The MNY Spotlight

Meet Caroline Blackburn, Painter & Founder of Van Der Wind

Introduce yourself! 

 Hello! My name is Caroline Blackburn and I'm an abstract expressionist painter living in the UK with my husband, James and our rescue dog, Moby. I moved here to the UK from America during the pandemic, so it's been a bit of a whirlwind! 

Caroline wears the Adelina Gown and Geometric Jade Earrings

Can you tell us a little bit more about your background in art and what motivated you to pursue painting full time?
I was an art history major at Trinity, and I loved it. I loved my classes; I loved my professors; and I was completely fascinated by the subject matter. Being so close to New York City meant that some of the most fabulous galleries and museums in the world were super accessible. There was definitely a lightbulb moment where I realized that "Hey, I actually really love learning". Art awakened that in me; but it wasn't until I left school that I became really enamored with the idea of creating art; and it took even longer for me to actually pick up the brushes and start painting.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I had a vision of the art I wanted to surround myself with, and I couldn't find anything quite right at an affordable price point. I create art that (hopefully!) people will want in their homes; things that feel really fresh and unique but also calming. In my pieces, I draw a lot of inspiration from water; specifically the ocean. I really enjoy working with lots of blues, whites and greys. I like to see them as abstract landscapes. 
What does your creative process look like?

It's a lot of trial and error - most of my paintings that are on the web site now have been painted over dozens of times, and looked completely different than when I started them! Truthfully, I don't go into it with a lot of direction. The fun part for me is getting in front of the canvas and seeing where the medium takes me :)

Caroline Blackburn, Painter & Founder of Van Der Wind
What is your favorite part of being a full time artist? Most challenging? Most rewarding?

I love getting lost in it. I think that's how you know you're doing something worthwhile; when a few hours feels like a few minutes. I usually work on multiple canvases at a time, and there are days when I feel stuck; like none of my pieces are moving forward. But I've learned that the most important thing is getting into the studio and putting the work in - it's the only way to work through the problems on the canvas. I never stop until I can honestly say I love a piece.  

Shop Caroline's paintings online Van Der Wind and
follow on Instagram at @vdwpaints
What draws you to the Mestiza brand?

The clothing is stunning, the founders are brilliant, and the values are aligned with mine. I've really taken an interest lately in slow fashion, and all of their pieces are incredibly high quality; they simply are made to last. There's definitely a parallel between Louisa and Alessandra's motivation for creating Mestiza and mine for creating Van Der Wind, and that was to fill the gap in the market for unique luxury items at a more attainable price point.

I remember the first mestiza garment I ever bought was a hot pink shift dress with these beautiful embellishments - the fit was SO flattering! Sometimes shift dresses can be really boxy and not give you any shape, but this one was just the most beautiful fit. You could really tell how much attention to detail there was in every aspect of the garment, and it really speaks to Mestiza's commitment to impeccable quality. 

Caroline Blackburn, Painter & Founder of Van Der Wind
Where are you wearing your Mestiza piece and how are you styling it? Any notes on how your Mestiza piece makes you feel?!
I'm wearing this gorgeous gown in my house in Westbury Park, Bristol! But I'm really looking forward to putting it back on when wedding season really kicks off. The fabric is so unique and such a beautiful color; I feel incredibly glamorous but also really comfortable! I've also just found out via the Mestiza instagram that it's machine washable? Amazing! 
What’s the best advice you could give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Start now! If you have an idea and you're really serious about it, don't wait around for the right moment. It's never going to feel like the right moment. You just have to do it! For me, it's really about getting my butt in the chair and putting the work in, even on the days when I feel stuck. I try to look at it with the mindset that even a "bad painting day" isn't a failure, our creative minds are always hard at work.

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