Carol Ezell-Gilson

Carol Ezell-Gilson in front of her stained glass paintings

Charleston, SC is my home. As a child, I spent a great deal of time with my grandfather who was born in Charleston in the late 1890s. He loved his native city and regaled me with stories of its history as we walked through the old district. Charleston was a different place in the 1960s, relatively undiscovered. I, too, fell in love with its history, beauty, and mystery.

Early on, I enjoyed drawing and coloring. In third grade, I began art lessons with Marion Weldon. She taught groups of kids in her garage. We chose our subject matter from a pile of National Geographic magazines in the corner. Mrs. Weldon loved color, too, and taught me how to mix oil paints.

In high school, I enrolled myself in a teenage drawing and painting class at the Gibbes Museum School in downtown Charleston. Teacher Manning Williams introduced me to figure drawing and perspective. He took me outside to paint – plein air – and taught me how to capture the beautiful, still-rural landscape of the Lowcountry.

My intensive study in drawing and painting began in the fall of 1976 at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. I completed my four year certificate of study in the spring of 1980. It was an expansive experience with access to the great art museums of Philadelphia, New York and Washington. While at the Academy, I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Self Portrait at 51 - 23 x 33  acrylic on canvas 2009

Self Portrait at 51
23 x 33 acrylic on canvas 2009

The high point of my first year at the Academy was meeting Marshall Glasier, who became my mentor. Marshall taught life drawing both in Philadelphia and at the Art Students League in New York. Though he was 55 years my senior, we developed a strong unique friendship that would last until his death in 1988.

Upon returning home, I taught drawing and painting at the Gibbes Museum School and was Elementary Art Teacher at First Baptist Church School. My love for Charleston led me to become a licensed city tour guide, conducting walking tours of the historic district.

In 1992, I completed a Masters of Arts and Teaching degree at the College of Charleston and began teaching Language Arts in middle school in rural Branchville, SC. Three years later, in 1995, I married Tom Gilson and returned to Charleston.

After 5 years teaching in the public school system, I desperately wanted to get back to painting. I went more into public history education at local historic sites, serving as Historian/Guide of the Charleston’s City Hall Council Chamber from 1997 – 2000 and as Curator/Guide of the Legare-Waring House at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site from 2000 – 2004. My last full-time position was with the Historic Charleston Foundation from 2006 – 2009. Now I remain active guiding walking tours and painting.

I have always painted what I love. The Charleston area has greatly inspired my work, but I also paint from my memory and imagination. Though my subject matter is varied, common elements of form, color, line, and pattern run throughout my work. I do not depend on my art for a living, but do show my work every few years.