no right or wrong when it comes to creating.
Second, FPD’s art program set the perfect example of how to give back with your talents. The Empty Bowls project is just one of the many ways in which we learned to give back through art. It showed me how easy it is to give back through art. I love donating pieces to charities and galas.
Finally, the support that I received at FPD was instrumental in me taking the leap to pursue art full time. I joke about it, but I still remember that Mr. Kitchell was my first customer. He paid $5 for a 3 ft. tall paper mache chapstick bottle that I made in art class. A couple of other teachers purchased some pieces I had made as well. While at the time I did not think much of it, it really made me believe more in myself. I realized there were people out there who actually wanted to invest in something that I made. It really planted a seed of confidence in me.
I do not think I would be doing what I am doing today were it not for the family-like support from the faculty and staff at FPD.