Carolyn had all the necessary connections, education, and determination to pursue her dream career as an illustrator in New York City. However, her aspirations were derailed by a tragic accident. Years later, feeling disconnected from her former life, Carolyn bought a Bible, ultimately finding her true calling in Jesus. When speaking with aspiring artist Jessie, Carolyn emphasizes the importance of seeking the Master Creator in all aspects of life in order to find true happiness.
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Sherri [00:00:10] Have you ever wish you could know what the future held before you got there? What if you were given the gift of knowledge before you even began your journey? Now, I’ve been thinking about that because I made a lot of stupid mistakes when I was younger, and I wish I had someone to say, “Don’t go down that road, but on this one.” I’m Sherri and welcome to From the Eyes of Wisdom, where we are pairing an experienced elder from Crista Senior Living with a passionate Kings High School student ready to launch into the world. While these conversations won’t tell the future exactly, they did reveal a lot we weren’t expecting about how to live life well. Are you ready? I can’t wait for you to hear this. I am so excited to have two beautiful young women in front of me here. Carolyn and Jessie. Right? Both of you are artists. Carolyn has been an artist her whole life. Jessie is a senior in high school, and so we hope to pass on some wisdom from Carolyn and her path of being an artist to you as you are a up and coming artist. So thank you, ladies, for joining us. All right, Carolyn, you have lived an exciting life.
Carolyn [00:01:28] Yes, I have.
Sherri [00:01:30] Yes. Do you feel that? Do you feel like you know what?
Carolyn [00:01:32] I do know.
Sherri [00:01:33] You know that?
Carolyn [00:01:33] God has blessed me I do know.
Sherri [00:01:35] Do you feel young still? You look great.
Carolyn [00:01:37] Sometimes. Okay. But I’m 90 so I have a long past.
Sherri [00:01:44] You look gorgeous.
Carolyn [00:01:45] Well thank you. That’s all the Lord, then.
Sherri [00:01:47] Okay. So you sometimes feel young. Sometimes not so much, right?
Carolyn [00:01:51] Yeah, Because I get tired easily. And I don’t do the things, some of the things that I used to do.
Sherri [00:01:57] Okay.
Carolyn [00:01:58] But it’s fun to reminisce about the things that I did when I was younger.
Sherri [00:02:02] Well, that’s what we’re going to do now. Now, this is some of your art. Yes. On the podcast, you can’t see it. Sorry, guys, but it’s wonderful. Can you show Jessie just a little bit of some of the stuff you did? Is that drawing just freehand? Just drawing.
Carolyn [00:02:15] Yeah.
Jessie [00:02:16] In pencil?
Carolyn [00:02:18] It was done in ink. Almost all the work that I did was done in ink because it was going to be printed. But what I started with when I was three years old, I began drawing because I had an uncle who was an editor of photography on the New York Daily News, and he encouraged me and my sister, both of us were actually did things with art, but from the time we were little, he kind of single this out from all the young nieces and nephews that he had and gave us things all through every Christmas, every birthday with something.
Sherri [00:02:54] Encouraging that gift.
Carolyn [00:02:55] Exactly.
Sherri [00:02:56] And how old were you? Three?
Carolyn [00:02:58] Three. And I could have been a little younger. There was nothing much in the Depression to draw on and one time, my dad tried to cash a check, and he realized that I had been drawing something, getting paper, pencils, Ink was. It was just not much of that. So I would scrounge. I used to draw even in grocery sacks that were then just like we have the paper ones now that are kind of a brownish color.
Sherri [00:03:31] So you had a passion for it when you were young?.
Carolyn [00:03:34] When I was little, yeah.
Sherri [00:03:35] So your uncle sees this and he’s encouraging that passion to create. Do you remember how you when you felt like a I love this, I think I can be an artist. How old were you, do you think?
Jessie [00:03:45] I don’t think I remember.
Sherri [00:03:48] Does it feel like it’s always been there?
Jessie [00:03:49] Yeah.
Sherri [00:03:50] Okay, so in the Depression, you wouldn’t be able to go and get a notebook necessarily? There wasn’t a lot to draw on.
