Carolyn Seabolt creates 1800's style tinsel paintings in Cat Tracks Studio in Westminster. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times)
A selection of Carroll County artists will open their studio doors to the public this December as part of the 11th annual Studio Arts Tour. To help commemorate the event, now entering its second decade, the Times will feature profiles of participating artists biweekly in Life and Times.
While most of the participants of the Studio Artists Tour are the stars of their own studio, those visiting Carolyn Seabolt's home may be more excited to meet the titular Oliver and Roxy of Cat Tracks Studio.
Seabolt is a Westminster-based painter, illustrator and ceramic artist, who has been a part of the Studio Arts Tour since its inception. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, Seabolt has taught art in Carroll County for decades. She said her passion for art started early.
"I used to crawl up on my dad's lap with paper and pencil when I was just a little kid. I'd ask him how to draw something, then I'd draw it based on his description," Seabolt said. "I kind of fulfilled his dream through my art."
Seabolt's work is larger inspired by the natural world, with cats and other animals a recurring theme in her work. She said she's become so associated with her cat paintings that when she submits other work into local shows many fans don't recognize it as hers.
Though she has spent most of her career teaching art at Westminster, Seabolt said she's been an instructor for art-lovers and newbies of all ages from young children to the seniors at the Westminster Senior Center.
"I love seeing the joy in people's eyes," Seabolt said. "So many people say, 'I can't draw,' but they just haven't let it come out of themselves yet. To see the pleasure on their faces is just wonderful. Art gives you a different way to look at the world. Most people on their drive home won't even look up at the clouds."
Cat Tracks Studio is located at Seabolt's home in Westminster. She said she started with an art room in the basement with no windows, before graduating to the laundry room. After hitting her head on the expansion tank one too many times, she convinced her husband to convert the back porch into her current studio.
"I decided the studio needed a name, because all studios need a name, and people were like, 'Well you like to do cats, why not name it after them?'" Seabolt said.
Despite her current love, Seabolt said she wasn't able to have a cat growing up, since her father was allergic. The year she got married, she said he bought her a Siamese cat, Holly, for Christmas. She's lived with cats ever since.
In addition to her paintings and fine art, Seabolt also writes and illustrates children's books as well. Her book, "My Day in the Garden," stars Roxy on an adventure in the gardens behind Cat Tracks Studio. Unlike many creators who write out a story and then illustrate it, Seabolt said she begins with the illustrations.
"When I started at MICA, I wanted to learn how to be an illustrator. Folks told me you don't want to do that, so I spent my life teaching," Seabolt said. "Now I'm doing what I wanted to do many years ago."
"My Day in the Garden" features colored pencil illustrations, but Seabolt said she's interested in creating a book through the method of silk paintings. In a silk painting, you trace a basic drawing onto a piece of 100 percent silk with gutta which resists dye. When the silk is dyed is segments, the resist contains the color allowing a design to be done.
Seabolt said she's interested in creating art using whatever techniques are at hand.
"There's so much ugliness in the world," Seabolt said. "Some people want to paint that. I want to paint the beautiful things. If you have a cat or dog or bunny you can look into their eyes and see their soul. I want to capture that."
Studio Artist Tour
In two weeks, the Times will profile artist Lori Baker.
Future artists in the series include Kelsey Wailes, Teri Koenig, Sharon Schaeffer, Lori Baker, Trista Fedoruk, Laura Koenig, Sharon Schaeffer, Lori Baker, Trista Fedoruk, Laura Wailes, Joyce Schaum, Max Groff and Elisa Dasher.Schaum, Max Groff and Elisa Dasher.
To see Carolyn Seabolt at work, visit www.carrollcountytimes.com