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Mind of the Artist, Part VI: Carolyn Rondthaler

March 22, 2017

Welcome back to our Mind of the Artist series, featuring members of the Capitol Hill Art League (CHAL), a program of CHAW.  Today’s featured artist is Carolyn Rondthaler, an artist who came to painting later in life–and is an inspiration to anyone who feels like there’s no time to fit the arts into the day. Read on to hear her story in her own words!

I didn’t get serious about painting until I was in my late 40s. I sketched a little and made drawings for my family, but my real interest didn’t begin until I visited an aunt who was a watercolor artist and teacher. As she was showing me the paintings in her home, I remarked that I had always wanted to paint in watercolor. She looked at me very directly and said, “I don’t think so. Knowing you, if you wanted to do it, you would.”

Around the same time, I had a dream that I had found a room in my house with beautiful things that I had forgotten about. I understood that dream to refer to my creativity and interest in art, which I had neglected. I wrote about the dream in a journal and found I was writing more and more about painting. I realized that I could be doing art instead of writing about it, and gave up the journal. I was working out of town on a three-month assignment, but went to an art store one evening after work and put together a simple watercolor kit and started painting an hour every day—even though I was working full time. I gave up my writing time, but it was worth it.

P1060989 (2)When I returned home to Portland, Oregon after that work assignment, I enrolled in a watercolor class at a nearby art center. I was fortunate that the teacher was Dory Kanter, who has written a book called Art Escapes. Her book is pretty much like her classes, with exercises that are simple and help build confidence. She also teaches color triads, which have been useful for me as I continue painting. She no longer teaches, but definitely got me started.

P1060919My favorite paintings are plein air, and I have included a few DC plein air paintings. For more, please visit my website,, and also my art blog,

Check out more CHAL work at their March exhibition at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, co-hosted by CHAMPS (Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce), “Appetite for Art.” The opening will take place 5:00pm-7:00pm on Saturday, March 5th at CHAW, 545 7th St. SE, and is free and open to the public. The jurors, Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams (public art expert) and Stephen Cheung (local restaurateur), will speak at 5:30pm and present awards to the prize-winning artists. General gallery hours are: 9:30 am–9:00 pm (M-Th), 9:30 am–6:00 pm (F), and 9:00 am–2:00 pm (Sat).  The exhibit will run March 5 through April 15 in the Gallery. For more information, visit, or call (202) 547-6839.