Carol Dee Ankrom has been called “artsy” her entire life. So, when it came time for the artist to name her burgeoning business, the task was simple. She decided on Artsy June – her nickname meshed with her daughter’s middle name. Whimsical by nature, each one of Ankrom’s paintings aims to capture the innocent delight that only a mix of children and creativity can convey.
The connection between her artwork and children is no accident. Ankrom’s husband, Robert, works in communications and public relations. Prior to moving to Stuart, the Ankroms and their daughter lived at Chatham Hall in Virginia – an all-girls boarding school where Robert worked. The family moved to Stuart last summer for Robert’s new job as the director of communications and public relations at The Pine School in Hobe Sound.
Ankrom says their years at the boarding school were quite isolated. “Life was dedicated to those girls,” she remembers. Her husband was fully immersed in the little community, so she used her time to be artistic with the students. And, since their daughter, Fiona, was homeschooled, Ankrom had opportunities to be creative.
Working in a child-filled environment came naturally for the artist. Earlier in her career, Ankrom created illustrations for a graphic design company. She would often draw for children’s books and do murals for children’s museums. “I always kept going back to art,” Ankrom explains, adding that her creativity won out over her degree in child development.
The transition from commercial drawer to freelance painter was a natural process. As an artist, Ankrom gravitated to doing things by hand. When Fiona was born, Ankrom created paintings for friends. Soon, her hobby became her work.
Many of the pieces Ankrom creates for Artsy June involve a process of collaging clippings from discarded children’s books with paint. Many of her works include inspirational quotes or words, such as “I’ll look back on life and smile because I decided to live it.” For commissioned pieces, she’ll often start the piece of art using a client’s favorite children’s book. “The whimsical nature of the visuals of children’s books is inspirational,” she explains. “I’m conveying the story through drawing.”
Ankrom’s art business picked up momentum while the family lived in Virginia. Galleries in North Carolina asked to show her pieces, and things began to fall in place. The relocation to Florida left Ankrom wondering what she would do in the new town. At her husband’s urging, she continued to follow her calling as an artist. Her work soon came to the attention of Susan Stracuzzi, owner of Two Sisters Boutique in Stuart. Ankrom was invited to display pieces up for sale. Now, her work can be purchased at the boutique or by private commission.
Life looks slightly different today. Fiona is in school and no longer draws as her mother reads to her. The family has a new house, in a new town in a new state, outside the boarding school community. But, the art remains – just as it has remained Ankrom’s passion.