Caroline Wampole has spent her life in the arts. She was born in New York City and grew up on the East Coast in a bohemian household with an artist mother. Her early years were spent in theater, including touring with a theater company in Belgium at age 11. She moved to California in the early 1990s and became a bass player and singer/songwriter with the rock band Big Soul, which later had a platinum record in France. In 2002, after years of recording albums and performing on stage, Wampole moved to Paris 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 commissioned work for clients around the world.
When she's not painting, Wampole is a video editor and creative director with Story Eyed Media, the video production company she started with her husband and creative partner, Cedric Pilard. She also writes poetry and memoir essays and has read her work at SF Litquake, SF Book Passage, and other venues around the Bay Area, including San Francisco's Stagewerx Theater, where she's 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 naturally drawn to doing portraits. I've always been fascinated by the idea of being in someone else's skin, and all my life I've expressed this fascination by drawing cartoons, acting out characters on stage, and doing impressions of famous people and loved ones. In painting I found I was able to capture likenesses of people, similar to doing impressions. My interest has never been realism so much as it has been finding the truth, or essence, of a person, and expressing that in paint. I wanted to make portraits that felt alive to the viewer - whole and contained worlds of their own, not static reproductions.
In recent years, my portrait subjects have expanded to include figures from American culture and politics: the Obamas, Alan Greenspan, Howard Zinn, and popular TV shows like Mad Men. I also paint food, words and objects - inspired by old Jello recipes, vintage book covers, and the abundant farmers' markets I've been lucky to have access to, wherever I've lived. Though my paintings may range in subject matter, they all share the same obsession with color, and the relationships between colors within a given composition.
In the last year I have plunged head first into abstract painting, which feels like a natural next step 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.