Eye for Design
Carolyn Campbell is a master of interior design and avid oil painter
article by Maré Brennan & photos by Martin G Meyers
When I discovered BayouLife was headed to Nashville for our 2017 Travel Issue, my first thought was of Carolyn Campbell. She was the interior designer who rescued my train wreck of a renovation back in 2005, gently guiding us back on track and creating memorable spaces that have provided the backdrop for my family for over a decade. Campbell was my design“go-to” as she had written column after creative column on interior design for my former magazine back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And she had the real world “chops” to back up her designs as she was the first woman to be a licensed contractor in Louisiana in 1969.
Right after my home renovation was completed, Carolyn decided to make her own home in Nashville, moving to Music City after Louisiana was left with gubernatorial choices of convicted felon Edwin Edwards and former klan grand wizard David Duke. Soon after, her husband Paul Norris proposed and made the move to Nashville as well. Because of the couple’s ties to Monroe, Campbell still returns to north Louisiana frequently to visit family and to work with clients while maintaining a full complement of projects in Nashville. While establishing her interior design business in Nashville, Campbell worked for noted home furnishings, lighting and accessories company, John Richard.
It was during an office renovation in Monroe for Vici French’s venerable advertising agency, French Creative Group, that Campbell discovered her love of painting in the early 2000s. “I was always good with color,” says Campbell, “but I couldn’t draw. I started painting with oil, because you have more time to work with the paint before it dries.” The office renovation took Campbell’s design skills totally out of the box. She recalls the men’s bathroom that incorporated actual car hub caps and comic book style graffiti. Soon after, she began painting for clients and selling her oil paintings out of her house.
“I’ve been on a dog kick lately, says Campbell, whose dog portraits are in demand as commissions. “I wanted to do a dog painting for my stairway. Paul is fairly dog crazy – he really loves the paintings like you’d see in English country manor houses with sporting dogs.” The first dog painting she ever did (see top painting above) was a replica of miniature painting she had seen at William Seacourt Galleries, which always has an exhibit at the Westminster Dog Show. “I gave the painting to Paul as a gift, and he loved it,” says Campbell.
While dog portrait commissions have been part of Campbell’s repertoire for quite a while, she still loves to explore landscapes, which are her favorite, and even more abstract non-objective paintings — no style is off limits for this intrepid painter who found her talent as an outreach of her interior design.
When working on paintings, Carolyn tends to work alone and loves long, uninterrupted stretches of time to create. “Before I married Paul, I would paint at night,” she laughs. “All my nightgowns had paint on them.” Often creating paintings for clients’ projects, Carolyn says she often works on inspiration.
Carolyn’s own light filled home and office are located near Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, Bellemeade Country Club and Percy Warner Park. Her adorable King Charles Cavalier, named Holly, is captured on canvas and hangs in the couple’s breakfast room.
Several skins of zebras which were hunted by Paul, a United States representative for an African safari company, create the basis for a master bedroom that seems to be inspired by Out of Africa. On the walls, are portraits painted by Carolyn, along with a built-in bookshelves, which are a signature feature in most bedrooms created by the designer. Carolyn painted the landscape behind the iron canopy bed not long after her move to Nashville.
Carolyn Campbell is accepting paintings on a commission basis and is available for interior design consultation. Call 318.348.9065 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.