This week’s Q & A feature is CC Caldwell, a Sanibel resident and accomplished artist who also volunteers for FISH and is currently chairing a committee tasked with creating a fundraising cookbook for FISH and CHR. Read on to find out why CC went swimming in creamed corn and why selling a painting for just $25 was one of her most cherished achievements as an artist.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in a small framing town in Illinois and I moved to Fort Myers in 1962 with my mother. At that time, Fort Myers was still a small town — highway 41 was a two lane road with big pot holes. But this small town was a big city to this little farm girl.
When did you first know that you were meant to be an artist?
Growing up, I sketched all the time. As I would look at someone, I found myself sketching them.
What's your family like?
As a child, I loved staying on the farm with my grandparents — a simple way of life. We grew a wonderful garden of fresh vegetables and fruits. When the local canning factory brought a large amount of cream style corn and dumped it in the barn yard for the chickens, it was a great opportunity to go for a cream style swim, along with my two sisters. I did not get in trouble, as I hid out longer than my sisters —this gave my Grandmother time to clam down.
My mother lives in the Fort Myers area as well as one of my sisters. I have two sons, four grandsons and two granddaughters.
As an artist, what inspires you?
I believe my inspiration for my art work began coming to me at a very young age. I made up designs from clouds, trees and all of the nature around me.
Now, I just look at this beautiful Sanibel Island and I am inspired to paint almost every thing I see. I am a Plein Air painter and have painted at many locations on Sanibel and Captiva. If you see me out painting, stop and say hello! I always enjoy meeting people.
One time, I was at Tarpon Bay Marina and almost finished with a painting, and behind me there were two young boys, ages 10 and 8, I would guess. The oldest boy said to his brother, “WOO! I like that picture.” Then the youngest boy says in a real excited way, “Lets buy it.” Now they are behind me counting their money. “Woo! We have $25, we can buy it,” one says. They approached me and said, “Will you take $25 for that picture?” I looked at them and said, “Yes, I will. Would you like me to paint you both into this kayak?” So I did. When putting their wet painting in the trunk of the car, their grandmother said to me, “That was every penny those two boys had. I said “Yes, I know, and I don’t sell my art for $25.” In the life of an artist that was one of the nicest compliments I have ever had.
What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
In my past, I owned and managed two restaurants. After selling my last restaurant in Fort Myers, I began working here on Sanibel as a server for about nine years. I enjoyed all the great people I was able to meet. I now work part time at Rinaldi’s Fashion Shoes here on Sanibel.
My true love is my art work — creating paintings from the scenery around me and also creating paintings from memory. Some of my best were painted this way. I was painting and selling my artwork long before I ever took my first painting lesson. I took painting lessons for about 2 months from Tony Rinaldi. My work improved greatly and it helped me to refine my own style. At a later date, I taught oil painting for beginners and intermediates.
I am currently designing painted clothing. I hope to create my own line of designs.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Woo! I had to think about this! There are so many people that have helped me to become the person I am today. I am thankful to all of them and the knowledge and wisdom they shared with me.
I would want to have dinner with my grandfather. If I could do this, I would say “Thank you” for teaching me to enjoy the little things in life and teaching me to take the time to appreciate all the beauty around me. I am sure this is what inspired me to be an artist.
How would you describe your style as an artist?
You look at my work and see a definite style. Some people have told me they feel as though they could walk into my paintings and live there. I am primarily a realistic painter, although I have painted impressionistic and also some fun abstracts. I mostly work with oil, some water colors as well.
Where can people see your work?
My work (12 to 14 oil paintings) will be on display Dec. 3 through Jan. 1 at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. I also have paintings in the BIG ARTS Gallery and the gift shop at the Periwinkle location. The Sporty Seahorse Gift Shop also carries some of my prints and greeting cards.
Could you describe some of your more recent work?
One of the oil paintings I recently completed and that I had fun with was a painting of the first Bailey store (1899 to 1926). This I gave as a gift to the Bailey family as a thank you for being so involved in our community. This was a historic painting I felt they should have.
In what other ways are you involved in the island community?
I volunteer for FISH and I try to do that at least twice a month. I am also currently the chairperson for The “Sanibel Melting Pot Cook Book.” This is a complete fundraiser for FISH (Friends in Service Here) and CHR (Community Housing Resources). We have formed a hard working committee, but we need recipes.
Please send your favorite recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-579-0312 for more information.
What are you thankful for?
On Thanksgiving, we all say a special thank you, and I am thankful and proud to live in this great wonderful country of ours.
I give thanks every day for all of my blessings. I have many to be thankful for.