Oil painter Ellen Carlisle has loved art since she was a kid. Drawing ever since she could hold a pencil, she fed her passion and explored different media while she stayed at home raising her three kids. “Calligraphy, drawing, stenciling, painting – I ate it up,” says Carlisle.
Ellen first started experimenting with oils in CPCC’s adult education classes, but she really found her passion through the Braitman Studio. “While my husband and I operated a business for ten years, I took oil painting classes at Braitman Studio to de-stress,” says Carlisle. “What a Godsend! I couldn’t get enough – color mixing, portraits, landscape, bring it!”
In addition to Mint Hill Roasting Company, you’ll also find Carlisle’s work on display with the Guild of Charlotte Artists, the Matthews Artists Guild, and Arthouse-Charlotte. In 2015, Carlisle’s “Autumn in Napa” was Charlotte Fine Art’s first place winner.
Officially retired, Carlisle spends her free time tutoring with the Augustine Literacy Project and recently published her first novel, An Unexpected Turn, a real-life drama set against the background of Word War II parsed from letters between a Dutch oil tanker captain and a South African woman.
Although marketing her novel is time-consuming, Carlisle is still an artist at heart. “I can’t help but make time for the arts–pen and ink drawings for realtors as closing gifts and painting, so much painting!” she says. “Through the coffee shop and guild showings, I hope to constantly improve. Eventually, I’d like to be busy with commissions. I’d love to be handed a photo of a favorite place or person and asked to make a painting that is memorable and important in that person’s life.”
Artist Janice Soucey studied fine art in college, but art was a part of her life long before that. “My father is an artist, so I grew up with art all around me,” says Soucey. “But, when I got busy with kids, work, and life, art was the first thing to go on the back burner. I was still creative,” she adds, “but I wasn’t creating.”
Eventually, Soucey learned to take a step back from her over-scheduled life. Learning to say no and set boundaries allowed her the freedom to create once again. “Soon I was painting just about every day,” says Soucey. “I treat my art like a part-time job, and that helps to hold me accountable.”
A painter by trade, Soucey hesitates to categorize the type of art she creates. “I don’t work with one specific medium,” she says. “Instead I bounce between watercolor, acrylic and oil. If a piece needs to be delicate and soft and I’ll use watercolor. Other times, I want the finished piece to have layers and depth, so I’ll use oil. Oil is my preference, but sometimes I just want to create and don’t want to wait on the extensive dry time oil paint is known for.”
The suggestion to display her work at Mint Hill Roasting Company came from a friend. At first, Soucey was hesitant. “When you put your work out in the world there is an inherent vulnerability, so it was difficult to think about asking someone to display it. Would people really want to look at this stuff?” she asked. “I went by Mint Hill Roasting Company just to look around and fell in love with the cozy atmosphere. I took a chance and spoke with one of the owners – she welcomed the idea and gave me a space. I’m so grateful. It’s such a great place.”
When asked what the future holds for her, Soucey quotes Picasso: “‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’ My goal is to just keep working and when inspiration does come my way – embrace it without overthinking.”
You can find Soucey’s artwork and other creative endeavors at www.thecreativeskillet.com.