U.S. Army Officer Carol Zieres ’82 was stationed at an outpatient clinic for the Allied Forces Central Europe in Holland when she received her first set of Aquarelle watercolor paints from a Dutch friend on her 24th birthday.
“I started painting landscapes of castles, mountains, windmills and stone arched bridges,” Carol said. “Everywhere I traveled in Europe, whether on leave or on temporary duty, I took my camera and my paint set and canvas with me. It became my part-time hobby (in what little spare time I could find), where I could just relax, losing myself in my artwork, to escape the rigors of military life for a while.”
Thirty-five years later, now retired from a military career that spanned three decades and included 14 duty station moves, Carol continues to paint colorful landscapes in her current home of Safety Harbor, Fla., using the same brand of watercolor paints.
“I have used watercolor to paint water scenes and sunsets here in Florida,” she said. “Of course, there is a big tourist market for water scenes where I now live, rather than windmills and castles. I have painted a whole series of watercolor landscape paintings from my hometown, and have converted most of them into postcards, which I sell wholesale to the Chamber of Commerce and other gift shops in town.”
Today, she shares her passion for art in a variety of forums, including as secretary and vice president of The Exhibiting Society of Artists, voting member of the Safety Harbor Public Art Committee for the city council and watercolor and mixed media instructor at the Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center.
She can trace her interest in painting landscapes—particularly sunsets over the water—to watching her art major roommate,
Marion Bresnihan ’82, sitting by the window that overlooked the west shore of Lake Ontario in their Cayuga Hall room and painting the sunsets.
“That was one of the fondest memories of Oswego life was watching the sun go down on Lake Ontario,” Carol said. “Students would gather with friends along the shoreline each night and watch the sun set. This is what inspired me to begin taking art classes.”
In addition to her original major of biology, Carol picked up a second major in art, although she was never able to take a painting course during her time at Oswego. She did find some time to participate in the Oswego Outdoor Club, including an overnight stay on Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks, and in the Oswego Horticulture Club that took her to New York City’s Botanical Gardens.
Another highlight was being one of 20 students selected to participate in an extended marine biology course at Discovery Bay, Jamaica, in the West Indies.
“I had never flown on an airplane before, so this 20-year-old country girl was a bit nervous boarding that jet from Syracuse to Miami, then on to Air Jamaica to embark upon a three-week adventure in a foreign country,” she recalled. “It was a spectacular experience I’ll never forget!”
In her junior year, she was one of the first women admitted into SUNY Oswego’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program, which was an extension program of Syracuse University ROTC.
“I worked hard all my life as a military officer,” she said. “Now that I’ve finally settled down in retirement, my artwork is still my hobby and I consider my talent a gift to be shared with my family, friends and the community.”