Carol Earle is a name known throughout generations of Oakdale for her artistic talent. Drawing, watercolor, acrylic, oil, and pastels are her specialty and she has a particular fondness for wildlife and seascapes.
The name could be familiar if one recalls when the town would light up with artwork around April.
“I was a window painter for 35 years and I used to do all the Oakdale windows for the rodeo,” Earle reported.
Not only that, but she’s also been teaching art for years at a variety of venues. While she used to travel all around to share her expertise, nowadays you can usually find her in the back room of the Oakdale Hobby Shop on the corner of North Yosemite and East E Street.
“She taught my mom and my grandma,” Kayla Williamson, an attendee of Earle’s 3 p.m. Thursday class for youngsters, shared.
The class was filled with four girls on a recent Thursday, learning how to paint a sunset and silhouettes. Alyce Venicombe’s grandmother also reported that Earle had taught her daughter and now continued to teach her granddaughter.
“So three generations I’ve been teaching,” Earle confirmed. “And each week is a different thing.”
This particular class is designed for kids seven- to 18-years-old, and is held at the hobby shop from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays, costing $15 each class, all supplies included. Earle doesn’t just show the participants what to paint; she carefully ensures that they all have a sense of technique and how to use their brushes just right.
Thanks to the small nature of this particular class, the attendees could come up to the instructor and compare their paintings to Earle’s to make sure they were working correctly.
“What they did with this canvas was use white, yellow, orange, and red for their little sunset. So they learned how to blend it across the top and we do the edges so that they can just hang them,” Earle explained.
The girls, who have been attending for a few weeks, noted that they had a few paintings hanging in their own homes and had even given some away as gifts.
“I’d like to learn how to paint a horse,” one of them shared.
Tatum Long agreed: “I like to draw the most; I like to draw horses and unicorns and anime people.”
The girls added that they have also started painting in their own free time. As Kayla Williamson shared, “I paint here and at my grandma’s house because she has paints.”
Currently, the novice painters are working with acrylics. Thanks to the fans in the back room and the quick-drying nature of the medium, they were able to complete a multi-layered painting within the hour and a half of the class.
“The owner put this room together and I’ve been here probably since 1994,” Earle said in between helping her students with their paintings. “I used to have the building behind the library ... and I used to teach for the City of Oakdale in the Parks and Recreation Department.”
Now, Earle offers the weekly classes for kids as well as adult learners. Tuesdays and Thursdays she leads adult classes from 10 a.m. to noon for adults to work on their own projects and her to give some direction as desired. People from all around the county and beyond have come, traveling to Oakdale from as far as Soulsbyville to work on their art with Earle as a guide.
As the class wrapped up Thursday and the girls finished their paintings, they were eager to brainstorm what to work on the next week, suggesting marine life, elephants, wildlife, and more.
Some of the girls shared that they wanted to be artists when they grow up but Earle stopped them before they continued. She insisted the moment they picked up their brushes and started creating they were already artists.
Earle’s positivity and knowledge has been training generations of local artists. Even if it’s something they never pursue professionally, the calm environment provided at the hobby shop and quiet atmosphere is enough to take a break from daily life, pick up a brush, and become an artist.