Carroll Swayze is no starving artist.
Never has been, ever since she began making money from her work at age 14.
Swayze has exhibited in every major fine arts festival in the United States and her home country of Canada. Her limited edition hand-colored etchings and original acrylic paintings are in public and private collections worldwide and she hangs in more than 40 galleries.
Englewood artist Carroll Swayze
Boca Grande has been particularly kind to Swayze as her whimsical yet striking work has been purchased for more decades here on Gasparilla Island, she said.
The first Carroll Swayze Boca Grande Artist Invitational will help anchor the entertainment side of thee Tarpon Festival Weekend May 17-20 with the aid of 70 of Swayze's talented friends. Here's a look at how this event came together and why Swayze was chosen to be the driving force behind it.
QUESTION: When did you know you could make a living from your artwork?
Carroll Swayze at a glance
Birth date: Nov. 2, 1955
Family: Three sons
Occupation: Full-time artist
Galleries: Paradise Gallery, Boca Grande; Ashland Gallery, Mobile, Ala.;?Autumn's Whims, Anna Maria Island; Florida?Frog's Landing Gallery, Cedar Key; Florida?Fisheads Gallery, Brant Beach, N.J.;?Pea Island Gallery, Pea Island, N.C.;?Frame Gallery, Hood River, Ore.;?Island Style Gallery, Key West;?Island Style Gallery, Sanibel Island;?Koucky Gallery, Pine Island;?Lemon Tree Gallery, Englewood;?Lyons Share Gallery, Fairhope, Ala.?Mermaids Gallery, Little Cayman Island;?Nancy Markoe Gallery, St Pete Beach;?Nomads Gallery, Tallahasee;?Ocean Traders, Lighthouse Point;?Old Opera House Gallery, Sebastion; Rubini Gallery, Benzonia, Mich.;?Suitable For Framing, Richmond, Va.;?The Banana Cabana, West Palm Beach;?Wild Women Gallery, Santa Rosa Beach,
Honors: The Carroll Swayze Art Scholarship was established by the Englewood Rotary Club in 1996 to provide one or two Lemon Bay High School art student scholarships.
Memberships: Boca Grande Art Alliance, Englewood Art Center,?Venice Art Center,? Florida Printmakers Society?charter member, National Association of Independent Artists?Steering Committee, Hermatage Artists Retreat Project,?Englewood, Cape Haze Chamber of Commerce,?Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce
Education: Majored in painting and printmaking at York University in Toronto, Ontario, with extended studies at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota.
Next big project: Carroll Swayze Boca Grande Art Invitational during the Tarpon Festival May 17-20
ANSWER: I've never had a real job. I began oil painting at 8 years old. At 14, I exhibited in my first art festival, the Allentown Outdoor Art Festival in Buffalo, N.Y.. Q: Why did you move from Toronto to Florida in 1977?
A: My parents moved here two weeks after I went away to college. The search for the perfect palm tree brought me south permanently in 1978.?
Q: How many hours do you work each day?
A: I spend about 10 hours a day creating original art in my studio in Florida, a small summer gallery in Brethren, Mich., teaching art to children and adults at the Englewood Art Center, Boca Grande Art Alliance and other art centers around the country as well as organizing about 22 art showings each year. I'm trying to cut that back to about 15.
Q: You work long hours for an artist. Why?
A: It's a job. I'm good at it and I enjoy it. I've always had a tough time keeping up with demand for my work. I can't wait to get into my studio each morning. I can't wait. I love it. I have a lot of gallery obligations so I've got to work.
Q: Why move to Florida since your work was so well received in Toronto?
A: I always wanted to come to the States, to Florida.
Q: What drew you to Ringling College in Sarasota?
A: I graduated from high school three years early. Ringling was just a fledgling college at the time but it was still a good art college. I was supposed to be a lawyer. Didn't want to be a lawyer. I could have been a really good lawyer. I would have been a good lawyer.
Q: How did your parents help shape your talent?
A: My mother was a writer, my father was a theater director surrounded by artists. Mom had a coffee house in the 1960s. Gordon Lightfoot sang us to sleep when we were kids. I was always immersed in art.
Q: What did you need from college since you were already financially viable?
A: I really wanted technical instruction. I knew lots about art history and fine art. I wanted to learn the technical how-to about printmaking, painting and color mixing.
Q: Did you stay with your parents when you moved to Florida?
A: I stayed with my folks when I enrolled in Ringling, which was pretty cool. I was already selling to galleries and already had a style.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: All Swayze (laughs). Kind of stylized, tropical, I'd say. There's a lot of humor. It's whimsical with a lot of drawing skills. I'm a really good painter.
Q: You started out as a painter yet became a printmaker. Why?
A: I couldn't keep up with my sales as a painter. I thought it was viable because I'd still be doing original art and still be able to reproduce it.
Q: Have you ever had a lean streak where your work was not selling?
A: I've had a lot of up and down years but I've stayed the course, never wavered, and thought "Oh, God, I need to get a real job." Being an artist takes discipline. You are running a company.
Q: How has Boca Grande contributed to your success?
A: I have loyal followers in Boca Grande. The island has taken care of me my whole life.
Q: Is that why you agreed to organize the Caroll Swayze Boca Grande Artist Invitational during the Tarpon Festival weekend May 19-20?
A: It's going to be right downtown in Boca Grande on Park and Fourth. We'll have at least 70 artists. It's going to be beautiful. It's not my biggest. I do shows with 400 artists. But this Boca Grande showing will feature one of the biggest collections of marine art around. It's a lot of people, a lot of organization. I've been working hard at it. I have some amazing artwork coming.