It took three decades for Carla Riseman to reconnect with her love of creating art. But now that she’s rediscovered that create spirit, she’s determined to share it with her neighbors in Brookfield.
She’s a little more than halfway through The 100 Day Project, joining a global initiative where artists create art every day for 100 straight days and share the work online with friends and followers.
While the work is available to everyone via social media – her Instagram can be found @thundermoonstudio – Riseman has been placing the small works of art at various spots around the village, giving hints about where they can be found.
Without fail – April 19 marks Day 57 – they get snapped up and very often those seeking out and finding the art explain why they sought out the little 4-by-6 and 5-by-7-inch pieces.
A woman who found Riseman’s Day 40 painting of a peach to mark Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March – important to Riseman because she lost her mother to it – told Riseman that her father had succumbed to colorectal cancer in 2021.
On Day 8, Riseman’s art was a tribute to Audrey Overholt, who along with her husband Roy was synonymous with Brookfield Little League. The Overholts lived across the street from the field bearing Roy’s name. The lights shone on the field all night on March 1, the night of Audrey’s funeral, in her memory.
“I just grabbed this one,” a woman wrote to Riseman that day. “We moved into the Overholts’ old house across the street last summer. It felt fitting we should find this one.”
When she started placing the art around town in February, she had no idea if anyone would even notice, or care. Sharing each day’s art both on her own social media and Brookfield Connections, with its 14,000 followers, has resulted in an enormous response.
“I really thought I was just going to practice every day and get better at making art, and I feel I’ve really gotten connected to Brookfield,” Riseman told the Landmark as she taped her Day 52 entry to the front door of Ms. Clara’s Joyful Learning Center on Broadway Avenue.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and I have friends, but I’ve met people that I don’t know and that I now talk to every day and are my BFFs,” she said. “That’s really the connection with my town that was the unintended wonderful consequence.
Originally a fine arts major in college, personal circumstances led her to change that focus and she forged a career in human resources and marketing, laying down her sketch pad and paintbrushes, seemingly for good.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
Instead of business shutting down where she worked, things were busier than ever. With a 6-year-old daughter having to attend school remotely the work-life balance, as Risemen put it, “had gotten unsustainable.”
“It was the worst,” Riseman said. “She was 6 when it started and so she needed constant supervision.”
Art lessons were asynchronous, so Riseman just started doing them along with her daughter, “just for some happy time.”
“I just noticed, ‘I feel nothing bad while I’m doing this. It’s almost like a drug, like this is fabulous,’” she said.
Having buried her artistic past, she was surprised to see it spring back to life.
“I don’t know what possessed me. I bought a bunch of watercolors stuff, which is the hardest medium possible when you pick up after not doing anything for decades,” Riseman said.
Sharing some of her work with friends generated positive feedback, so in late 2021 she opened a couple of online shops at RedBubble and Etsy, where she sold original greeting cards.
As 2022 dawned, Riseman started branching out, selling her work a couple of times at the Brookfield Farmers Market before being selected as a vendor for the Brookfield Fine Arts Festival last fall.
“I went there and stuff was just flying off my table and I was just shocked,” Riseman said.
She hopes to return to the Brookfield festival this year, but she already booked two dates to sell her work at the Brookfield Farmers Market – on opening day June 3 and on July 22.
On Aug. 11, Riseman will have a table at the Wood Dale Sounds of Summer festival and on Aug. 23 she’ll be at the Riverside Farmers Market Artisan Tent.
Plunging back into art has also brought her into contact with other like-minded Brookfield residents. She’s pitched ideas to the Brookfield Beautification Commission regarding public art opportunities and said she hopes to get more involved in those initiatives.
“Even if I was not part of it, I’d love to see more public art in Brookfield,” Riseman said, “but if I could help that happen, that’d really be amazing.”