Carole Wade sailed the Atlantic Ocean solo, but it was the thought of creating a painting that made her blood run cold.
"It's very personal, and you're really putting yourself out there," she said of creating a piece of art. "I think it's pretty challenging to get to a point where that doesn't bother you."
The Park City woman did reach that point, and an exhibit of her paintings opens with a reception at 6 p.m. next Friday in Ogden's Gallery at the Station, during the First Friday Art Stroll. The exhibit continues through May 3.
Wade's roots are in the landlocked West. Her grandparents were from Utah, her parents lived in Idaho, and she spent the 1970s in Provo. But life changes, and Wade moved from Utah to Hartford, Conn., where she worked as a graphic designer.
"After a while, I got interested in sailing, so I got a boat," she said. "I started loving the boat more than anything, so I decided to sell or give away almost everything I owned and lived on the boat."
The cramped quarters were worth it.
"When you're sitting on the deck, you have the world in front of you, so it doesn't feel that confined," she said.
Wade spent eight years living on her 30-foot ketch, including a four-year tour of Europe.
She chose to cross the Atlantic Ocean on her own. "It's close quarters," she said of her decision to sail alone. "There are only a few people you'd want to be with in that intimate of a situation for that long."
Adventures at sea
Wade had adventures over the years, including spending time in a storm with a dead body.
She was on her way to an island in the Azores, when she heard a radio message from a tanker ship.
"They'd found a very small sailboat with a body on board," Wade remembered. "I called them on the radio and said, 'I'm in a small boat nearby, and I'm willing to help if I can.' "
A storm arose and the tiny boat was being damaged as waves beat it against the tanker. The tanker crew asked Wade to take over.
"I had a line on the little boat, and it was starting to get dark, and I was kind of towing it along toward the island," she said. "At some point, the rope broke."
Wade was finally able to get the boat -- and body -- back to shore with help from three French sailors.
Adventures in art
In spite of her adventurous spirit, and her background in graphic design, Wade never wanted to paint.
"It's kind of a mystery to me," she said. "It was just pretty scary to paint."
When she missed the safest season to cross the Atlantic and head home, she stayed in the Canary Islands.
"I was in a town called Santa Cruz, on the island of Tenerife, and it's a very old city, and very picturesque. I started looking around, and found myself wanting to paint," she remembered. "I finally said to myself, 'So you can cross an ocean by yourself, but you're afraid to paint?' That didn't make much sense."
So she jumped right in and found her own style, which she describes as very colorful figurative expressionism.
"It was pretty intuitive. ... I think that happens when you're older and you've got a lot of other experiences," she said. "Somehow I knew if I was going to paint, this is how I was going to paint."
Painting quickly lost its fear factor.
"I had kind of moderate success from the beginning, so I didn't go through a huge period of struggling with it," she said.
Wade moved to Park City five years ago to be near her son, and to spend time skiing.
She travels to art festivals from Texas to California, showing and selling her acrylic paintings.
"I do Western paintings, of horses and rodeos and cowboys, and some landscapes," she said. "I do some New York City street scenes, usually with taxi cabs and umbrellas in the rain."
She's also inspired by the Park City streets and slopes -- but that doesn't mean she's given up her boat. It's in Cape Cod, waiting for her.
"When I go back, I'll probably stay at least a month," she said. "I'm thinking of sailing around Maine."
Wade doesn't think she'll be tempted to live on the boat again.
"The painting has gotten too big, become too important, so I have to have a place that's a home base with a studio," she said.