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Omaha Magazine

Carolyn Moore's Side Hustle Turns Into Something More

Aug 27, 2021 04:01PM ● By Sara Locke
omaha themed hand painted mugs

Photo by Bill Sitzmann    

I’ve always loved art,” painter Carolyn Moore explained of her journey into Omaha’s creative community. “I was always the weirdo with all of the craft kits and the art supplies…the bracelet-making kits and the little premade projects you can buy from the store.”

Born and raised in Omaha, Moore’s affinity for the arts followed her through childhood, her college education at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, and well into the application of her psychology degree working for Child Protective Services in Nebraska. When that position ended, Moore moved on to become a service coordinator with Elkhorn Public Schools in Omaha. Her positivity and compassion were well at home in the chaotic and creative school environment. Moore, still driven to create, would often paint watercolors at home in what she calls her personal self-care ritual. She had no idea how soon or how well her painting sessions were going to pay off.

“I’d always just painted whatever I wanted,” Moore stated, “but started sharing some more of my watercolors on Facebook and Instagram. Then, as the pandemic kind of wore on and people wanted to change their surrounds a little bit, they started asking about prints. The pandemic meant I had some time, so I built a website and started selling [them].”

While her original works—primarily still lifes of florals, Omaha landmarks such as Memorial Park, “Bob” Pedestrian Bridge, and Henry Doorly Zoo, and colorful abstracts—were a hit, a more intentional piece of her portfolio would elevate her business to new heights. 

“I had moved into my first home with my husband and our corgi, Bernie, after what turned out to be a very stressful process,” Moore recalled. “It’s this great little bungalow in Hanscom Park. It was our first [house], so I decided to paint it.”

Moore’s painting of her home’s quaint exterior gained traction on social media, and she soon received a number of commission requests from homeowners. Clients sent Moore a few snapshots of their house, and were rewarded with an 8-inch by 10-inch ink-and-watercolor custom painting of their home. From there, her custom home portrait business was launched. 

Even as online sales of her prints continued to rise—she was more than making ends meet—her passion for sharing her art propelled Moore to do more. She began having her Omaha landmark paintings and original works screen-printed onto T-shirts, mugs, canvas totes, and pens, and participating in pop-up events and art fairs around town.

“I love the Omaha arts community,” Moore said, adding, “Everyone is so eccentric and open-minded. A lot of my connections and opportunities came about through social media, mostly through Instagram. I started collaborating with other artists and I connected with Revival Omaha and got my art into their store, before they closed. Then, Landlock Gallery in Blackstone and both Made in Omaha (store) locations.”

One such collaboration was with Meg Rutledge, owner of local apparel brand Milk & Daisy. Speaking of Rutledge, Moore said, “She’s so easygoing and coordinated. I’m very Type B (personality), and she’s the type who gets it all done. She keeps me organized, tells me who to connect with, where to get mugs printed. She knows everyone and is such a great person to know and be connected with.”

Rutledge instantly volleyed the compliment. “Carolyn is such a breath of fresh air. She absolutely leads with her heart in everything she does," she said.
"In the art community, everything is about creating a more beautiful space, and sometimes you meet with artists and everything is instantly all business. My brand is about being beautiful and inclusive, but still affordable. Working with Carolyn is so refreshing because she absolutely has those same values. She’s always so appreciative if I throw in a note directing her to a local or Black-owned business to work with. Anything you do to uplift and empower, she’s expressing her gratitude for.”

And beyond heart, Rutledge sees the art.

“No matter what medium she’s using, Carolyn’s work is just perfection. I’m so excited for what the future holds for her!”   

Visit mooreartomaha.comfacebook.com/mooreartomaha, or instagram.com/carolynmooreart to see more of Moore’s work.

This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Omaha Home Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

Photo by Bill Sitzmann