Carolyn [00:03:55] To buy anything with paper to draw on was unusual. It might not have been right in New York City where I was actually born. But after my dad left the job in New York and went into the northern New Jersey, there just weren’t stores that had arts supplies. Now there are all over the country, but then there wasn’t.
Sherri [00:04:19] Do you remember the first thing you drew?
Carolyn [00:04:20] Well, we drew paper dolls, my sister and I. We didn’t have a lot of money and it was fun. We could draw someone. And the people that we were drawing a lot of was Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose from Great Britain. Because living on the East Coast, we got a lot of news from Great Britain. But you have to as an artist, too, you see things differently. People used to say, well, you’re so observant. Well, you need to be, because that’s where the images that you’re putting in your head that you can sometimes put down on paper.
Sherri [00:04:56] Do you feel like you see things differently now?
Jessie [00:04:58] Like when I’m creating art, Yeah. When I’m like, working with my whatever I’m working on. Yeah, I feel that.
Sherri [00:05:05] What do you like to work with the most? Like when you’re creating?
Jessie [00:05:11] I really like just paper and pencil, you know? It’s just easier. Yeah, but I’ve been trying to work more with acrylic and canvas.
Sherri [00:05:21] Okay. How’s that going?
Jessie [00:05:23] It’s fun. I really like it.
Sherri [00:05:25] So is art your goal? That’s what you want to do. You want to work in art? Do you know in what capacity? I want to be a digital artist. I want to be…
Jessie [00:05:34] That’s something that I’m trying to still trying to figure out. I really like digital too, so I hope to just go to college and major in art and figure stuff out.
Sherri [00:05:44] Figure stuff out as you try things?
Jessie [00:05:45] Yeah.
Sherri [00:05:46] Now, Caroline, I’d love for you to talk a little bit about you have this this passion for art. As a child, your uncle is encouraging it. And then when did we have an accident with your hand.
Carolyn [00:05:59] That was in college two weeks before I graduated. I had taken classes that I didn’t need to take because they had all of the points that I needed to graduate. So I thought, Well, I’ll take a class in jewelry making. That would be kind of fun. Well, I made a bracelet out of silver and the teacher walked away and was gone. And I thought, Well, this is ridiculous to stay around. I have no idea when she’s coming back. School’s getting over. So everybody’s kind of lax and lackadaisical doing what they have to do to graduate. Well, I decided I’d polish it, so I did not mounted on a board as I knew I was supposed to do, and my hand had a terrible accident. And it was actually ruined. Well, it was a terrible. It was a tragedy. I couldn’t even understand. I was still thinking young. I was not a very sophisticated 21 year old. And I thought, my life is over. I will not get my job. I can’t do anything.
Sherri [00:07:07] I was going to ask, how did that impact how you see yourself? Because I’m guessing if you love art at three and that’s your passion, then all the way up to 21. That’s it. It’s art. Like I love radio, I love audio. So that was my thing. I didn’t have any other thing. So it’s the equivalent to me of if someone if at 21 and I know I’m going to get. That’s exactly right. I know I’m going to get this job with Oprah and I follow Oprah and then I lose my voice. Oh, no. Exactly. So it impacts you’re just yourself.
Carolyn [00:07:40] This thing that doctor at Syracuse University at the hospital said was, “I hope you’re not a pianist.” And I said, “Well, I used to play the piano.”
Sherri [00:07:50] Yeah.
Carolyn [00:07:51] But it wasn’t that.
Sherri [00:07:52] It was the art.
Carolyn [00:07:53] It was the art. And to tell my parents over the phone that I’d had this massive accident, I did not graduate with my class at that time. I waited until much later because I wanted to graduate with them. I was supposed to graduate in January, and so I waited until June when I had finally had some surgery. In fact, the man that operated was the very first hand specialist in the United States. He was very famous. My mother saw an article in the Saturday Evening Post that he was taking patients in New York. So he lived just a few minutes outside of New York. So we went in and he picked up my hand and which was about like that, and said, “I can fix that.”
Sherri [00:08:43] See, the reason why I love things like that and I’d love for you, Jessie, to just consider this through life is that God has little appointments. He’s always, He’s kind and He’s watching, right?
Carolyn [00:08:54] Remember, I wasn’t a Christian.
