Woman artist in front of her paintings
Carol Strock Wasson on the gallery side of her studio
Woman artist painting on an easel in her studio with trays of pastels in the foreground
Carol Strock Wasson painting on the working side of her studio

How did you get started and then develop your career?

Carol Strock Wasson PSA, IAPS-MC, Cpp-M, AWA: I never intended to be an artist; after all, as my parents said, “How can you support yourself?” I was happily attending college on my career path of Chemical Engineering when I suddenly became very ill and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. With that twist in the road, my life changed dramatically, and my artistic self took over. I feel fortunate to be still painting after 45 years of the disease.

I started plein air painting back in the ’80s before it was popular. Through years of plein air painting, which I continue to do, many workshops with national instructors, invitational plein air competitions, painting with other painters, and plein air groups, I developed confidence and my own style.

Pastel painting of a cloudy sky over a marshy area
Carol Strock Wasson, “Yellow Sky,” 26 x 36 in., pastel, won Best of Show at 43rd IHA Exhibition 2021

How do you describe success?

True success for me is about being able to accomplish what I set out to do for each painting idea. Capturing the light in such a way that I’ve never done before, achieving a new path into a new way of seeing or going where my artistic spirit has never gone before. Being able to reach that deep satisfaction of a painting done to the best of my ability thus far. The icing on the cake is when I sell or win an award with that painting.

Abstract pastel painting
Carol Strock Wasson, “Dissipating Winter Haze,” 24 x 24 in., pastel, won 1st place at Dakota 1st Quarter international Competition 2021

How do you find inspiration?

There are two main ways I find new ideas to inspire me when I feel in a rut. One of those ways is learning and researching historical artists, whose work has stood up to the test of time, their struggles, and their paintings that are proudly hanging in museums, we still admire them today. I will never forget when I went to a Monet exhibit to see his paintings but also his sketch books on display, seeing his initial inspiration will never be forgotten and inspired me as to the importance of looking at artists of the past.

I have files and files of historical artists and images of their paintings on my computer that I constantly refer to, and I’ve also found artists that I have never heard of before whose work just amazes me. I also use the information I gather to put together PowerPoints for my students. Some of my favorite historical artists are Isaak Levitan’s well composed paintings, Zorn’s etchings, Degas monoprints. We are so lucky to live in a time where paintings, museums and books are all available on the internet, making learning and growing so much easier than before.

Another way I have found inspiration is through observation of the landscape around me while plein air painting. There are countless times I will be painting on location and a trick of light will give me a new idea that I must explore. Some of my best paintings have been a result of seeing something new or different and asking myself “what if.” Nature is constantly refreshing and changing so there is always something new to paint. We must keep our eyes open to see the freshness of the shapes, values, and colors.

Pastel painting of smokestacks on buildings billowing smoke in the far distance
Carol Strock Wasson, “Winter Cloud Maker,” 20 x 30 in., pastel, won 1st place in Contemporary Impressionism PSWC Pastels USA 99 Voices in Pastel 2021

What is the best thing about being an artist?

That feeling of immenseness of life and the universe and how grateful I am to be alive in this place and this age. The joy of trying to paint and express that feeling in a way that others will be able to see and feel what I have felt.

Who do you collect?

I have a few historical Indiana artists that I have managed to collect as well as some national and regional artists, Ken Auster, Carolyn Anderson, Ray Hassard, Dan Woodson, Brian Sindlar are just a few. There are many more artists I still want to collect.

Pastel painting of a green grass and trees with a sunrise on a hazy morning
Carol Strock Wasson, “Hazy Humid Morning,” plein air study, 6 x 12 in., pastel over watercolor — I plein air paint often, usually in the early morning or evening.

To see more of Carol’s work, visit: www.carolstrockwasson.com


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