THIS MUST BE THE PLACE

Caroline Stroud with her finished mural.

In a matter of days, a brick wall transformed from just another side of a building into a downtown landmark as Caroline Stroud took brush, paint and creativity and applied it to the new Wild & Rooted Hair Company building at the corner of North Jackson and West Adams Streets. “This Must Be the Place” says the wall, and it certainly is as stems, vines and leaves wind their way up the bricks to burst into various types of blooms along the ascent. 

Mallory Foster and Rebecca Bryant, owners of Wild & Rooted Hair Company, had a vision of doing something different with their building as they opened their new salon. They wanted it to be the kind of building that would attract attention and be remembered in a pleasant way. They wanted it to be a spot people would snap a picture and say, “Here I am in Forsyth.” They painted the building white, turning the long side wall into a huge canvas. They met with Caroline, gave her their basic ideas and told her to use her talents to transform the wall.

Murals are a bit of a new challenge for Caroline. She is a full-time artist, committed and experienced in painting, but has only begun taking on the mega-sized canvas that is a mural over the last year or so. She painted a mural at the University of Georgia Welcome Center, one on a set of doors at a fraternity house and another at an agency in Atlanta. These were all city-based murals. She said the Wild & Rooted Hair Company mural is actually the first exterior mural she has done. 

“This is unique, more subtle. It’s a great marketing tool,” she said.

Finishing it on Jan. 10, Caroline said she is pleased with the result. She said that Foster and Bryant were great to work with and if they are happy with the result, that makes her happy. She said she showed them a mock-up of her concept, telling them she knew it would change in the process of painting, and they trusted her to create a piece that would reflect their vision. Their hope was to bring awareness to Forsyth and, in turn, to their business. Caroline said she is impressed with what Foster and Bryant have done with the interior of the building and wanted to help them make as positive a statement with the exterior.

“There was a lot of trial and error in the beginning,” she said. “I stared at the wall for 30 minutes, then painted for six hours on Monday and decided to paint over everything.”

For a mural, she starts with a sketch, puts it in Photoshop over a photo of the wall or whatever it will cover and then adjusts the proportions. 

Caroline grew up in Bolingbroke, graduated from First Presbyterian Day School in 2014, earned a degree in business at University of Georgia in 2018 and then took a corporate job in Atlanta. However, she always had a passion for art. In 2017 she told her cousin that she would like to paint a portrait of her wedding.

Caroline used that wedding portrait to begin marketing herself as a wedding painter, painting three weddings in 2018 and 25 in 2019. She enjoys people watching her paint during the wedding and reception and their reaction when they spot themselves in the picture. She said the interactive element has become an important part of weddings.

“Weddings are so fun,” she said. “I love being part of them. I can paint really fast, which helps.”

As she began expanding her art career, she decided to quit her corporate job in April, find a studio and focus on art. She now has a studio at Little Tree Art Studio, a converted warehouse in Decatur, near Avondale Estates, that rents studio space to about 40 artists. She said every day since April has been a learning experience.

Many people stopped and watched Caroline paint in Forsyth, just like they do at weddings. Some were concerned when the word ‘the’ was missing while the work was in progress, but most were just interested and supportive. She said this makes public art fun, but her favorite part comes later when she unexpectedly spots her artwork as the backdrop in pictures that are posted. 

One thing about coming back to Monroe County to work is that she has found unexpected connections. A high school friend heard that Foster and Bryant wanted to paint a mural and recommended Caroline to them, whom she didn’t know before. However, when she mentioned what she was doing at a family dinner over the holidays, two relatives were excited because Foster and Bryant are their hair dressers.  

For the next two weeks Caroline will be back in Atlanta working on a mural commissioned for the Braves’ Chop Fest. After the Chop Fest on Jan. 24, the mural will be auctioned for charity. View more of her work on her website at www.carolinestroudart.com. Contract her through her Instagram: @caroline_stroud_art.