The early childhood of Long Island, NY native Caroline Kwas was spent outdoors roaming the fields, woods, and beautiful Atlantic beaches. Her early education steered her to excel in science and math, and she initially began university studies as a biochemistry major. However, an elective painting class to fulfill a liberal arts requirement changed her life. Within a year, she had exchanged a life of laboratories and lecture halls for one of creative passion. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, NY, she left the bustle of the Big Apple for the windswept, solitary shores of Montauk, Long Island. The tumbles of colorful stones along the ocean shore and variety of shells directed her work in what would become her photorealistic Intimate Landscapes series.
Completing a Master’s in Literacy Education, she continued to paint and exhibit on the outdoor art show circuit while teaching middle school. A chance sighting of the Arizona Fine Art Expo call-for-artists quickly changed her direction from full-time teacher to full-time artist. She was accepted to the three-month show, and upon arriving in Arizona, fell in love with the Southwest. Her work evolved into a color-filled playful contemporary realism inspired by the Southwest masters Georgia O’Keeffe, Ed Mell, Maynard Dixon, and Edgar Payne. She earned recognition within the National Parks System, where she was Artist-in-Residence at Mojave National Preserve in 2016.
Continually inspired by the colors of the Southwest’s majestic dawns and fiery sunsets, Caroline is drawn to the abstraction of natural forms created in the desert landscape illuminated in such magical light. The saguaro is a common subject in her paintings. For her, it represents endurance, persistence, and perseverance in the desert’s harsh climate. The saguaro’s spirit is a reflection of her own.
"I have painted in oil since I first picked up a brush over thirty years ago. I’ve always loved bold splashes of color, and the strong lines I use come from my love of geometry and math, which reflect the mathematical patterns that are repeated throughout nature. They flow across the canvas while layers of oil paint yield the rich colors that reflect my emotional response to nature, and find a home in the playful geometric contemporary realism that defines my current work.
I became a full-time artist when I purchased my first RV and then spent seven years traveling solo throughout the United States. I remember standing spellbound many nights when I first arrived in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert: where had I ever seen this much space? The vast expanses of the Southwest required a shift in my perspective once confronted by these awe-inspiring vistas. A purely realistic approach was not going to express the breathtaking spaces I felt here.
I am continually inspired by the colors of mystical dawns and fiery sunsets of the Southwest, and by the multitude of life in this harsh environment. The saguaro cactus, beyond being the ubiquitous icon of the desert, represents life force and the ability to thrive under adverse conditions. Art was not a career option growing up; in fact, it led to a split with my family. The saguaro in particular is a reflection of my spirit, and the riot of blossoms that appear every spring are an homage to the beautiful and multifaceted views of our own souls bursting forth with acceptance of our own true selves."