NEWTOWN SQUARE–When you look at one of Carol Schaeffer’s paintings, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into time, specifically back to the late 19th or early 20th centuries.
The Newtown Square artist has spent years of her life capturing on canvas the historical and charming scenes from around her town. Common themes of her pieces include trolley cars from the beginnings of the local railroad, longstanding bridges, and old homes full of character.
“What I do in one of my paintings, is put things together that are historically correct. I take different objects that I see in different old photographs, and paint them into one piece. I try to change the perspective a little,” said Schaeffer.
Schaeffer said she essentially views a building or scene for what it is today, studies the history and photos of it, and interprets it in her own way.
Her unique interpretation and style has earned her a recent award coveted by the Delaware County Heritage Commission. Schaeffer was given a preservation award during the May 3rd meeting of the Delaware County Council. She received the award for her book Scenes Around Newtown Square: From the Not-So-Distant Past, a compilation of paintings she has created.
“I’m proud to have been recognized. My husband says I have many more I should’ve put in there,” Schaeffer shared.
While Schaeffer chuckles modestly about her husband Ralph's comments, her interest in painting is largely due to the path the couple chose decades ago.
“I found that marrying an architect was easier than becoming one,” Schaeffer laughed.
The artist, who took to painting as a young girl and continued through Olney High School in Philadelphia, later attended Drexel University trying to earn an architecture degree. It would’ve taken her 10 years of night school. She soon got married and had three children.
“We lived in Upper Darby. Before the kids started school, we wanted to find a permanent place to settle, so we moved to our house in Newtown Square. I stopped painting once we started with the Cub Scouts, Little League, Girl Scouts,” she remembered. “I worked at a hardware store in Ardmore.”
Schaeffer said once she retired, she started painting again, joined the , and really began to appreciate the old architecture nestled throughout Newtown Square, which includes her own home.
“It’s an old house on about three acres of land. It was built back in 1896 and it inspired me,” she said.
Schaeffer translated that inspiration into a success story, and said she certainly has her favorite landscapes which she has painted many, many times.
“The first one I did that I liked was the Bartram Bridge. I’ve painted it many times,” Schaeffer says. “Also, I like the one of West Chester Pike and Boot Road with the trolley car. Ralph’s architectural influence has made me interested in painting buildings and because of that, I think I know perspective pretty well.”