Reinvented Style: Carol Brolin

By Luanna K. Leisure | Illustrations by Carol Brolin



Carol Brolin with some of her work


Carol Brolin,  member of the Santa Clara County Branch, seems to have always been an artist, whether on stage in the theatre or rendering her talent on canvas with a brush or on paper with a pencil. When it came time to decide which path to take as a career, she realized that the path to acting schools and acceptance into the field could mean major compromises with her moral beliefs. Brolin had heard the stories of women who had to sleep their way to success.

Creating illustrations, still life portraits, scenery, and landscapes won over as her true love in expressing her feelings and revealing her multitalented abilities.

Inspired and encouraged by an aunt and uncle, Brolin developed her art skills early. She studied at Parson’s School of Art and Design in New York City. With her artistic ability, she readily found employment with department stores and businesses before computers took over the industry. It was a time when all ads were illustrated by hand, usually on a weekly basis. Brolin illustrated ads for Liberty House in Hawaii, Mervyn’s, Macy’s, Longs Drug Store, and Steinbeck’s in New Jersey, to name a few.

Book cover

Children’s book illustrated by Carol Brolin


Computers drastically changed the industry. She was forced out of her career when a computer was placed on her desk and a graphic artist did the same work in less than half the time.

This did not stop Brolin. She went to work for HP in the data entry department and later at HP’s credit union. Even though this was not a job in the arts, she used her talents to create flyers and advertisements for the company and continued her work and studies in art on the side.

Brolin is still a professional illustrator and has continued being active and busy with her art. She didn’t sit around and bemoan the fact that her career was yanked away; instead, she reinvented her style. She has collaborated with other Pen Women and illustrated five children’s books written by three Pen Women, “Money . . . Cool!” by Judith Fabris; “A Very, Very Special Birthday” and “Cough in Your Shirt, Bert!” by Sheralee Hill Iglehart, and “Quack! Quack! I Want My Feathers Back!” and “Hello, I Am Mr. Gray”  by Luanna K. Leisure.

Brolin has participated in numerous art workshops in many locations around the world, including San Miguel Allende in Mexico. She enrolled in a workshop in the Amalfi Coast in Italy and a workshop in Venice through Stanford University. She also taught fashion illustration at a community college.

Her art has been on display in different areas around the valley. Brolin is also a participant, along with other Pen Women, in the Mission: Outreach Program, which brings the world of art to the community and grade-school students.

Carol Brolin’s illustrations from ““Quack! Quack! I Want My Feathers Back!” written by Luanna K. Leisure