Sherri [00:08:56] I know, but He…
Carolyn [00:08:58] I was not a believer.
Sherri [00:08:58] But He still knows and He’s watching you.
Carolyn [00:09:00] I know but still. I didn’t realize it, so I was truly miserable.
Sherri [00:09:05] So you’re not a believer? No, you’re not a believer. So tell me. So at that point, are you? You get at some point you get married.
Carolyn [00:09:12] Neither were my parents and neither was my husband to be. So, my husband that I’d met at Syracuse and dated him but wasn’t terribly serious. Somehow his parents lived close to where my parents were. So here I am walking wounded and we started dating again. Then he went into the army and was gone for 19 months. But we corresponded. I guess in those days it wasn’t too awkward. We were engaged through the mail. We moved from the New York City area, to Oregon, to Giannone, Oregon, and little town with wooden sidewalks.
Sherri [00:09:55] You’re still suffering from your hand and…Trauma is a good word.
Carolyn [00:10:01] It was still hurting. I’d often be caught just holding my hand in.
Sherri [00:10:07] So much pain. Yeah. What do you like to kind of say? Just like, what if, God forbid, tomorrow you can’t do art?
Jessie [00:10:14] It’s just. Oh, wow. Yeah. It’s horrible
Sherri [00:10:17] Well, yeah, that. That’s where she’s at, right? And now you can’t do art. And now you’re moved all the way from your family, right? Everything that you knew.
Carolyn [00:10:27] I didn’t know a soul in the west coast.
Sherri [00:10:29] Tell us what your life was like out there. Because you’re not. You can’t do art, right? Am I right? You’re not drawing yet?
Carolyn [00:10:34] No. But they did need an art teacher in that little school we were transferred to Neah Bay.
Sherri [00:10:39] I don’t know what that is.
Carolyn [00:10:40] Neah Bay is the farthest west that you can go on the Olympic Peninsula.
Sherri [00:10:44] Yeah. Tell me what your mindset is there?
Carolyn [00:10:46] In between I did teach at Oregon State University.
Sherri [00:10:49] Oh, okay.
Carolyn [00:10:49] Oil painting, which was nice too, and had another little job while Eric was getting his master’s degree.
Sherri [00:10:55] Okay, so let me ask this. Would you ever consider maybe it’s teaching or is that something you could have a passion for? Or do you think I’d rather just do the art thing?
Jessie [00:11:03] I would love to teach, too.
Sherri [00:11:04] Yeah, teach art?
Jessie [00:11:05] Yeah.
Carolyn [00:11:07] Well, that is that’s a blessing for you, then, because to do that and pass it on and I had one student who went on to be really not famous and rich, but he went on to work for Walt Disney and he loved it and would write to me every year and call me Teach. I was able to go and talk to his parents to get them to keep him from staying on the farm in Vernonia, Oregon, and let him go to Chouinard, which was in L.A. And I don’t know whether Chouinard is still there, but it was a wonderful art school and probably the best one on the west coast at that time. You never know who going to help you or who you will help. And it’s it is a blessing to be able to do that.
Sherri [00:11:53] I love that. So let’s talk about your spiritual journey. So from from New York to this one city in Oregon and all the way far as west you can get. Still not a believer. How do you intersect with God? What did He set up to get your attention?
Carolyn [00:12:07] Well, I had two children.
Sherri [00:12:09] Okay?
Carolyn [00:12:10] Both born while we were in, uh, out in the Wild West.
Sherri [00:12:15] Okay.
Carolyn [00:12:15] And so I thought, well, there is a little church in Clallam Bay, so I’ll take the kids there and they can go to Sunday school because I had gone to Sunday school as a child.
Sherri [00:12:27] Okay.
Carolyn [00:12:28] Obviously it didn’t do much good. So I started taking them. Without fail, the woman that was the pastor’s wife would come out and I was sitting reading a Time magazine, and I’d taken garbage to the dump because we didn’t have any garbage service at Sail River Camp in Neah Bay. So I would say, “Oh, no, thank you.”
Sherri [00:12:52] When the pastor’s wife would come?
