Cara Olsen

One might be surprised to learn that my career as a painter actually began with my dream to become a writer. About fifteen years ago, following a decade managing homes and working with families as a nanny/house manager, I had put myself in a position to do what I had always longed to do: write a book. I set off in pursuit of this lofty goal, reading as many books as I could on the subject and teaching myself the art of how to use proper grammar. It didn’t take long before I knew I was way in over my head, though I was determined to see it through.

Nearly four years later and I had a manuscript that was nowhere near perfect and that I ultimately had to self-publish, because no literary agent in their right mind wanted to take on a 700-page tome written by a no-name writer. Even so, I was incredibly proud of myself; I had written a book! However, spending so many years in my head had left me in rough shape, mentally and physically, long days hunched over a keyboard. What began as a tension headache quickly manifested into acute and widespread symptoms no doctor could diagnose. I met with eleven specialists total and not one of them could pinpoint what might be the root problem.

I spent the majority of a year in bed, unable to sleep from chronic pain and insomnia, unable to exert myself beyond hobbling to and from the bathroom. It was an incredibly dark time in my life. Despite a loving husband and family, I was alone most days and struggled to find the desire to keep living. I considered ending my life more times than I can even remember now, though through it all I felt this presence urging me to hold on.
After months living as though I were already dead, I decided I’d had enough. I wagered that IF I was in fact dying, this wasn’t how I wanted to do it. I finally gave up the struggle and even the desire to get better and instead surrendered to what was happening to me. No more fear, no more longing to be healed. Just accepting me as I was, for as long as I might exist. It was as though I simply laid down a thousand-pound backpack I hadn’t known I was carrying. I asked Jesus to use me, my prayer very simple, “Lord, give these days meaning.”

And in His great and infinite love, He met me in the darkness.
On one unremarkable day, I felt the urge to pick up a pencil and begin to draw. Always enjoying art, I found myself delighted to be doing something creative. I was terrible at it, in all honesty; but it didn’t bother me, because I was doing something - and most importantly, it made me forget I was a depressed, chronically ill woman with no will to live. The crippling pain I felt every day began to feel more like a shadow two steps behind, rather than a tornado engulfing me. It was almost like magic, and I suppose it was. God’s very own flavor of divine intervention.

For weeks I passed the hours by losing myself in portraiture. A few months later I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and Fibromyalgia - the latter being a disorder causing widespread pain and fatigue. Medication relieved some though not all my pain, and it was another year figuring out how to take care of myself before I found true and consistent healing. Through it all I could feel and began to see how God was using my circumstances to create beauty from the ashes.

Through it all, I continued to draw, and eventually found my way to watercolors, which is where my creative curiosity bloomed into passion and, later on, a profession. 
I devoted myself wholly to my work, painting for hours and hours each day, absorbing as much education as I could find on the internet. Without any children at that time, there was nothing to compete for my attention. And although I attempted to broaden my horizons and tackle varied subject matter, nothing could rival my adoration and affection for painting flowers. Flowers have a language all their own, and in capturing them I was also captivated by them. My skills grew exponentially, and with each passing month so did my confidence and belief that this was something I was meant to do.
In 2017 my husband and I welcomed our first daughter, Hazel Gwen. She blazed into our world like an angry star knocked off its course. She cried relentlessly for three months, refused to be soothed, and was the most awake baby I had ever beheld. She would become my greatest teacher.

2019 I began to teach live workshops locally, which is when my business became a reliable income, something I had never imagined in my wildest of dreams. What began as a means of distracting myself from pain and misery had become dear and precious to me - beyond measure. God had taken the most brutal season of my life, what I had thought was possibly the end of it, and transformed it into something that not only nourished my soul but also provided for my family. This moment of realization built a faith in me I had not yet experienced during my fifteen years as a Christian. It changed everything. My perspective on life most of all, mainly that each day really IS a gift and we should treat it as such. I also learned how to be grateful. I count no gift greater than this. It would go on to serve me when I, once again, would need to call upon God’s strength as I became a mother. Above all I was able to see that God had never intended to break me and leave me shattered, but rather take those broken pieces and put me back together. That’s what His love does.

Our second daughter, Violet Fiona was born in 2020, and she too has brought more fiery energy to our family - as if it needed more! I had decided long ago I wanted to be at home with my children while they were little, and so began the very, very long days and short years, as they say.

Figuring out how to balance business and motherhood was a tremendous challenge, and to this day continues to be a shifting target; however God generously shows me there is room for both: the mother and the artist, and how the two might exist simultaneously. I am forever in His debt, forever changed by the goodness He has brought me. His love is extravagant, His plans perfect. And I remain beyond honored to create beautiful things with which to bless people.

5 products
Upon Deeper Reflection
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Quiet Morning
Quiet Morning
by Cara Olsen
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The Sun Will Rise
The Sun Will Rise
by Cara Olsen
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Over The Rainbow Large Wall Art
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Over The Rainbow
Over The Rainbow
by Cara Olsen
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