Artist Caroline Rish has 250 prints of her Indian Pass Raw Bar painting in town, selling it everywhere from the Salt Air Farmer’s Market to Persnickety Boutique on Reid Avenue.
Most notably, her work was featured at the Centennial Celebration, and she already has a lengthy list of pending commissions.
It’s important to note that in August, Rish will be a sophomore at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School.
It was during Julie Hodges’ art class, where students were tasked with painting historic structures that Rish’s watercolor came into existence. The painting caught Hodges’ eye and the teacher suggested that Rish get prints made in order to make some money for college.
Hodges also asked the artist if she could hang the painting in the student art show which would be presented alongside the Centennial Timeline display.
“I was very happy, but also really nervous,” said Rish about the display. “I didn’t know how my art would be perceived. I’m so young and I want to be taken seriously.”
The painting drew interest from around the community and now a poster-sized print of the watercolor can be purchased at Persnickety along with postcards baring the image.
On a rainy Saturday in July, Rish made her artistic debut at the Salt Air Farmer’s Market. She was armed with 15 prints of the painting, postcards, and a lot of hope.
On this particular day, weather kept many of the normal patrons away from the popular gathering area at the City Commons.
Rish reported feeling “discouraged” by the weather, but after an hour, the rain cleared up and soon the patrons made their way to the market. Within an hour, the prints and postcards had sold out.
“People really enjoyed it,” Rish said of the response to her work.
Now the artist stays fully stocked on prints with assistance from Steve Kerigan at Coast2Coast printing and has planned to open a bank account specifically for her earnings that she can put toward attending art school after graduation.
Rish said that she had been painting since the age of eight when her father gave her a basic watercolor set and found inspiration all around her.
“I would look at things and notice how cool it looked and I would want to replicate it,” she said.
Once she became serious about her art, she bought books on the subject and took classes, including step-by-step painting. Though she learned a lot, she said that she felt restricted after a while.
Rish said, “I wanted to do my own thing and make something cool.”
After painting different subjects, the artist has found landscapes to be the most fun she finds herself inspired by trees and “the way that the light catches them.”
Over the summer, Rish volunteered alongside a group of High School students and worked with the 21st Century Enrichment program at Port St. Joe Elementary. Hodges brought her in to assist with students in grades one through six that were creating art for the Centennial Celebration. Rish say it as a great way to spread her love of art and also get some hours to be put toward a Bright Futures Scholarship.
Rish lead the class of children step by step through a watercolor painting of the Port Theater. She utilized basic shapes, colors and a whole lot of patience.
“It was daunting, but it was really awesome,” she said. “It was interesting to see people so young be so excited about life.”
Though she was nervous about teaching, she enjoyed the process of creating alongside the young students and learned to adapt to their learning style.
The artist chose the Port Theater as the subject because she thought it was “the most aesthetically appealing building in town.”
Though she draws free-hand on occasion, Rish feels that watercolors are the best expression of her art and likes the fluidity of painting.
The artist is currently taking commissions and is midway through a painting of the Methodist Church in Port St. Joe.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Rish. “It’s a beautiful church.”
She reported that most people who request commissions give her free reign to paint whatever she wants. While for some, that could overwhelm some, Rish said that it forces her to think about the person’s personality and really consider what they would for the end result.
A painting may take her a few days or a few weeks to finish and is dependent on how much time she has to work.
Rish said she is appreciative of the support and encouragement she has seen from the community, her family, her teachers and her friends at school. After graduating high school, Rish is interested in careers in both the arts and psychiatry. She excited to explore the potential of art therapy.
“When I get into my groove, I get lost in the work,” said Rish. “I just want to inspire others.”