Caroline Wampole is an artist, teacher, writer, and performer. She was born in New York City and grew up on the East Coast, graduating from New College of Florida in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities. After college she moved to California, and helped form the rock band Big Soul, which had a platinum record in France. She toured Europe throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s as a bass player and singer/songwriter, and ended up moving to Paris in 2002 to focus on visual art. Since then her paintings have appeared in solo and group shows in Paris, Boston, and San Francisco, and she has done a number of commissioned pieces for clients in Europe and the United States.
When she's not painting, Wampole works as a video editor and creative director for Story Eyed Media, the production company she started with her husband and creative partner, Cedric Pilard. She also writes poetry and memoir essays and was a reader at SF Litquake, SF Book Passage, and other venues around the Bay Area, including San Francisco's Stagewerx Theater, where she performed several solo shows based on her memoir writing.
After years of living as an expat in Paris and as a transplant in the San Francisco Bay Area, Wampole recently returned to her roots on the East Coast, where she now paints in an old barn in Western Massachusetts.
You can follow her process on instagram.
ABOUT THE WORK
When I first started painting, I was drawn to painting portraits - probably the most difficult and sometimes least respected art form, depending on the era. But I have always been drawn to faces, to people. Partly I think because I am fascinated by the idea of literally being in someone else's skin. What is it like to discard one's identity and be another person? Growing up I expressed this fascination by drawing cartoons, acting out characters on stage, and doing impressions of everyone around me (I still do that). I found in painting I was usually able fairly easily to capture likenesses of people, similar to how I was able to do impressions. My interest has never been realism so much as it has been finding the truth, or essence, of a person, and capturing that in paint. I wanted to make portraits that felt alive to the viewer - whole and contained worlds of their own, not static reproductions.
After a few years of painting almost exclusively portraits, my painting subjects expanded to include food, words, objects, and American culture - inspired by old Jello recipes, vintage book covers, current events, and TV shows like Mad Men. I saw my portraits becoming part of a larger narrative of color and shapes, as well as a dialogue with and reaction to American society.
Most recently I have taken up abstract painting, which feels like a natural evolution as an artist. After years of practicing line, color, and composition in the context of representational painting, I am now interested in breaking down those elements to their most basic character - and seeing what I can create outside of a known subject matter. The abstract paintings I have made so far have emerged from thrilling, sometimes grueling, hours of trial and error and decision making - like conversations I'm having with the painted surface, to decide where to go and what to do (and mostly - when to stop!).
I work in acrylic and gouache paint, as well as mixed media with acryla gouache, pencil, pen, and oil pastel.