Two years after graduating from PC, Mary Carpenter’s sister approached her about creating her wedding invitations.
Carpenter ’11 majored in English with an emphasis on creative writing. She says she loves the world of writing and literature as much as she loves art. Carpenter had taken art courses at PC and other universities during summer school, but she wasn’t sure she could pursue art.
Carpenter went back to class with her sister’s encouragement to try calligraphy. She took a six-week course before designing the invitations and addressing the envelopes.
In 2016, Carpenter was back creating for someone’s nuptials after a friend asked if she would live-paint at her wedding. It was also a first, but she accepted and headed to Alabama to paint. Her calligraphy work, then live paintings, snowballed into a full-time art career.
Later came her commissions — from portraits to landscapes to abstracts. Her style is overall pretty loose and abstract, she says.
“I like to focus on the movement and the color and let that be the focus,” Carpenter said. “I love meeting a client or couple and getting to know them and painting their personalities and letting that shine through.”
She does this all through her company, Love, Louise Designs. Carpenter’s work will be on display virtually beginning June 15. The exhibition is the first virtual art gallery featuring the work from a PC alumnus or alumna.
“Art is so very important to our world,” said Leni Patterson, executive director of the Alumni Relations. “Highlighting our talented alumni gives us a way to connect with alumni, donors and friends of the College.”
Carpenter’s pieces for the show feature flowers.
“I love it because all of the flowers are totally different,” she said. “Some are wildflowers; some are flowers you would see in a home. There are bouquets. Some of them are really abstract and crazy and wild and organic. Some of them are so much more graceful and poised, and neither one is right. They’re all just perfect and wonderful.
“I recently just read a scripture, it’s Luke 12:27, and it says, ‘Consider how the wildflowers grow.’ That really spoke to me, to look at how they’re growing. Really look at them and see them for what they are. I absolutely love that.”
Her exhibit will also include past pieces and commissions to showcase her other work. In addition to weddings, she’s even live painted events for companies like Delta Airlines in Atlanta, where she lives.
More about Love, Louise Designs
According to Carpenter, being a full-time artist is not without its challenges. But she felt called to the profession that summer of 2013 and considers it a gift.
Her family is made up of PC alumni, including her parents, sisters, aunt and uncle. They all supported her choice to pursue an art career. Her grandmothers also inspired her art company. Carpenter’s maternal grandmother, Louise, wrote letters her entire life, ending each the same way.
“Every letter she wrote, she always ended it with ‘love,’ not ‘warm wishes,’ not ‘sincerely,’ Carpenter said. “She ended it with how she felt and how she intended to be.”
This intention and love are behind the name of her company. Her paternal grandmother, “Appy,” taught her “to always believe in the bigger picture,” she said.
“She really encouraged this business, and she believed in me. Neither of them saw the birth of Love Louise, but I know in my heart that they’re looking down and beaming. They’re so joyful and so excited with this little venture.”
Carpenter has taken the lessons she’s learned as a Blue Hose with her as well. From English professor Robert Stutts encouraging her creative writing Capstone, a magazine, to the permission to “get creative” and explore all the possibilities after graduation.
She’s honored to be a part of the virtual gallery.
“I know a lot of very talented artists who graduated from PC,” Carpenter said. “To be put in that same category is so humbling, and I don’t take that for granted.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this and to come back to my alma mater, which was such a place of comfort. I found my three very best friends at the school, and it’s very neat to come back.”