Carolyn [00:12:54] Oh yeah. It’d come out every Saturday, Sunday and say, “Would you like to come inside?” And I would say, “No thanks.” Well one day a woman came to our door and she said, “There’s a new Bible study at this little church, and I know your children go there. I’d like to have you come with me.” And I said, “I’m not interested in that.”
Sherri [00:13:14] No, thank you.
Carolyn [00:13:14] So she came again about a week later, and I thought, This is odd. And I said, “No, thank you.” Probably forcefully.
Sherri [00:13:24] Yeah.
Carolyn [00:13:24] And again, probably thinking things that I shouldn’t. And she came the third time and I thought, Wait a minute. Her husband is my husband’s boss, and I had this feeling that he might lose his job and our marriage was just teetering anyway because I was miserable. It was awful. So I thought, yes, I better go. So then I started looking in her house for a Bible, and I said, “Well, every home in America has a Bible.” Well, we didn’t. So I drove almost 82 miles over this winding road to Port Angeles to it. Fortunately, they had a Bible bookstore, and I went in just in practically in tears and said, “Oh, my God, I have to have a Bible.” I said, “I don’t want to pay very much for it because they’re not going to use it that often. It was to save my husband’s job.”
Sherri [00:14:20] Right.
Carolyn [00:14:20] And I’m sure this woman behind the counter went, “Oooo well”.
Sherri [00:14:25] We’ve got a hot one here.
Carolyn [00:14:28] So she said, “Well, how much do you want to pay?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know, maybe just a medium priced Bible I don’t know what their cost.” She said to me, “Would $8,99 be acceptable?” And I said, “Well, maybe.” I guess thinking about it and she said, “Which version do you want?”
Sherri [00:14:50] Hmm.
Carolyn [00:14:50] And I thought, There’s more than one version?
Sherri [00:14:56] What version did you get the King James?
Carolyn [00:14:58] Well I asked her which one was more acceptable.
Sherri [00:15:00] Okay.
Carolyn [00:15:01] She said the King James.
Sherri [00:15:02] Right.
Carolyn [00:15:03] So I now have that Bible and when I give my testimony, it’s held together with electricians.
Sherri [00:15:09] You still have it?
Carolyn [00:15:10] Oh, yeah I couldn’t let it go.
Sherri [00:15:11] Oh, my goodness. I love that.
Carolyn [00:15:13] Because I met the Lord while we were studying the Gospel of John. It was such a shock to find that there was somebody who knew what I was going through and loved me and cared about me. I was really on the brink of just going out into the streets. It was a hard time.
Sherri [00:15:36] How did your life start changing you? You come to the Lord…What are the changes you started seeing?
Carolyn [00:15:42] I was on fire. I started singing.
Sherri [00:15:44] Really?
Carolyn [00:15:45] And had a beautiful voice. I’ve had some surgeries so I can’t sing the way I used to. But I’d stand in the kitchen and I watch these eagles out in the trees. And I thought, That’s God’s creation out there. You would never even looked at what things were going on outside of the air and the ships going by in the Straits of Juan de Fuca were beautiful and I got to meet some of the people from the church and join this Bible study that I wasn’t going to go to unless I had to and it was a big change.
V/O [00:16:22] From the Eyes of Wisdom is brought to you by Crista Senior Living and Kings schools where multi-generational living is truly valued. Crista Senior Living is situated on a beautiful campus alongside the King’s preschool through 12th grade school, allowing multi-generational living filled with meaning and purpose. Those who call these communities home can enjoy not only the benefits of diverse interactions, but they can live somewhere that actually embodies a sense of community, dynamic, diverse and full of life. To find out more about Crista Senior Living or Kings schools, visit Crista.org.
Sherri [00:17:03] So, Jessie, tell me a little bit about your spiritual journey or your relationship with the Lord. Just a little bit.
Jessie [00:17:08] Okay. Well, I came into King’s and sixth grade. At that time, none of my parents or family members were Christians, So it was very new to me having Bible class like Christian teachers and friends.
Sherri [00:17:23] So how do you get to a Christian school if none of your family is Christian?
Jessie [00:17:28] So my parents friends. So that’s how I came here.
Sherri [00:17:34] Okay.
