Wareham painter selected to join Copley Society of Art reflects on ‘plein air’ creations

Feb 23, 2019

When Wareham native Carol Caradimos picked up her first box of pastel paints in Melbourne, Australia, she had no idea that her career in art was about to unfold.

This January, she was one of 21 new members to be welcomed into the Copley Society of Art; one America’s oldest non-profit arts organizations.

Founded in 1879, the Copley Society of Art is comprised of juried artists who are selected by a credentialed art committee. 

Each artist member is recognized as exceptional in their field, yet as Caradimos proves, this recognition is the result of more than just raw talent: Its the culmination of years worth of hard work.

As a college student, Caradimos said she had only studied art for a single year before switching her major to English.

A copywriter by trade, Caradimos was 35 when she decided to pack up and move halfway around the world to Australia with her husband.

In Melbourne, she pursued work in the marketing industry, and for years Caradimos said she was certain that she would never return to art. It “just wasn’t for her.”

“I had only been trained in a studio setting,” she said. “I had taken 12, maybe 13 art classes in my entire life. I was just always writing instead.”

When her in-laws came to visit 2002, however, Caradimos said she surprised herself by picking up a box of pastel paints.

“I decided I wanted to give them a painting as a gift,” she said. “I don’t know what gave me the idea, but I must have spent over a hundred hours on that one piece.”

The painting was of Uluru, Australia's iconic red rock, that her and her family often visited together. 

Caradimos said it was her first experience painting outdoors, or ‘en plein air’, and she said she quickly fell in love with the way the light on the rock face changed.

“There’s no better teacher than nature,” Caradimos said.

In 2002, Caradimos and her husband made the decision to move back to Wareham, and after a short hiatus, Caradimos was back into the pastels and plein air painting.

She traveled all around the Cape for her work, finding favorite locations in Provincetown, Orleans and Truro.

“I love Martha’s Vineyard, too,” she said. “Whenever I can actually manage to get out there.”

She resumed her lessons in art as well, finding a mentor in Melanie McGraw of Chatham.

“Melanie was the one who really pushed for me to join the Copley Society of Art,” Caradimos said. “She said it would help to launch my career, but I was very nervous about sharing my work.”

Caradimos said she spent a long time working on a portfolio with McGraw before her efforts finally paid off, her work most recently sitting on display in a gallery in Boston.

“I really believe that anyone with enough desire can become an artist,” she said. “There’s no special gift, just a lot of trial and error.”