Messenger - Vol. 2, No. 2, Page 6
Winter 1993
Painterly & Purposeful

     Carolyn Greg Mortimer's first job after graduating from the University
in l975 was to teach art at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Del., for
a year. Every day, she drove past Blue Ball Farm at the intersection of
Route 202 and Rockland Road and the property seemed to cast a spell over
her. Obsessed, Mortimer began painting this former du Pont dairy (the first
"barn" in the area to be designed by an architect) "in different seasons,
at different times of the day, from the west end and from the south end."
     "It became my theme, totally," she says.
     Heartbroken when she learned that the structure was slated for
demolition to allow for a new Route 141 by-pass, she contacted the Delaware
Historical Society, but there seemed little she could do to save the site.
She settled for "painting it before the brambles took over" and today has
found success as an artist marketing her limited edition print of Blue Ball
     The Blue Ball Farm print is the first in a series of watercolors
focusing on landmarks and landscapes jeopardized by commercial and
residential expansion.
     Now, she is in the process of seeking a grant to fund her painting of
endangered landscapes in Delaware and in her home state of New Jersey.
     "I want to paint these horizons before they are all gone. I want my
children to be able to remember the landscapes I remember," she says.
     Mortimer was born and reared in Woodstown, N.J., and transferred to
the University of Delaware in her sophomore year. While she says that she
"knew from an early age as all artists know" that she wanted to paint, she
also took education courses at the University "to please my parents."
     "And it has been interesting to see how working as an artist and
teaching have been interwoven in my life," she says now, at age 39. Her
innovative classroom methods earned her the 1990 New Jersey Governor's
Teacher's Recognition Award-the first time such an honor was presented to a
teacher in the humanities.
     Mortimer says the first thing she noticed about the art faculty at the
University was a willingness to treat students as professionals-a concept
she has carried over into her own teaching at the A.P. Schalick High School
in Pittsgrove Township, N.J.
     From the Delaware art department, she says she remembers fondly Julio
Da Cunha's advice that, "Your painting will not have an audience unless you
paint from the soul." She has also taken to heart Victor Spinski's words,
"Be brazen- boldness has power in it," and Anne Graham's counsel that,
"Craftsmanship can make all the difference."
     She also counts Joe Moss as one of her greatest influences, saying: "I
still use his dynamiting of Virginia coal mining canvases as an example in
the classroom that an artist must have commitment, be willing to sacrifice
something to communicate the larger message."
     In her own teaching, Mortimer often tries to find paying outlets for
her students' work and delights in seeing them earn their first paycheck
for their art work. One summer, for example, she arranged for many of her
students to paint interior murals in a new school building. Currently, she
and her students are marketing note paper. Proceeds go toward more
equipment for the classroom such as a T-shirt silk screen machine that will
allow Mortimer to turn original student designs into wearable art.
     Mortimer's originals sell anywhere from $300 to $900, with the Blue
Ball print retailing for $50. Her work is available at six local galleries
and from her home studio. She is in the beginning stages of marketing her
work in Nevilly, France, where there is interest in the Blue Ball Farm
print because of the du Pont family connection.
     Her biggest commercial successes were a sale to the Wilmington Trust
Arts Investment Fund and to the mayor of Atlantic City, who had one of her
three-paneled works purchased for the permanent collection at City Hall.
     The best rewards, however, are emotional, like the call from a
California woman who had seen one of Mortimer's paintings of a house in
Sharptown, N.J., hanging in a show at the Du Pont Country Club in
     "The woman had grown up in that house and her husband bought the
painting for her for their 50th wedding anniversary. She said I had
recorded a place with special meaning. That's the most important kind of
                                        -Beth Thomas