Jessie [00:17:34] But, you know, it is very new to me. I was like, Oh, this is interesting. And, you know, like, now I’ve been kings for seven years. Seven, eight years. And I think my relationship with God just kind of, like, slowly just grew over time.
Sherri [00:17:51] All right. So, Carolyn, let’s go to how do you start creating again?
Carolyn [00:17:57] Okay. Well, I was teaching in the high school, and the grade school in that little town was very little and didn’t enjoy it too much because there was the free period for all the other teachers. So they really didn’t care what resources I had or what equipment I had. So I was a little unhappy and I got involved in some politics and I met one of the people that was very instrumental in getting Governor Evans to run for governor, and he had built a new little building in Longview, Washington. And he said, “I know that you have done some interesting things.” I’m sure I did a few little drawings. I don’t really recall what it was or haven’t kept any of it. But he said, “I have a balcony and I’m going to give it to you free. Why don’t you come and start your own business?” And I thought, well, maybe this is a chance to do it. This is what I trained for at Syracuse and thought, Well, maybe I can do it. Because as an illustrator, I was going to be doing ads for stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. And I thought, well, maybe I can really get a job. And he promoted me so much that people started coming. And one of the first things that I started doing was working with the YMCA.
Sherri [00:19:24] People listening to a podcast, I want them to know we’re looking at some of your original art from the YMCA, which is absolutely amazing.
Carolyn [00:19:33] Well, they hired me to do some drawings and working with the Department of Education for the Nation. This woman was in Longview, Washington and so I was illustrating her books that she was writing on how to include people with disabilities and mainstream them. It was called mainstreaming back then.
Sherri [00:19:53] Okay.
Carolyn [00:19:54] And so we became really good friends. And I think she came to know the Lord. Hopefully because I was so still on fire for the Lord. And I always said, “He’s the one that did everything.”
Sherri [00:20:10] Let’s talk about…Have this little studio now, right? And you’re drawing for people. How do you begin to do it? Because when I was reading your story, I had no idea. Are you in the girl scouts? Have you done Girl Scouts, Jessie?
Jessie [00:20:24] No.
Sherri [00:20:24] Okay. I didn’t know Girl Scouts had a calendar.
Carolyn [00:20:27] They didn’t.
Sherri [00:20:28] They didn’t?
Carolyn [00:20:28] Well, actually, they had 8 million printed in mid in Nevada someplace.
Sherri [00:20:35] Okay.
Carolyn [00:20:35] By a printer and they were all generic colored pictures of scenery around the country. They had nothing to do with Girl Scouts except that at the bottom of it it said that is was a Girl Scout calendar
Sherri [00:20:48] There weren’t any pictures of girls or anything? It was just random things.
Carolyn [00:20:52] One of the men I started working with was the publisher of the newspaper in Longview, Washington. Here again, the Lords opening a door, and he said, “I have an idea because my daughter is a Girl Scout and this calendar is ridiculous.” He said, “Why don’t you do something? You can do a calendar and we’ll make it just for our council here.” Which was the Pacific Peaks. And I said, “Well, I’d have to have some pictures of people.” So they gave me a lot of them were Polaroids, which are a little hard to see people’s faces. But we did have a prospectus for the Pacific Peace Council in Olympia that day and they loved it. And so they didn’t buy the calendars from the Girl Scouts.
Sherri [00:21:42] Oh, they took your calendar.
Carolyn [00:21:43] They took our calendar and sold it. Well, then other people began to see it, and pretty soon we had Girl Scout councils from all up and down the coast Pacific Coast saying, Hey, come down. So the publisher and I would go down and talk to people and while they were talking business, I was drawing them from their faces of the people that manage that council.
Sherri [00:22:08] Now, now, let me ask you this, because, Jessie, in your interview I read you said one of the things you would like some guidance or wisdom about overall is how not to get distracted. Am I right? Can you give me a little more about like that question?
Jessie [00:22:25] So, like, I guess it’s just not getting distracted. So like, I do sports and I’m a high school student so finals and just over all there’s a lot of distractions. And sometimes I just tell myself, okay, just because I go home, you don’t have any homework today, like make art. Sometimes I’ll get distracted, you know, I’ll chat with my sisters. So, like, how do you, like, kind of, like, push yourself to keep creating art on your free time?
