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This article was published in issue number 20 of Stepping Out Magazine, a quarterly Northwest publication about creative endeavors in the arts, business and living.   It was written by William Brown.  Stepping Out magazine is no longer in publication in Portland, Oregon.


Waves Of Color
Carol Thompson's Love of the Sea

    Once upon a time, a young girl in Wisconsin dreamed of becoming a "famous artist".  Today her dreams are coming true, far beyond those childhood expectations.  Carol Thompson, a highly talented and mostly self-taught Northwest painter, has gained a level of recognition and accomplishment few artist attain in a life-time.

     "I grew up in an idealistic dream world.  I can vividly remember the childhood visions of people and animals formed in the clouds.  I recall lying in deep grass and watching sunlight and shadows make patterns on my skin.  I saw brilliant color in everything in nature.  I could make rainbow colors radiate from my lashes through nearly closed eyes as the sun glanced upon my face.  These recollections spring with myriads of others from a deep well of memory to be used when needed in my career as an artist.  I believe that as an adult, I have the strength and ability to cope with everyday pressures, yet retain the soft dimension of being a dreamer.  I plan.  I look to the future.  I have always known I would be an artist."

     Carol Thompson was born in 1941 in Medford, Wisconsin.  While growing up in nearby Rib Lake on a farm, she sketched, entered local art contests, and did artwork for school publications.  It was not until 1971, after moving to the Pacific Northwest with her two sons and husband, that she ventured into watercolor and oil painting.  At this time, Thompson began studying and experimenting with these media and with various subjects, including landscapes, marinescapes, portraits, florals and still-lifes, using realistic, semi-abstract, and impressionistic styles.  While spending several years observing the Northwest beaches, she developed a fascination for the sea.  Early in 1978, all of her efforts became dedicated to this one subject.  The ocean had become a part of her soul. 

Storm Warnings     To reflect on canvas all the sea has to offer requires a dedication few artists are willing to give.  Thompson continually researches her subject area to expand the horizons of her work.  She has become a master of her media, superbly handling classic oil paint, and a master of heer subject, the sea itself, depicting its beauty, strength and moods.

     "The ocean faxcinates me.  I'm in awe of it.  The sea is powerful and terrifying. The sea is also peaceful and relaxing.  I am drawn back to the sea time and time again to abide there, to stand at the edge of the world and watch a golden sun dip slowly into the sea.  These are times when the steady roar of breakers becomes a background melody to ease daily struggles and lift my consciousness above and beyond my own mortality.  The sea is full of life and mystery.  Although at times the ocean seems completely devoid of living creatures, upon closer observation, I can see the outline of a lazy sea lion sunning itself on an offshore rock;  seagulls begin to appear on the horizon or skim the face of a tumbling breaker in search of a fresh meal;  sea otters play their games in and out of kelp beds;  whales spout in the distance;  then an understanding of how much life is in the ocean comes to me.  What will she yield next?  What will she conceal forever?"

Pounding Wave     Carol Thompson's realistic interpretations of the Northwest Coast are the product of her dedication to the sea.  She has a thorough understanding of it and is able to observe and translate the light and shadow, texture, mood and detail of nature onto canvas.  She experiments with color and composition and paints from her mind, where the sea is alive with movement, sounds, smells, and feelings.

     "I paint as realistically as I can, using a variety of strokes and tools, from smooth brushwork in the sky to heavy palette knife on the rocks.  Manipulating light, middle and dark values in the translucent areas, and blending color with a soft brush, gives the effect of light shining through the waves.  I use light against dark, warm against cool, and soft and hard edges to heighten the dramatic effect of waves, rocks, sky and smooth waters.  I work 'alla prima' to achieve the sparkle, intensity and brightness in the translucency of the waves.  I use a glazing technique, borrowed from the old masters, to depict the stillness, depth, and power of the seemingly quiet waters."

     Achieving goals is very important to Carol Thompson and she has already achieved many.  Her artwork and biography have been published in national publications, her collectors are worldwide, and her memberships are prestigious.  He work is represented by galleries and agents in nine states with plans to be represented in all 50 states and several foreign countries in the near future.  Her work is not consigned but is made available through a maketing plan that solves basic logistic problems artists normally encounter.

     Thompson's seascape paintings and limited edition prints are the product of many hours of planning and research.  Each original oil is an individual experience designed and planned prior to execution.  Quality is always emphasized, the investor always considered.  With one limited edition print published, she is now in the process of publishing four new images, to be followed by six additional ones by the end of 1985.

     "I like to look at the future with a cheereful, positive attitude.  I plan to continue painting daily, concentrating in the marine area.  I want to travel extensively, not only painting the oceans of the world, but to study the people of the different lands whose lives are dependent upon the ocean, and incorporate these people into my artwork.  This will meld my love of the sea with deep sensitivity to mankind.  I will continue to pursue the dream that had it's beginning in my childhood;  then bring to as many people as possible, my personal view of the mighty waters, that cover nearly two thirds of this globe.  This will be accomplished in part by continued publication of my major works as limited edition prints.  There is no doubt this story which began 'once upon a time', will have a happy ending.  I'm fortunate among artists -- I paint what I want to paint.

© 2002 Carol Thompson