Story: Amanda Valderrama // Photo: Fred Lopez
After an injury, local artist Carrie Knupp found a new way to express herself.
When it comes to motivation, any artist can truly aspire to be like Carrie Knupp. Carrie suffered an injury in June 2015 on the night of the grand opening of her studio. She tripped while carrying dishes and severed an artery in her right hand, paralyzing three fingers. This did not stop the Leesburg artist, however, as she created 138 paintings during the three months of her recovery. “
After surgery, I was supposed to paint 100 paintings for the Mount Dora Craft Festival. I asked the Lord, ‘How am I going to paint all these paintings? I’m right-handed,’” Carrie says. “The reply I got was, ‘You paint with your brain, use your other hand.’ So, I painted 138 paintings with my left hand.”
Though she has used most of the familiar mediums—watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, pastel, cartooning—Carrie has a unique style of painting now.
“I paint in molten beeswax. It is called encaustic, which is the Greek word ‘to burn in.’ I use a blowtorch to fuse each layer of wax,” Carrie says. “When I paint, I lose myself in what I am doing. Things happen I may not have planned but I believe were meant to be there.”
Carrie spends most days at her studio, Encaustic Guru, on Main Street in downtown Leesburg.
“A lot of my work is free form and relaxing to me and those I teach. Things I’ve gone through in my life inspire me. Those pieces are most important to me. They offer an avenue to help others. If I can help just one person, it is all worthwhile,” she says.
Carrie often receives positive feedback about her artwork.
“I remember when the Holocaust piece won the Award of Excellence and the People’s Choice for three straight months at the Maitland Jewish Center Holocaust Museum. It was for the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust,” Carrie says. “I had a price on the artwork, but a Jewish lady came up to me and said, ‘You must not sell this piece. This piece is of God; you must teach with this piece.’”
The woman’s words touched Carrie, who took the price off the painting.
“I began traveling and teaching with it, and so many people have thanked me for doing it. Some were descendants of Holocaust survivors, and some were experiencing hatred in their lives, as I have. Forgiveness is a big part of what I teach. My late husband taught me that a long time ago.”