Carolyn [00:22:56] I was older, of course, with my girls were in college by the time I got to doing the Girl Scout calendar. So I started with these calendars in ’73.
Sherri [00:23:08] Let’s say you’re not making anything for anybody. Would you just kind of create would you just kind of draw sometimes, because I think that’s what you’re talking about too, right? Like, do you just create?
Jessie [00:23:19] Do you think, like having deadlines are…?
Sherri [00:23:22] Helps?
Jessie [00:23:22] Yeah.
Carolyn [00:23:23] Yes. But it’s also scary. Because you can make mistakes, although I don’t think it’s is quite as hard when you’re doing them for publishing. If you do mess up something, you can white it out. When you’re doing an original pen and ink drawing, which I did house portraits I called them, which are hanging, and some of them in the lobby down at Crestwood Park right now. Those you couldn’t make a mistake because there’s no way to white it out without people knowing that you’ve done something wrong. And I was dipping the pens into India ink and bringing them on to a page. So the fear always was what you would drop in a drop of ink.
Sherri [00:24:06] IMy hand would have been shaking. Oh my gosh, I would have just been I’d have been on edge.
Carolyn [00:24:14] It was a gift. It was a gift from God. I knew that.
Sherri [00:24:17] Looks like a gift.
Carolyn [00:24:18] And I knew that He was helping me do it because otherwise. In today’s world, when you’re working on a computer, I think you can…It’s forgiving. These were not. They really had to be done pretty doggone well.
Sherri [00:24:33] All right. I’m going to give this. Give you this. Take that, Jessie, and I’m handing her an index card. Handing her a pen. Okay. If you have one piece of advice, she’s going to take that index card to college. She’ll be 45 years old and look like I remember what Carolyn said to me. Well, what would that one be for her life?
Carolyn [00:24:53] Always give the Lord the first part of doing any project. Tell Him that you want His help in doing it. Because He’s the most. He’s the master creator who created the world and all of these incredible things that we see. And He has that power to help you if you ask. And then when you do work for people, be sure that you try to cooperate. Everybody that I ever worked with, especially well after I was a believer in being paid for things, I wanted them to know that I would do anything to try to get what was in their head that they envisioned that they wanted to put out to the public about their businesses or their whatever it was they were trying to sell to the public, that I would do my best to bring that from them. As a result, I became friends with some and I know some of them became Christians. So your life can have a huge impact on so many people, and so you’ll have joy as you get older. And no regrets.
Sherri [00:26:02] No regrets.
Carolyn [00:26:04] And it’s just a wonderful way to live. I wouldn’t go back and live the way the first 30 years of my life were for anything. Even though He was there all the time. But I mean, I used His name in vain. I was a nasty sinner. And to be forgiven for those and to be given a gift, to do something that I love to do and couldn’t do on my own was incredible. I love to give Him that honor and glory. He loves you. I can tell you how much He loves you. And I can tell you love Him, too. People sometimes said to me, We can see Jesus in you. And I do see Jesus in you.
Jessie [00:26:50] Oh.
Sherri [00:26:52] Carolyn, thank you.
Carolyn [00:26:55] And I see Jesus in you, too.
Sherri [00:26:59] I honor your life. I honor a life well lived. I love to see people who have lived a full life with Christ. Up’s, downs, left, right. You’ve experienced the fullness of His faithfulness.
Carolyn [00:27:14] Truly, I have.
Sherri [00:27:16] We got to wrap up, guys. Thank you so much. I want you to write. He’s the master creator, you said.
Jessie [00:27:21] I did I got that down.
Sherri [00:27:24] I’m going to write it down for you myself. I love that. Everyone, thank you for joining us. Carolyn. Thank you, Jessie. Thank you. And we will see you next time on the next episode. This has been really, really good stuff. We hope you enjoyed the conversation and that you will join us next time. But before you go, I want to remind you this is being brought to you by Crista Senior Living and Kings schools. And you can find out more about these ministries at Crista.org. Please take a moment to leave us review. By the way, we’d love to hear from you. And our final challenge to you is this. Look around you and find the eyes of wisdom in your own life. We’ll see you next time.