Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, November 19, 1996

Card line captures scenes around the region
by Steve Wartenberg
Staff Writer

Not to pat ourselves on the back, but we at The Intelligencer Record feel in some small way responsible for Carol Wallace's successful career as an artist. All the way back in 1955, the 11-year-old Wallace, a Chalfont resident at the time, placed third in the paper's Davy Crockett Coloring Contest. She won a $5 gift certificate and a coonskin hat. "We had to color in a picture of a pony," Wallace remembers. "Instead of just putting in a blue sky, I made a sunset." The winner, New Britain's Sandra Taylor, went even further, turning her pony into a spotted, two-toned pinto. "Even at a young age art was very competitive," Wallace jokes. Although she quickly spent the money and has no idea whatever happened to the coonskin hat, Wallace never lost her love for art. "I was an artist ever since I got my first box of crayons," she says. Fast forward to the present and Wallace, who now lives in Connecticut, is an award-winning artist who receives scores of commissions to draw historic inns and shops. Her diverse talents also include designing wine labels, technical drawings and large watercolors that hang in galleries. She also helped produce a television commercial that promoted tourism in Connecticut. Wallace tries to use her art to help preserve this country's past. "Painting rural scenes helps preserve it for future generations," Wallace says. Wallace has developed several successful lines of black and white pen-and-ink cards that feature historic scenes from Connecticut, Maine, and,most recently, Bucks County, including Peddler's Village, Mechanic Street in New Hope, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Fonthill and covered bridges and old farms. She also drew a pen-and-ink poster of 30 country stores in Vermont.

Wallace is self-taught and credits well-known Bucks County artist Ranulph Bye with launching her career when she was in her late teens."I went to his studio about five or six times," she says. "He didn't know me, but I went to school with his daughter and he critiqued my work and gave me pointers." Bye, who has taught and helped dozens of artists, says he didn't remember Wallace. Still, Wallace wants him to know "how much he influenced me." After working as a dental assistant, for the telephone company and an airline company, Wallace married in 1968. She and her husband, Richard, an attorney, reared two children in Connecticut. "The whole time I was painting," Wallace says.

Her first commission was from a hardware store in Allentown (Pennsylvania) for a drawing of nuts and bolts. Through the years, Wallace has graduated from nuts and bolts to historic inns. Most of the cards in her Bucks County line came from commissions. Her latest is of The Inn On Blueberry Hill in Doylestown Township, which dates back to 1794. It recently reopened as a restaurant and a section of it will reopen as an inn in a couple of years. "I saw her cards in The Pansy Shop in Warrington," said Carole Abom, who owns the restaurant along with her husband, John. "I really liked her work and called her. Her cards were really elegant, and we wanted to be included," John Abom added. Wallace, who visited the inn and took a series of photographs, is still in the process of completing this drawing.

Marketing the cards, which are dedicated to her parents, Evelyn and Joseph Brucker, hasn't been a problem thanks to Mom. "She's tenacious - she's excellent," Wallace says of her mother's marketing skills. "I never realized what a wonderful rep she would make." Her line of cards are available in at least 25 different card and specialty shops in Bucks County and cost around $2 each. And hand-colored copies of the original drawings are on display at the Michelyn Gallery in New Britain. "We're very pleased with the sale of the cards," says Nancy Way, owner of The Paper Unicorn, a Doylestown card and gift shop. "We always had people coming in asking for things relating to Doylestown and Bucks County, and we didn't want to sell them spoons with "Doylestown" written on them. "Now I can point them to the cards." Wallace isn't finished drawing Bucks County. "I'm always on a quest for old stone barns," Wallace says. "I like driving around the Phillips Mill area, seeing the flowers come down over the buildings and the ivy-covered walls."

Committed to the preservation of Americana through her pen-and-ink drawings, Carol Wallace's card line includes this rendition of Fonthill. Henry Chapman Mercer's Doylestown home built between 1908 and 1912. This is one of Wallace's art cards depicting Peddler's Village in Lahaska. Carol Wallace has developed several lines of black and white, pen-and-ink cards that feature historic scenes from Connecticut, Maine, and, most recently, Bucks County.