Art has been a part of Carol Hartley’s life since she was born.
Her mother painted portraits.
“I watched her paint my entire life,” said Hartley, the founder and owner of Picasso for a Night. “Being around her in her studio in the house and other locations or sitting for her for portraits — I remember being totally immersed in her painting as a child and young adult. It was a part of my life. Art was always a part of my life.”
Hartley attended art college at Swain School of Design in Massachusetts.
A New Hampshire girl by birth, she discovered Savannah by boat and knew this was a place that would satisfy her passion for art history. Dustin, her oldest child, was 2½ at the time and was later joined by brothers Garrett and Vincent. All three boys would grow up in Richmond Hill, while their mom worked as a teacher at Bradwell Institute in Hinesville from 1979-1992.
From there, Hartwell transferred to Richmond Hill Primary School and spent 17 years as an art teacher until retiring in 2009. She was named the school’s Teacher of the Year in 1995.
She teamed up with Community Education in Bryan County and has worked there for more than 15 years.
“I did not start painting, myself, until I retired,” Hartley said. “I used to dream about it in my dreams. I would wake up and say, ‘That was beautiful.’”
After retiring as a teacher, words of encouragement from a friend spurred her toward launching Picasso for a Night. Shortly after retirement at a dental visit, dental hygienist Karen Infinger who also is a friend, spoke of a painting experience she had in Charleston.
“She had painted a crab and told me, ‘You can do that here.’ I had just retired so I wanted to do something,” Hartley said. “I went two times and painted with them. I realized I knew I could do this with my teaching background. I realized I could do this, and I think I want to do this. I began thinking of a name.
“I’ve taught it all and dealt with a wide spectrum of subjects,” she continued. “I feel very confident with teaching and dealing with people and using different media.”
Picasso for a Night began hosting events at the Community Education Program building in 2010. Hartley has grown her business by using local facilities such as the Ford Plantation and various local churches, as well as private events, fundraisers and, most recently, locking in another local spot at Let’s Create, next to All Things Chocolate. While growing her business, Hartley has been able to stay mobile.
“I worked with the intent to go public in such a way that I would take everything with me and be mobile and not have a business overhead to pay for,” Hartley said.
As her business continues to grow and develop, Hartley continues to commit her life to the arts. She is a member of the Art on the Coast board, McIntosh Art Association, Landings Art Association and the Telfair/Jepson Museum educational committee.
“As an artist, I feel it imperative to produce work which not only adheres to my standards of quality, but also my creative value,” she said.
Hartley said that over the years, she has enjoyed watching first-time painters walk away inspired. They come back and take classes until one day, they stop coming. This is a joy for her, she said, because many didn’t think they could paint.
“People can be intimidated and then they realize they can do this and develop their own passion for it,” she said.
Picasso for a Night offers a variety of picture options and canvas sizes with a customizable occasion for an on-location event, in-studio class, or mini-Picasso nights for children.
“What a joy and delight!” Picasso painter Susan Lynah said. “Carol had everything in place when the class arrived, and we started with great gusto. Carol was available for any questions or help and was very knowledgeable on anything that has to do with art. When the class was over, we all were thrilled with our work and delighted by our new friends and talents. I recommend Carol’s class to anyone that is looking for a quality evening with a wonderful keepsake!”
For more information on Hartley of Picasso for a Night, go to www.picassoforanight.com.