Local 82-year-old watercolor artist to have third exhibit in Carbondale



Carolyn Hollabaugh uses grapes as a prop Tuesday Sept. 5, 2017, at her residence in Murphysboro. She plans on using the sketch of the grapes for her next painting on the canvas. (Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99)

By Amelia Blakely

For Carolyn Hollabaugh, an 82-year-old resident of Murphysboro, creating art has been a lifelong passion.

Though she loved to create throughout her childhood — making dresses for her paper dolls as a girl and excelling in art classes in high school — she instead made a career out of nursing.

Hollabaugh, who is scheduled to have her third art exhibit titled “A Splash of Watercolor” showcased Sept. 8 through Sept. 29 at the Varsity Gallery in Carbondale, said it wasn’t until she retired from nursing to raise three children in her late 40’s that her art career got off the ground.


“I always thought ‘someday, someday’ — and someday I did,” Hollabaugh said.

Hollabaugh said she moved to Dallas after graduating high school with her now ex-husband. It was there that she was able to be a stay-at-home mom and take watercolor painting classes.

After getting divorced in 1978, Hollabaugh said she had to go back to work as a nurse. During this period in her life, she said painting had to take a back seat.

Carolyn Hollabaugh shows her painting called “November Morning” she did from a photo Tuesday Sept. 5, 2017, at her residence in Murphysboro. (Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99)

“I was doing extra shifts and double shifts,” Hollabaugh said. “I just wanted to earn money so I’d have a little bit to put away”.

Even though her nursing job took precedence, Hollabaugh said she always had her paints set up.

“That’s how crazy I was for it,” she said.

Hollabaugh moved to southern Illinois in 2012 with her daughter Lisa, who was then working toward a master’s degree in psychology at SIU.


Carolyn Hollabaugh’s most recent artwork titled, Curious, is displayed on her easel Tuesday Sept. 5, 2017, at her residence in Murphysboro. (Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99)

She said she is influenced by other watercolor painters but still retains her own style.

“I just enjoy the process and try to make something that not only pleases me, but people who look at it,” Hollabaugh said. “And to have them look at something and say ‘Gee, I think I have a place for that.’”

Her technique is “sloppy,” she said.

“I kind of toss paint a little bit,” Hollabaugh said.

Hollabaugh said she will continue her art until she can’t anymore.

“I’m just gonna play and create”, said Hollabaugh. “I feel wonderful when I finish something and I think ‘I like this one.’”

The Varsity Gallery is open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Hollabaugh’s exhibit runs Sept. 8th to Sept. 29th.

Staff writer Amelia Blakely can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AmeilaBlakely.

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