"My mother noted my artistic aptitude when I was about 4 or 5," said Kravitz, a long-time resident of Weehawken. "I took her lipstick and drew on the bathroom walls."
Before young Carol moved on to other rooms in their Brooklyn home, Kravitz' mother brought her to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to take art classes on Saturday. But Kravitz became somewhat disillusioned at the age of 7 when she realized that there were other kids in those classes who, in her eyes, were more talented.
"I looked at what this other little girl did and I said that I could never be an artist," Kravitz said. "In the back of my mind, I knew I wasn't good. I just put an end to that misery right away."
So instead of pursuing a life in art, Kravitz turned her talents toward fashion design. She went to Pratt Institute for fashion design and eventually had a successful career as a knit wear designer and merchandiser for several apparel labels. Kravitz was a fixture in the fashion design industry for 35 years.
But there was always something missing. Her initial love of art kept popping into her head.
"My husband [Cary Bader] and I love to travel and we would always go to art museums and galleries wherever we went," Kravitz explained. "Every museum, palace, what have you and we would look at the paintings. And I would say, 'I could do this.' I really felt like I could."
Three years ago, Kravitz had already become wary of her business.
"There were many consolidations of companies, both in retailers and manufacturers," Kravitz said. "The time had come to segue out of the fashion industry and the most logical thing was to turn to my first love, being art."
So with the support of her husband, Kravitz weaned herself out of the fashion design business and began to focus on becoming an artist.
She began to take art lessons at the Art Student League in midtown Manhattan, first starting with doing photo graphic reproductions.
"I then started dabbling in water colors," Kravitz said. "One day, I somehow managed to get to the fourth floor. I had never been there before. I walked into a classroom and it was dark, late in the afternoon in November. And these people were painting a model and it was an epiphany for me. I knew I had to do this."
Then, after a three-month stint on a waiting list, she was accepted to attend a portrait class with the famed portrait artist Frank Mason.
"That was such an eye-opening experience," Kravitz said. "He's a master and it was amazing to watch him. He must be in his mid-80s. I learned all the techniques from him. It was a thrilling thing to be involved in."
More classes led to an introduction to landscapes and still life work. Another master, Frank Acuri, worked with Kravitz on the techniques of still-life.
"Once I found oil paints, I knew I found my medium," Kravitz said.
Kravitz said that she tried to simultaneously juggle working in the fashion business while studying art, but then, one event changed her life dramatically - namely Sept. 11, 2001.
"That was the day that I realized that fashion was no longer important in my life," Kravitz said. "I wanted to live the rest of my life productively and emotionally fulfilled. What happened at the World Trade Center was the emotional turning point."
Kravitz has been concentrating full-time on her art work since 2002. She moved into a studio in the old Yardley soap factory in Union City and has been creating a variety of works ever since.
She began selling her paintings last year, with 10 being sold and two others commissioned.
"One I did in Mount Washington in New Hampshire," Kravitz said. "A man walking by saw me painting it and wanted to buy it for his wife as a birthday present. That was a good feeling."
Kravitz said that she does many of her works "en plein-air," which means in the open air. She takes about two hours to create her image and then may make some changes later on.
Kravitz said that she also never creates from photographs, although she may use a camera to check on other details later on.
"I don't paint from photographs," Kravitz said. "A photograph can't capture the true colors and the shadows, the hidden colors that make it pleasing."
Kravitz's work is also shown in the Bee Gallery in New Orleans and was recently part of a woman's art display at the Weehawken Free Public Library.
After the show in Weehawken, the director of the Weehawken Free Public Library recommended Kravitz to Kathy Steffens, the executive director of the Secaucus Public Library.
"I showed Kathy some of my paintings and she asked me to present a show, my first solo show," Kravitz said.
The show, entitled "Inside/Outside," will feature approximately 40 of Kravitz's best paintings.
The show runs from March 1 through March 13 at the Secaucus Public Library. Some of the paintings in the show will be made available for purchase.
"I'm very excited about it," Kravitz said. "My personality is such that I feel it's not worth doing unless you can do it well. I'm still learning and still trying to find my style, but I put everything I have into everything I do. It's an emotional response and sensation. I paint for my pleasure. If I don't feel it, it's not going to be there. Mixing the colors and putting them to canvas, it's just an incredible sensation, a tactile sensation. When I'm painting, time stops. Language stops. Everything becomes emotion, rather than thinking. It's a very calming place to be."
Kravitz said that she is amazed how her life has turned out.
"I never thought this could be possible," Kravitz said. "I thought I would be in the fashion business until I retired. Now, I take my painting with me everywhere. I take the easels and the paint box and my chair, even going through customs, which could be a nightmare. Everyone has a passion. I'm just doing mine the right way now. It's been the most fabulous thing, this new-found vocation."
Now, people in Secaucus will get to see what Carol Kravitz left the fashion industry for.
"Inside/Outside," a show featuring the recent oil paintings of Carol Kravitz, will be presented at the Secaucus Public Library, 1379 Paterson Plank Road in Secaucus from March 1 through March 13. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 12 noon to 4 p.m. The artist's reception will be held Saturday, March 6 from 1-3 p.m. and all are welcomed. For further information, contact the library at (201) 330-2084 or log on to www.bccls.org/secaucus.